Tribes awarded money to help youth go to college, get career ready

Here, from Fox 25 in Oklahoma. An excerpt:

Some Native American students in our area are getting help to move on to college or careers after graduation. The White House announced winners of $5.3 million in federal grants Thursday.

Six tribes in Oklahoma will received some money in the program, including the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe which will work with El Reno Public Schools to help their students.

“This is one of those areas that we can use all the help we can get. We want our kids to graduate from here with the goal in mind,” El Reno schools superintendent Craig McVay said.

Of the students in the district, 12 percent are Native American, most belonging to the Cheyenne Arapaho tribe, McVay said.

Through the grant, those students will have their progress tracked from the 6th through 9th grades to make sure they’re getting the resources they need to move up after graduation and develop their abilities to do it.

The district will continue to work with them after that to see them through to college, vocational schools or careers.

The grants are part of an initiative by President Obama called “Generation Indigenous,” a project to help American Indian youth.

“These grants are an unprecedented investment in our native youth, and a recognition that tribal communities are best positioned to drive solutions and lead change,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Tribes in nine states were awarded money. In Oklahoma the Absentee Shawnee tribe, Otoe-Missouri Tribe and the Creek, Cherokee, and Osage nations were also awarded grant money.

Notice Of Request For Comments – Renewal of Agency Information Collection for the Bureau of Indian Education Tribal Education Department Grant Program; Request for Comments

Here is the notice, and the entire PDF copy is here.  Deadline to respond is November 2, 2015.  From the abstract:

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is seeking renewal of the approval for information collection conducted under 25 U.S.C. 2020, for the solicitation of grant proposals from Federally-recognized tribes and their Tribal Education Departments (TEDs) that will fund program goals to promote tribal education capacity building to include:

  • Development and enforcement of tribal educational codes, including tribal education policies and tribal standards applicable to curriculum, personnel, students, facilities, and support programs;
  • Facilitate tribal control in all matters relating to the education of Indian children on reservations (and onformer Indian reservations in Oklahoma);
  • Provide development of coordinated educational programs (including all preschool, elementary, secondary, and higher or vocational educational programs) on reservations (and on former Indian reservations in Oklahoma) by encouraging tribal administrative support of all Bureau-funded educational programs, as well as encouraging tribal cooperation and coordination with entities carrying out all educational programs receiving financial support from other Federal agencies, State agencies, or private entities.

A response is required to obtain or retain a benefit, thus it is very important for Tribes and TEDs to provide comments.

You may submit comments on the information collection to Ms. Wendy Greyeyes, Bureau of Indian Education, Office of the BIE Director, 1849 C Street NW., MS-4657-MIB, Washington, DC 20240; email Wendy.Greyeyes@bie.edu.

Via TulsaWorld.com: Crisis Hits Oklahoma Classrooms with Teacher Shortage, Quality Concerns

An excerpt:

Oklahoma’s deepening teacher shortage has education officials trading in their “Help Wanted” signs for ones with a more urgent message: “Help Needed NOW.”

As schools ring in the start of a new academic year, administrators are desperately trying to fill teacher vacancies amid a scarcity of applicants.

Evidence of that growing desperation abounds through the number of emergency certification requests at the Oklahoma State Department of Education and through vacancies still advertised by districts.

Since July, the state has received 526 requests for emergency teaching certificates — already exceeding the 506 it received in all of 2014-15. Those certificates allow those who haven’t completed basic higher education and training requirements to enter the classroom right away.

“The teacher shortage is at a point of crisis,” said state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “Emergency certifications continue to skyrocket, and class sizes continue to increase. Until we can attract and retain teachers in our state, education will suffer.”

Tulsa Public Schools, which had 568 teachers — or 20 percent — of its certified teaching positions exit over the past 14 months, has resorted to the measure at a record high rate. District officials say they have submitted 59 emergency certificate requests. Records from the state show 40 of those among the total of 526 already processed.

Today, low teacher morale in Oklahoma and better salary and benefits in surrounding states are making it harder for districts to compete for recent college graduates and retain experienced teachers. The state also averaged 3,000 annual teacher retirements in each of the past five years.

The teacher shortage is spinning off a complex web of devastating consequences in course offerings for students and working conditions for the educators left behind.

Tulsa’s new superintendent, Deborah Gist, said she didn’t fully appreciate all of the implications when she left her position as Rhode Island education commissioner to come here in July.

