(February 13, 2012) In December, the President issued an executive order on improving American Indian and Alaska Native educational opportunities in light of the fact that these students are dropping out of school at alarming rates, that the
has not been successful in closing achievement gaps, and many native languages are close to extinction. Recently, a consortium of federally-funded technical assistance providers west of the Mississippi came together examine some of the state of Native Americans in schools and the implications of those realities on their work particularly to ensure staff development that is provided to schools serving American Indian students is culturally responsive and appropriate. Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, is joined by Veronica Betancourt, M.A., Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., and Paula Johnson, M.A., to share their reflections from the event key insights about providing technical assistance to improve education of American Indian students. Send comments to
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There are approximately 624,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students in the U.S. K-12 system. About 93 percent attend regular public schools and 7 percent attend schools administered by the
government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, a system of 184 schools for educating American Indian students spread over 23 states. (from Native Education 101)
* Bradley, Kristin, Paula, and Veronica share their overall impressions from the event.
* Kristin emphasizes that good technical assistance starts with listening and understanding the American Indian tribes’ unique cultural perspectives and concerns.
* Paula explains the importance of conducting a needs assessment with multiple stakeholders, including the teachers. She talks about building a sense of ownership with those teachers to help them embrace the change that comes to their campuses.
* Veronica reinforces how good listening helps lead to culturally responsive education programs that set up students to be successful.
* Kristin talks about navigating the complexities of the education systems serving Native American students.
* Veronica notes the parallels between the stories and challenges described by the Native American panelists and those that she and her Hispanic family faced growing up.
* Paula stresses the urgency of beginning to collect and share good data about Native American students across the country.
* Kristin shares her excitement about the opportunity for IDRA to “make a difference” in the lives of Native American students.
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