Reminder: Hearing on “Examining the Challenges Facing Native American Schools”

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will be having a hearing on April 22, 2015, on “Examining the Challenges Facing Native American Schools.”

The hearing is scheduled at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn H.O.B.

To watch the hearing live, you can utilize this link.

Witness List

Ms. Jill Burcum
Editorial Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mr. Brian Cladoosby
National Congress of American Indians
Embassy of Tribal Nations
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Melissa Emrey-Arras
Education, Workforce and Income Security Issues
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Boston, Massachusetts

Mr. Quinton Roman Nose
Executive Director
Tribal Education Departments National Assembly
Boulder, Colorado

Quinton’s written testimony can be seen here.

Troubled school construction project moves forward

Here, from  An excerpt:

LAME DEER, Mont. –– If all goes as planned under new approach to a Lame Deer Elementary School expansion project funded by Impact Aid, students at Northern Cheyenne will start next school year in new classrooms, dine in a new cafeteria and their parents will be assured that their children have a modern and safe school. And, in early 2016, more classrooms, administrative offices and a commons area will be completed.

Stalled for nearly a year due to conflicts between the School, prime contractor, and architect, a $15 million Lame Deer Elementary School expansion project is once again moving along.

“There is a little bad news,” said Bill Parker, Superintendent, “but also a lot of good news – the project is well underway again and we are making good progress.”

Lame Deer Public Schools has received about ten million in Federal Impact Aid funds to construct a significant addition to the Elementary School to address overcrowding and update an aging facility. Started in 2013, the project was organized into two phases with the first awarded to DPS Construction, Boyd, Montana and Spectrum Architects, Billings. Scheduled for completion in January 2014 and underway for approximately a year that job included demolition of a portion of the existing school; construction of new classrooms, restrooms, cafeteria and geothermal water wells. Phase 11 will provides additional classrooms, a commons area and administrative offices.

Disputes between the School and the architect and contractor developed. The school was concerned about unmet construction deadlines, quality of construction and project expenditures while contractors wanted more money. As reported in earlier stories, the School Board terminated contracts with both Spectrum Architects and DPS in the fall of 2013. Then, clean-up of major demolition was not completed. However, Parker pointed out that the local Bureau of Indian Affairs completed that work, saving the school $80,000.

Executive Director, Quinton Roman Nose’s Testimony to the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on FY 16 Budget

Here is Mr. Roman Nose’s Testimony, which he will be presenting on March 25, 2015.  An excerpt:

TEAs are in a unique position to halt and reverse the negative outcomes for Native students. TEAs have already proven that they are capable of improving Native American student outcomes. For example, the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, one of the STEP grantees, has a science, technology, and math program, among many other education programs, that serves approximately 250 Chickasaw students. Ninety percent of senior students participating in the program enroll in college. Through the STEP grant, Chickasaw has already put in place the framework to improve student outcomes and attendance. For example, before the co-governance model was in place, several Native American students were falling through the cracks and being expelled. Now, the Chickasaw Nation has stepped in to move expelled students into other alternative high school programs. Through this process, Local Education Agencies (“LEAs”) now understand that this is exactly the type of situation that the Chickasaw Nation TEA can address before the expulsion stage so intervention services can be provided, such as counseling, to students that are at risk.

Tipton Reintroduces Bill to Provide Certainty for Native American Indian Students

Here, from BBNA.  An excerpt:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo. (3rd CD), issued the following news release:

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) has reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives to help Fort Lewis College and the State of Colorado cover tuition costs of qualifying Native American Indian students who receive federally-mandated free tuition at the college under a 1910 federal land grant. Tipton delivered the legislation today accompanied by Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas and former United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

The Native American Indian Education Act would require the federal government to meet treaty obligations to help cover the tuition costs for out-of-state students. Currently, the State of Colorado has been left to cover the expense, which has significantly increased in recent years and is jeopardizing the future of the important program. The University of Minnesota, Morris has a similar mandate and would benefit from this legislation.

“The State of Colorado is currently forced to carry the weight of an unfunded federal mandate, which has created uncertainty for this vital program at Fort Lewis College that satisfies our nation’s treaty obligations and ensures that many talented and bright Native American Indian students have the opportunity to get a quality education,” Tipton said. “Should the state face a budget shortfall, this program could be at risk. Our legislation seeks to address this issue by requiring the federal government to fully live up to its obligation, easing the burden on Colorado taxpayers, and providing certainty for students at Fort Lewis and other impacted institutions.”

The bill, H.R. 1089 – To help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher education opportunities for Native Americans, can be seen here when it is posted.

SCIA Presidential Budget Oversight Hearing

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an Oversight Hearing on the President’s FY2016 Budget Request for Indian Programs.

The witnesses were:

The Honorable Kevin Washburn
Assistant Secretary- Indian Affairs-U.S. Department of the Interior
View Testimony

The Honorable Yvette Roubideaux
Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Native Americans and Alaskan Natives-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
View Testimony

Mr. Rodger J. Boyd
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Native American Programs-U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
View Testimony

You can watch the hearing here, and an excerpt from Assistant Secretary Washburn:

In today’s global economy, a high quality education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity—it is a prerequisite to success.  President Obama set out a vision for a 21st century education system, grounded in both high academic standards and tribal values and traditions.  The Indian Affairs’ budget proposes a $1.0 billion investment in Indian education to support a comprehensive transformation of the Bureau of Indian Education.  The proposal recognizes the progress in self-governance in Indian education reflected in the fact Tribal Nations have contracted to run more than two-thirds of Federal Indian schools.