“Not only do we need a teacher in every classroom, we also need experienced and stable teams of teachers in our schools,” Gist said. “TPS has consistently had around 50 teacher vacancies at the start of school and even through our school year for many years now. So to start the year with a full complement of teachers is an enormous challenge. We have worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure every student in our district has a teacher on the first day of school and throughout the year.”

Three days before the start of school, the TPS website still lists more than 150 teaching positions for applications because hiring needs persist all year. Another 100 support jobs, such as janitors and classroom aides, were also posted.

Frustration leads to retirement

According to the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, nearly 15,000 teachers retired over the past five years, including 1,100 early retirees. Public schools reported 1,000 unfilled teacher vacancies in August 2014, and over the course of the academic year, another 3,090 teachers retired.

Of last year’s retirees, 238 left early, including Lynetta Tart, who had taught for 39 years at TPS before retiring in June, shortly before her 61st birthday.

“I decided to retire because I was tired of going to meetings,” she said.

In early July, one of Gist’s first actions as Tulsa superintendent was to send a letter asking more than 900 teachers who had left in recent years to consider returning. A spokesman said that although the effort produced about 35 “leads,” none resulted in new employment contracts.

To read the entire article, click here.

NIEA: ESEA Update, More Action Needed!

Excellent update from NIEA, below.

Native Education Advocates See Major Wins in ESEA Reauthorization Bills  

It has been a busy week for Native education advocates on the Hill! As Congress debated and negotiated the reauthorization of the largest civil rights education bill, the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA), NIEA and it’s members advocated on behalf of the over 350,000 Native public school students to ensure that they are provided with a high-quality academic and culturally relevant education to achieve college and career success. We would like to thank our Native education partners for their continued support and for their efforts in helping ensure Native students succeed.

Student Success Act (HR5) Passed in the House

Student Success Act (SSA) passed through the House on July 8th with a recorded vote of 218 to 213. Twenty-seven Republican congressmen crossed party lines to join House Democrats in voting against HR5 Wednesday night. The SSA is a conservative version of the ESEA rewrite and was introduced by Rep. John Kline (R-MN). This bill favors state and local accountability over federal oversight by eliminating the current national accountability system. This measure would allow states to set their own academic standards and would prohibit federal statutes that mandate, incentivize, or coerce states to adopt Common Core State Standards.

The White House has indicated that it plans to veto the SSA in its current form because, as stated by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, “instead of supporting the schools and educators that need it most, the bill shifts resources away from them.”

Native education advocates did see an important amendment added to the SSA under Title V entitled “The Federal Government’s Trust Responsibility to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education.” The independent title was inserted thanks to strong bipartisan support, which was led by Rep. Don Young (R-AK). The amendment allows local educational agencies and tribes to be eligible for grants which improve education for Native students.

Every Child Achieves Act (S1177) is Being Debated in the Senate

Debate on the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015 began Tuesday, July 7th. In her opening remarks, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee stated, “Today marks the first day of debate on our bipartisan bill to strengthen our education system by reauthorizing the nation’s K-12 education law, the ESEA. This work is a chance to recommit ourselves to the promise of a quality education for every child. And it is an opportunity to finally fix the current law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB).”

The Native-specific provisions in the bill mark a huge victory for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian education, reflecting years of hard work by tribes and Native education advocates. Some highlights include: Consultation, where states and local educational agencies must engage in meaningful consultation with tribes in the development of state plans for Title I grants, STEP Authorization, where grants are permanently authorized to promote tribal self-determination in order to improve Indian academic achievement, and the Preservation of Section 7131, which authorizes National Research Activities that have been critical to providing data on Indian student achievement.

While the Senate has ended voting for the week, several important amendments for Native education that have passed:

 Amendment to Improve Native American Education (#2085)

The amendment was introduced by Senator Rounds (R-SD) and Senator Udall (D-NM). This amendment calls for inter-agency collaboration between the Department of Interior (DOI) and Department of Education (DOE) to conduct a study of rural and poverty areas of Indian Country to identify:

  • Federal barriers that prevent tribes from implementing applicable policies over one-size fits all regulations dictated from Washington;
  • Recruitment and retention options for teachers and school administrators;
  • Limitations in funding sources and flexibility for such schools; and
  • Strategies on how to increase high school graduation rates.

