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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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, praised Congress’ passage of S. 184, the Native American Children’s Safety Act. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), with bipartisan support.

S. 184 amends the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Feb. 2, 2015, and passed the full Senate on June 1, 2015. The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 23, 2016.

“Protecting Native children is paramount,” said Barrasso. “Requiring background checks for potential foster care parents of Indian children is just common sense. I want to thank Senator Hoeven for his leadership in introducing this important bill, and I call on the president to sign it into law as soon as possible.”

“Our bill ensures that Native American children living on reservations have all of the same protections when assigned to foster care that children living off the reservation have,” Hoeven said. “The measure requires background checks for all adults living in a foster home, which will help to protect children placed there at an already difficult time in their lives.”

DENVER — Monday, April 18, 2016 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Governor’s Commission to Study American Indian Representation in Public Schools today released their final report on the use of mascots and imagery in Colorado public schools. The group was joined by William (Bill) Mendoza, the executive director of White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

“This Commission has charted a path forward for Colorado with a willingness to work together through conversation and collaboration,” said Hickenlooper. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in this process. Their hard work gives us all a better understanding of each other and the complexities of this issue.”

Representatives from federally recognized tribes, Colorado’s American Indian population, institutions of public education, state agencies, and community stakeholders make up the 15 member commission. The Commission was created by the governor in 2015 through executive order.

After five months of community meetings and discussion, the Commission established four guiding principles that can be taken on by local communities, educational institutions, state agencies and organizations. The four guiding principles that are outlined in the report include:

  • The elimination of derogatory and offensive American Indian mascots, imagery, and names and a strong recommendation for communities to review their depictions in facilitated public forums.
  • The recognition and respect of Tribal sovereignty and a strong recommendation for schools to enter into formal relationships with federally recognized tribe to retain their American Indian imagery.
  • The recognition and respect of local control by elected boards of education and an active involvement of local communities, students, and citizens around the topic of American Indian mascots.
  • A strong educational focus and outreach.

“Through participation in this Commission, our tribe was able to see the lack of education and awareness around American Indian history and culture in Colorado’s public schools,” said Chairman Clement Frost, Southern Ute Indian Tribe. “We believe it is incumbent upon our Tribe, the State of Colorado, and Colorado public schools to recognize the role of American Indians in Colorado’s history and to ensure that this history is taught comprehensively and accurately.”

The Commission was invited by four communities with American Indian mascots to engage in a discussion about the ongoing struggle for local traditions versus the desire to treat American Indians respectfully and honor their history and culture.

“The recommendations made by Governor Hickenlooper and the Commission are not only needed and appropriate, they are consistent with the concerns raised by native youth across the country, who are calling upon education decision-makers to address harmful Native-themed imagery so that all students,  particularly Native Americans, experience a safe and welcoming school environment,” said William (Bill) Mendoza, executive director,  White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

“As an administrator, emphasizing respect for all cultures and for all people is one of our most important educational missions,” said Jeff Rasp Principal at Strasburg High School. “Our partnership with the Arapaho tribe has been one of the most beneficial experiences ever for our school.”

“The use of American Indian mascots creates an opportunity for schools and tribes to engage in meaningful relationships with one another,” said Chairman Manuel Heart, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “Schools like Strasburg High School are positive examples of a way in which the use of a mascot can be the catalyst for fostering a respectful, educational, and unique partnership that also acknowledges the sovereignty of American Indian nations.”

To see a full copy of the report, please visit here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                               Feb. 29,2016
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

Support Aimed at Helping Native Students Become College-, Career-Ready

The U.S. Department of Education today announced it is more than tripling – from $5.3 million to $17.4 million – the availability of funding for grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready.

The extra support is being provided for Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP) as an ongoing step toward implementing President Obama’s commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The grants will support the President’s Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative to help Native American youth.

 In a Federal Register notice, the Department said it expects to make approximately 19 demonstration awards ranging from $500,000 to $1 million to tribal communities before Sept. 30.

 “In too many places across Indian Country, Native youth do not receive adequate resources to help prepare them for success in school or after graduation,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.  “The Native Youth Community Projects are an investment in bringing tribal communities together to change that reality, and dramatically transform the opportunities for Native youth.  When tribal communities join together around shared goals for Native youth, we will see locally driven solutions coming from leaders who work most closely with students and are best-positioned to lead change.”

William Mendoza, executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, said, “These resources are desperately needed in tribal communities and are rooted in the value of tribally driven partnerships and strategies as a foundation to addressing the challenges Native youth face.”

 Today’s announcement builds on the NYCP grants awarded last year to a dozen recipients in nine states that impacted over 30 tribes and involved more than 48 schools. The NYCP program is based on significant consultation with tribal communities and recognizes that these communities can best:

·         Identify key barriers to and opportunities for 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 populations – which could include any number of approaches, such as early learning, language immersion or mental health services. Communities can tailor strategies to address barriers to success for students in college-and-career readiness.  The success of these 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 recent fiscal year 2017 budget proposal calls for increased investments across Indian Country.  The plan would:

 ·         Significantly expand the overall funding for NYCP to $53 million.

·         Provide $350 million for Preschool Development Grants – an increase of $100 million over fiscal year 2016 – to help develop and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities, including planning grants to tribal governments.

·         Help nearly 470,000 Native students with increased support for Title I programs serving low-income schools with funding necessary to provide high-need students access to an excellent education.  The proposal seeks $15.4 billion – a $450 million increase – for all Title I efforts.

 In addition, Acting Secretary King will be visiting the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in the coming months to listen to the needs of tribal officials and share information on the efforts by the Administration to help Native youth and adults.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     

February 25, 2016

Washington, D.C. – At the National Indian Education Association’s (NIEA) annual legislative summit, Senator Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced he was introducing a bill to Congress that would have ramifications for the future of Native education. The Reforming American Indian Standards of Education (S.2580) (RAISE) Act would eliminate the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and establish an independent Indian Education Agency within the Department of the Interior.

While speaking to NIEA membership about the bill, Senator Barrasso said, “BIA is not an agency equipped to run schools…the [process] needs to be more streamlined with increased accountability.” He went on to say, “My legislation will ensure that the administrators, teachers, and students from tribal communities are being listened to and that their needs are being met. It is an important first step for better transparency and accountability for schools across Indian country.”

Under Barrasso’s plan a director, who would be appointed to a six-year term, would lead the new Indian Education Agency. The new agency’s director would be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The new agency would also staff two assistant directors, one overseeing education curriculum and the other overseeing facilities management. The bill assumes that by merging all education and administrative offices under the leadership of one agency, a more efficient and functional Indian education system could be established- one that could be responsive to local needs.

NIEA’s Executive Director, Ahniwake Rose said of the bill, “The proposed language is a direct response to the reform needed within the BIE system – and Mr. Barrasso has provided a bold proposal on how to improve the process. I look forward to addressing NIEA membership about the bill to better understand how this action would impact their communities and working with Senator Barrasso to determine what is in the best interest of Native students.”

NIEA will continue to monitor and provide updates to members on the advancement of this bill.

 To read S. 2580, please click here.