On April 7, 2015, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) released the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Indian-specific provisions in the bill mark a huge victory for Native education, reflecting years of hard work by tribes and Native education advocates.
The ESEA bill contains numerous provisions that reflect Native priorities, including the following:
- Consultation. States must engage in meaningful consultation with tribes in the development of state plans for Title I grants. LEAs must consult with tribes in the design and development of programs under the Act, and they must consult with tribes prior to making any decision affecting the opportunities of Indian children in programs, services, or activities provided under Title VII.
- STEP Authorization. Grants are permanently authorized to promote tribal self-determination, improve Indian academic achievement, and promote coordination and collaboration between tribal education agencies (TEAs) and state and local education agencies.
- Cooperative Agreements. Local education agencies (LEAs) may enter into cooperative agreements with an Indian tribe that represents not less than 25 percent of the eligible Indian children served by the LEA.
- Indian Community-Based Organizations. Indian community-based organizations may apply for grants if LEAs and tribal organizations and consortiums do not apply for Title VII grants.
- Outreach. The Secretary of Education is tasked with reaching out to LEAs and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools that are eligible for Title VII grants in order to encourage and assist eligible entities to submit applications.
- Technical Assistance. The Secretary is directed to provide technical assistance to LEAs, including technical assistance to develop applications, improve implementation, and integrate Title VII activities with other educational activities.
- Indian Child Determination. Once a child is determined to be an Indian for the purposes of Title VII grants, this determination will not have to be made again in subsequent years.
- Preservation of Section 7131. The bill preserves section 7131, which authorizes National Research Activities that have been critical to providing data on Indian student achievement. Previous bill drafts proposed removal of this provision.
The inclusion of these and other provisions in the bipartisan ESEA bill is a tremendous step forward. The bill, however, does not contain a Native language immersion program, a top priority for tribes. NIEA will be working to ensure that a Native language immersion program amendment is introduced during the Committee’s markup on April 14, 2015.
- Call your Senator and ask them to support the addition of a Native language immersion program to the bill.
- To learn how to contact your Senator, please click here.
- Also ask your Senator to support the bill overall and help to ensure that it reaches the Senate floor.
Thank you for your hard work on this important issue!
You can see TEDNA, NIEA, and other organizations’ letter regarding the ESEA re-authorization here.