Title VII Grant Programs for Indian Education Amendment (#2078)  

The amendment was introduced by Senator Tester (D-MT). This amendment restores vital grant programs in the Title VII of the ECAA, which “will help students in Indian Country develop the tools they need to succeed.” Senator Tester continued by saying that “the Senate took a step forward to live up to our moral and trust responsibility to ensure Native American students are getting the education and shot at success they deserve.” This amendment reinstates the following four programs:

  • In – Service Training for Teachers of Indian Children
  • Fellowships for Native Students Pursuing Social Beneficial Degrees
  • Gifted and Talented Programs to Nurture Native Excellence
  • Native Adult Literacy and GED Programs

The following amendments will be presented by Senator Heitkamp (D-ND) next week:

Grants for the Integration of Schools and Mental Health Systems (#2171)

The amendment introduces plans to reinstate and improve access to Mental Health Support Grants by reinstating the Integration Program- which provides five-year grants to States, school districts, and Indian tribes to increase student access to quality mental health care.

Tribal improvements included are:

  • Providing eligibility to Indian tribes or their education agencies, BIE schools, as well as Alaska Native communities;
  • Crisis Intervention and conflict resolution practices, such as those focused on decreasing rates of bullying, teen dating violence, suicide, trauma, and human trafficking;
  • Ensuring linguistically appropriate and culturally competent services;
  • Engage and utilizing expertise provided by institutions of higher education, such as a Tribal College or University, as defined in section 316(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965; and
  • Assurances that tribes and their representatives are consulted and aware of the program and understand their eligibility.

Educational Equity under Land-Grant Status & Smith Lever Act (#2174)

The bipartisan amendment provides parity by allowing Tribal Colleges to compete for Children, Youth and Families at Risk and Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Grants. Co-sponsors of the amendment include Senators Thune (R-SD), Stabenow (D-MI), and Tester (D-MT).

Action Is Still Needed for Native Education

Now more than ever Native students need your support. Reach out to your state’s Senator and ask them to support these important and necessary amendments for Native education. Please contact Dimple Patel (dpatel@niea.org or at (202) 847-0034) with any questions.

  • To find the contact information for your Senator, please click here.

To call the general phone line for the Senate, please call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with the Senator from your state.

 

Whether you’re an educator, a student, or invested in increasing educational opportunities for Native students, NIEA members help advocate for better policies. Your  contribution will help us continue to be effective advocates, train educators that work with Native students, and close the achievement gap.  To donate, please click HERE.

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2016

The Senate Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriation Bill calls for grants to Tribal Education Departments to be continued on page 167.

An excerpt:

National Activities

The Committee recommends $5,565,000 for national activities. Funds are used to expand efforts to improve research, evaluation, and data collection on the status and effectiveness of Indian education programs, and to continue grants to tribal educational departments for education administration and planning.

White House threatens veto of funding bill for Indian programs

From Indianz.com, here. An excerpt:

President Barack Obama is threatening to veto a Republican-drafted appropriations bill that cuts funding for Indian programs and includes other questionable Indian policy riders.H.R.2822 provides $2.5 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That’s $159 million, or 5 percent, less than the $2.7 billion that Obama requested in his fiscal year 2016 budget for the Department of the Interior.

“This funding level would limit DOI’s ability to make key investments in education and wrap-around services to support Native youth, eliminating all increases to post-secondary scholarships and $10 million for education program enhancement funds to allow Bureau of Indian Education to drive school improvement and reforms,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy on H.R.2822.

Via Indian Country Today: Free College Tuition For Natives Threatened by Budget Knife

An excerpt:

Before he even considered going to college, Byron Tsabetsaye ruled it out.

While attending high school on the Navajo Nation, Tsabetsaye didn’t know anything about college applications, financial aid or selecting a major. An average student, Tsabetsaye said his teachers didn’t expect him to go to college, so he didn’t either.

“As a student on the reservation, it was hard to find support in terms of people encouraging me to go to college or telling me how to get there,” he said. “There just wasn’t the expectation, and so I limited myself and my views on higher education. I ruled it out because I thought my parents couldn’t afford it.”

Yet Tsabetsaye, the son of a homemaker and a Navajo Housing Authority employee, was destined for something greater. He was poised to become a first-generation college graduate, but he didn’t know where to start.

Then a friend introduced him to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

Fort Lewis awards more bachelor’s degrees to Natives than any other college or university in the United States. Only one other institution, the University of Minnesota, Morris, offers free tuition to Native students.

Byron Tsabetsaye, a 2013 graduate of Fort Lewis College, is Navajo and Zuni. (Fort Lewis College)
Byron Tsabetsaye, a 2013 graduate of Fort Lewis College, is Navajo and Zuni. (Fort Lewis College)

Tsabetsaye enrolled and excelled. He served as student body president before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 2013. He finished a Master of Arts degree in higher education and student affairs this spring at New York University, but he attributes his success to Fort Lewis.

