The Common Core State Standards in math and English/language arts have gotten a lot of attention over the past few years, fueling debate about how best to set goals for student learning. But another set of new standards-these for science-has been redefining instruction in American classrooms with much less controversy. The Next Generation Science Standards, being implemented in 18 states, emphasize learning science by doing science.

Wyoming has not yet adopted the standards, but some school districts, like Campbell County, aren’t waiting for the state to take action.

“We’re not teaching out of a textbook anymore,” says 4th grade teacher Jamie Howe. “It’s more hands on and students are taking control of their own learning.”

Although this more active way of teaching is fueling enthusiasm, it also faces significant challenges. Schools across the nation spend less time on science and more on math and reading, and educators in small schools with few science teachers must adapt in not just one subject, but three or four.

John Tulenko of Education Week visited Wyoming this spring to learn how the Next Generation Science Standards are changing K-12 science classes.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      

June 9, 2016

Washington, D.C.– Earlier this week, the Department of Education (ED) released a first look at the data collected in the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Report. The CRDC is a survey of all public schools and school districts in the United States. The survey measures student access to resources, as well as information on factors like school discipline and bullying. As other reports have shown, Native students continue to face obstacles that impact their academic success. Highlights from the report show the harsh realities our students experience in public schools including:

  • Native students are disproportionately suspended from school.
  • Native high school students are also retained disproportionately.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (26%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (25%) high school students are chronically absent.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native boys represent 0.6% of all students, but 2% of students expelled without educational services.
  • More than one out of five American Indian or Alaska Native (22%) and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (23%) boys with disabilities served by IDEA received one or more out-of-school suspensions, compared to one out of ten white (10%) boys with disabilities served by IDEA.

Secretary of Education, John King, said of the report, “The Obama Administration has always stressed how data can empower parents, educators and policy makers to make informed decisions about how to better serve students. The stories the CRDC data tell us create the imperative for a continued call to action to do better and close achievement and opportunity gaps.”

NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose agreed saying, “This report confirms what Native education advocates have always known-gaps persist that impact the success of our students. However, it only provides one chapter of a larger story. When looking at reports that assess the innovative solutions tribes have started to implement:  culture-based education, language immersion programs, community input, and support work, we know tribal communities have the ability to reverse these statistics. NIEA hopes the CRDC report provides an opportunity to begin a national discussion on how to expand these solutions and provide the flexibility and support to make them work.”

Throughout 2016, the ED will continue to release data highlights that relay information about issues that impact student success.

To view the CRDC report, please click here.

Click here to learn more about NIEA.

From Indian Country Today:

In 1997, the graduation rate for Native American students was 37 percent in theNebo School District; this year, the district graduated 100 percent of its Native seniors, with 23 of the 26 starting college in the fall,reportstheDaily Heraldout of Utah.

It was in 1997 thatEileen Quintana, manager for the Nebo School District’s Title VII program in Utah County, Utah, approached the board of education and brought the graduation rates to their attention.

“If this were the case for white children, heads would be rolling,” she remembers saying, reported theHerald. “There would be an outrage.”

Though she shocked some, the district gave her program more resources, like a classroom, computers, and supplies.

According to theWhite House’s 2014 Native Youth Report, the national graduation rate for American Indian/Alaska Native students is 67 percent, the lowest of any racial or ethnic group. Graduates from Bureau of Indian Education schools fare even worse, with a graduation rate of just 53 percent, compared to a national average of 80 percent.

Quintana and Brenda Beyal, a teacher in the program, attribute their program’s success to collaboration. While many Title VII programs try to survive on the $200 they get every year per student from the federal government, Nebo’s program looks for supplemental grants, and support from family and employees.

“Many of our Title VII programs throughout the state function from a desk out of a cubbyhole,” Quintana told theHerald. “You have to have a classroom, you have to have computers… you have to have teachers and tutors… If your school administration is not going to that point of supplying you and helping you secure these fundamental necessities of education, you can’t make an impact.”

Aside from funding difficulties, Native students spend their entire educational careers battling low expectations and assumptions.

“People think Native Americans don’t have to work hard because they get into college anyway,” Beyal said. “That’s not true.”

Aside from being collaborative, the program encourages students to incorporate their culture into assignments.

“Everything that we learn is from [the] white perspective,” Quintana told theHerald. “Sometimes all it takes is an adaptation, indigenise the curriculum a little bit. That is what we have done many times and it has worked.”

Click HERE for the full story!

~CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!~

 

 

From Harvard Law Today:

Being Native American defines Elizabeth Reese ’16. Then again, so does being the granddaughter of a Lutheran minister from Pennsylvania. Together, the two have helped shape a woman and a lawyer.

Reese was raised 20 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, as a member of the Pueblo of Nambé tribe. The village there is small and old—it dates back to the 14th century—as is the tribe that makes the reservation home. Some 1,100 members of the 2,000-person Nambé tribe live on the 20,000-acre reservation, which is filled with cottonwoods, juniper, and scrub oak, and surrounded by sandstone and mountains and river. Such isolation has helped the community maintain its culture and traditions.

Reese was raised squarely in that community and in that culture, although she’s always felt she belonged in two very different worlds. She grew being called Elizabeth but also Yunpovi (which means Willow Flower in the Tewa language). She may have been surrounded by scrub pine, but her father read her Homer as a child, which helped her navigate traditionally elite white spaces more easily than she might have otherwise.

She considered her educational journey an opportunity to learn things that would aid her in making a difference for her people—for her tribe specifically, but for native people more broadly. First, she went to Yale.

“When I went off to school at Yale I really wanted to make sure I understood the world of education and power that exists in America, because that world is something few Indian people have been a part of and understood,” says Reese. “And yet, that’s where so many decisions that impact us and define what will happen to us get made.”

As an undergraduate she developed a background in political theory, which led her to England and the University of Cambridge. There she earned a Master of Philosophy in political thought and intellectual history and did work on Indian political theory. She counts herself as one of the first Native Americans to attend the university and one of the first scholars there to focus on Indian ideas.

Reese’s commitment to the study—and protection—of Native concerns led her to Harvard Law School and shaped her focus during her three years. She built visibility, programming, and recruitment as a leader in the HLS Native American Law Students Association. She helped to write a District Court amicus brief intervening in a tribal water jurisdiction case through the Native Amicus Briefing Project. She also served as a congressional intern and a fellow for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and interned at the Department of Justice in the civil rights division.

Now she is hoping to become a warrior.

“There’s a common theme in Indian society that lawyers are the modern warriors for Indian people,” says Reese. “I’m really excited to become one of those warriors and to join the fight to ensure that tribal sovereignty survives for my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren.”

After graduation Reese will clerk for Judge Amul R. Thapar at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Late in the year she’ll head to Washington, D.C., as a Public Service Venture Fund Redstone Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The breadth of cases she’ll be part of—from litigating voting rights on one side of the country to school desegregation on the other side—excites her.

While Reese hopes to spend the early part of her career working on civil rights cases that affect the lives of people of color in the U.S—including her family members—she also hopes to someday practice Indian law. After all it’s the law, she says, that determines whether or not Indian tribes survive.

“It can’t be understated how fragile our future is—how our survival is still something we have to fight for,” says Reese. “Unlike a lot of other groups or identities, this is our only homeland. Our culture exists nowhere else in the world if we fail to ensure its survival here. I take that challenge very seriously and hope I can do all I can to protect my tribe and my people and our sovereignty.”

Congratulations Elizabeth!