Oklahoma American Indian Students Lead Nation in Math/Reading Scores

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s American Indian students continue to lead the nation in math and reading scores. The 2015 National Indian Education Study (NIES) released today shows significant gains in reading for Oklahoma fourth-graders, who scored 19 points above the national average.

To read the entire article, courtesy of Ponca City Now, click here.

Failure of Care in Education has Led Tribe to Sue U.S.

Havasupai Elementary, one of the many  tribal schools that are facing poverty, high drop out rate, and some of the worst conditions on reservations is taking action against the U.S. Sheldon Manakaja, a council member said, “you have eighth graders reading and writing on a second-third-grade level.” The condition of the building reported mold, asbestos, faulty electrical systems, structural problems, and other deficiencies throughout the school. The Trump administration as not claimed a position on these schools. Nor has the Interior Department.

To read the entire article from The New York Times, click here.

NB3FIT Day

Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) and Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) have partnered with the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F). Through their team efforts they have pushed for the initiative of youth-led physical fitness and wellness efforts across Indian Country. The event is NB3FIT Day on November 13m 2016. The eligibility requirements: any groups, tribes, organizations, businesses, communities, and families who wish to host a fit day event. To become a participant fill out the form: Gen-I Youth Challenge Event Registration.

 

 

 

 

Pine Ridge Summer Art Program Expands Colors on Life’s Palette

From Indianz.com:

Kyle, S.D. – Even a casual glance at artists in different mediums will find people who were looking for a way to express themselves and deal with the issues in their lives. A summer art program on the Pine Ridge Reservation introduced professional artists to tribal youth in an effort to help combat the high rate of suicide among young Lakota.The Mitakupi – or “My People” Foundation – hosted the “I am Sending a Voice” Summer Arts program to help lift Lakota youth out of the daily task of survival, explained Mitakupi founder Jennifer Jessum.“You know, I grew up in a real difficult situation and art saved my life,” Jessum recalled. “It gave me tools to express myself. It gave me ways to deal with some difficult things I was going through. And I wanted to share that with the kids out here…because every young person goes through difficulties. And out here on Pine Ridge and a lot of First Nations youth…they’re dealing with some additional difficulties.”So many additional difficulties, noted Jessum, that the reservation has had more than 25 youth suicides this year with 150 attempts per month.
Lakota students working on assignments in writing class during Pine Ridge Summer Art Program. Photo by Brittanie Sterner

Artists from as far away as India took part in the 2-week program that offered Lakota youth aged 6 to 21 alternative ways to express themselves through instruction in film, dance, music, visual arts, and writing. Brittanie Sterner is a Philadelphia-based writer. She’s been impacted by the spirituality on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She also cares for the Lakota people here and feels that the state-of-emergency they’re currently experiencing should be recognized and spoken about as well as being at a much higher level on the list of topics of public conversation.Sterner said that since the kids are really into rap, she used instruction in poetry and spoken-word to teach self-expression and claiming identity.“For a long time poetry was a medium that was inaccessible,” observed Sterner. “But that’s really changing. So we’re just trying to give them the tools to share their voices and tell their stories. And we talk a lot about how they’re the only ones who can represent themselves accurately…and using poetry as a self-empowerment tool. And it’s just been amazing. It’s been really amazing.”Although getting started was a bit difficult, Sterner noted that the 8 to 10 regular students who eventually became part of her class blossomed.“Initially, they were a little bit shy,” she recalled. “But then they were super engaged. They were really open to being vulnerable. And being teenagers their poetry goes back and forth between talking about the really difficult topics…like oppression and violence and suicide and cultural identity and hope and courage. Those are thing that come up a lot in spoken word, but they’re also things that are relevant here.”

Adam James Watters shares his work with writing class during Pine Ridge Summer Art Program Photo Credit Brittanie Sterner

Sterner noted that her students were very open to addressing all of those topics. They also had the opportunity to learn how to project their voices and develop confidence by taking part in performance poetry.Los Angeles artist Jess Minckley was invited to be part of the Mitakupi program due to her background of teaching a diverse student population at 3 different colleges, as well as her ability to offer instruction in various levels of art within the same classroom.In her role at the “I am Sending a Voice” Summer Arts program, Minckley offered guidance in drawing, painting, collage and sculpture.“They’re not really great at expressing their feelings in themselves and even being able to understand why they feel the way that they feel,” Minckley commented in observing her Lakota students. “But being able to talk to somebody…I tell them about my life and my experiences and show them ways that contemporary artists tackle cultural and political issues.”Minckley noted that art helped her “stay afloat” during a somewhat chaotic childhood and she enjoys being able to pass on that knowledge to others.
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Mitakupi founder Jennifer Jessum told students that the more experiences they have through opportunities like the “I am Sending a Voice” program, the more colors they’ll have on the paint pallet of their lives to bring into their art.The program culminated with a public presentation/performance of work by the students involved in the project at the Oglala Lakota College Campus in Kyle.