“Looking back at myself, it seems almost impossible that I didn’t know about college opportunities,” he said. “At Fort Lewis College, it’s not just a tuition waiver but an opportunity for Natives to go to college.”

Fort Lewis offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines, including programs in science, technology and math, and it boasts more than 80 registered student organizations. With 162 tribes represented—including several from Alaska—it’s in the running for most diverse campus in the nation.

But this small liberal arts college perched atop a hill overlooking Durango is becoming a source of controversy for Colorado as the annual tuition tab increases. More than 1,100 Native students enrolled last year, comprising 30 percent of the total student population—and placing an unprecedented financial strain on the state.

Colorado last year paid 6 million in tuition for Native students at Fort Lewis, with 5 million of that for out-of-state students. The growing bill pits a century-old charter against contemporary questions of who should foot the bill.

To read the entire article, click here.

 

The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee report recommends continued funding for TED development pursuant to Section 2020 in the amount of $2,000,000

You can see the full report here.  An excerpt from page 38:

The recommendation includes $2,000,000 as requested for the development and operation of tribal departments or divisions of education as authorized in 25 U.S.C. 2020.

U.S. Departments of Education and Interior Announce Grant to Assist Pine Ridge School Recovery Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – William Mendoza, Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education at the U.S. Department of Education, and Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, today announced that the Pine Ridge School in South Dakota has received $218,000 at their request under the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant program to aid in recovery from student suicides and suicide attempts.

The Pine Ridge School, which serves the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, requested assistance after experiencing a significant increase in the number of counseling referrals, suicide ideations, and suicide attempts between August 2014 and April 2015.Two of the students who committed suicide were high school students and two were middle-school age.

“We are heartbroken about the tragic loss of life and are committed to working with the Pine Ridge community as it heals. These funds will help Pine Ridge School’s continued efforts to restore the learning environment in the face of these great tragedies.” said Mendoza. “This Administration is committed to supporting tribes in their work to meet the needs of their students. We all must do more to address the challenges across Indian Country.”

“Children and youth need help in seeing that their lives have meaning and that they, too, have the power to create promising futures for themselves. No tribe can long endure the loss of its lifeblood, its children and youth, to suicide,” said Roessel. “Thanks to the Department of Education and the SERV Program, the Pine Ridge School will be able to begin to help its students and their families onto healthier life paths that lead to more positive outcomes.”

In line with the Obama Administration’s Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”) initiative to improve the lives of Native youth by removing the barriers for their progress and academic success, the SERV grant will support a culturally appropriate approach to the recovery of Native youth at Pine Ridge School. The grant will enable the Pine Ridge School to hire additional counselors and social workers to help students during the summer school session and the next school year. It also will support implementation of a multi-faceted and holistic approach to healing that is based on Lakota traditional culture and relevant to Pine Ridge School students, who have dealt with the sudden loss of classmates to suicide or know those who have attempted suicide.

To view the entire press release, click here.

U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million In Grants Available to Help Native Youth

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of an estimated $3 million in grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready. Funding for the new Native Youth Community Projects is a key step toward implementing President Obama’s commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The new grants will support the President’s Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative launched last year to help Native American youth.

“We know that tribes are in the best position to determine the needs and barriers that Native youth face,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Native Youth Community Projects will allow tribal communities to come together to improve outcomes for students.”

In a Federal Register notice, the Department said it would award five to seven demonstration grants ranging from $400,000 to $600,000 to tribal communities before Sept. 30. The new program is based on significant consultation with tribal communities and recognizes that these communities are best-positioned to:

  • Identify key barriers to improving educational and life outcomes for Native youth, and
  • Develop and implement locally produced strategies designed to address those barriers.

Each grant will support a coordinated, focused approach chosen by a community partnership that includes a tribe, local schools and other optional service providers or organizations. For example, the program allows tribes to identify ways to achieve college and career readiness specific to their own communities – whether it’s early learning, language immersion or mental health services. Communities can tailor actions to address one or more of those issues. The success of these first projects will guide the work of future practices that improve the educational opportunities and achievement of preschool, elementary and secondary Indian students.

The President’s FY 2016 budget proposal calls for increased investments across Indian Country, including a total request of $20.8 billion for a range of federal programs that serve tribes – a $1.5 billion increase over the 2015-enacted level. The budget proposal includes $53 million for fiscal year 2016 – a $50 million increase from this year – to significantly expand the Native Youth Community Projects program.

For more on the Administration’s investment in Native American issues, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/nativeamericans.