Written by Jim Kent 

7 Books by Native Writers to Slow the “Summer Slide”

From Indian Country Today:

Summer reading can help slow down the “summer slide,” a term educational researchers use to describe the loss of academic skills over the months that kids aren’t in school. With the following books, parents can put the brakes on that slide, and give their kids’ identities a boost.

Below are some outstanding books by Native writers. Buy them if you can, or ask for them at your local library. Librarians want to know what readers want to read. Far too many books by Native writers aren’t reviewed in the review journals librarians use to select books. You’ll be helping them by asking for these books.

Let’s start with a road trip story. Joseph Marshall III’sIn the Footsteps of Crazy Horse(Harry N. Abrams, 2015) has a lot going for it. First off, it’s set in the present day. The main character, Jimmy, is Lakota. But, he has blue eyes and light brown hair because his lineage includes people who aren’t Native. That means he gets teased for his looks. In steps his grandpa, who takes him on a road trip. As they drive, Jimmy learns about Crazy Horse, but he also learns that Native people have different names for places. One example is the Oregon Trail. Jimmy’s grandpa tells him that Native people call it Shell River Road. Marshall’s storytelling is vibrant and engaging, and the perfect tone for kids in middle school.

Start your summer reading journey with this road trip story by Joseph Marshall III.
Start your summer reading journey with this road trip story by Joseph Marshall III.

You can’t miss with Arigon Starr’sSuper Indian(Wacky Productions Unlimited) stories. She’s got the inside track on telling it like it is. Or, could be, if eating commodity cheese could give you super powers. In other words, every panel of Starr’s comics is a reflection of Native life, and she brilliantly pokes at the uber popularTwilightbooks and movies, and testy issues like blood quantum. There’s a ka-pow to thissuper power series(two volumes at this point) that will have you and your kids laughing out loud.

RELATED:A Chat With Arigon Starr, Creator of ‘Super Indian’ Comics

Arigon Starr’s “Super Indian” comics poke fun at many topics.
Arigon Starr’s “Super Indian” comics poke fun at many topics.

Richard Van Camp’sA Blanket of Butterflies(HighWater Press, 2015) is riveting. This graphic novel opens with a boy who looks to be in his early teens, standing in front of a samurai suit of armor in a display case in his tribe’s museum. That suit is going to be returned to its original owner, but the sword is missing. That launches this fast-paced story in which Van Camp provides us with an opportunity to think about museums and who owns items in them.

This book will have students thinking about who owns items in museum collections.
This book will have students thinking about who owns items in museum collections.

For your older kids, take a look atMoonshot(Alternate History Comics Inc., 2015).In it, you’ll find a collection of short stories by Native writers, told in graphic novel format. There is a wide range of voice, style, and tribal nation. Getting to know the writers in this collection can lead readers to other works by Native writers whose stories are inMoonshot.

This collection of short stories will give students a glimpse at the work of a number of Native writers.
This collection of short stories will give students a glimpse at the work of a number of Native writers.

We must not forget your younger kids. For many Native people, berry picking is part of our summer activity. In Julie Flett’sWild Berries(Simply Read Books, 2014), a little boy named Clarence and his grandma are out picking blueberries. They sing as they go. And of course, they eat some berries as they gather them. Clarence sees a fox, and a spider web, and, an ant crawls on him at one point. A huge plus is that you can get and read the book in English, or in Cree.

Follow a young boy and his grandmother as they go berry picking.
Follow a young boy and his grandmother as they go berry picking.

Many of you will be going to gatherings of one sort or another. Check out Cheryl Minnema’sHungry Johnny(Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014). In it, a little boy—named Johnny, of course—comes home and spies a plate of sweet rolls on the counter. He heads straight for that plate, but his grandma stops him, saying “Bekaa, these are for the community feast.” Bekaa is Ojibwe for “wait.” Waiting is tough on Johnny. He’s got to wait while the elders at the feast pray, and then he’s got to wait for them to eat first. Will there be any rolls left for Johnny? Minnema’s use of Ojibwe and English is great. A lot of families talk to each other using a mix of their Native tongue and English. And that feast is like ones so many Native kids go to all the time.

RELATED:‘Hungry Johnny’ Dishes Up Elder Knowledge, Native Culture in Children’s Book

Hungry Johnny must be patient in this children’s book.
Hungry Johnny must be patient in this children’s book.

One last suggestion is Marcie Rendon’sPowwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life(Carolrhoda Books, 1996). It is a nonfiction photo essay about a family on the powwow circuit. Rendon’s words, coupled with photographs by Cheryl Walsh Bellville, are a delight. Those of you who go to summer powwows know exactly what it’s like to be out there, but being able to give your kids a book that reflects what you’re all doing: priceless.

(Written By Debbie Reese)

Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/07/20/7-books-native-writers-slow-summer-slide-165153

Airing Tonight on PBS NewsHour: Education Week Reports: A New Vision for Science Education

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.

LEARN MORE TONIGHT ON PBS NEWSHOUR.

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DOE Releases Civil Rights Data Collection Report

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.