Native Village
Youth and Education news
October 2010 Volume 2

Tribal officials: Indian education needs more money needs money
Condensed by Native Village

Washington D.C.: Tribal Officials told a congressional hearing that Native American students could achieve more academically if:

Their crumbling schools are fixed,
More money is provided for teachers and supplies,
Tribes gain more control of what happens in classrooms.

Dayna Brave Eagle is education director for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He says that for a century, the federal government's Bureau of Education has failed Indian Schools. He wants the tribes to take control.

"[The BIE has] failed," he said. "It's time now for the tribes to make decision for their future."

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., held the field hearing on Indian education. Tribal members testimonies will hel Congress decide what changes are needed in Indian education.

*In 2007, less than 33%of the U.S. BIE [Bureau of Indian Education] schools met yearly progress requirements.
* Only 33% of Indian students graduate from high school in South Dakota. Overall graduation rates are 75%
*Reservations have extremely high poverty rates.
The unemployment rates on some reservations is up to 85%.  
*Teen suicide and alcohol and drug abuse is rampant.
*In South Dakota, only 50% of Native students passed proficiency in reading tests. The state average is 76%.
*The BIE funds 183 schools in 23 states. 63 are now rated in poor physical condition.
*It would take *$2,000,000,000 to bring all the schools up to safety standards.



Tribal officials said more money is need to:
Recruit and keep good teachers in rural areas and replace aging textbooks
Teach more native language and culture to build students' self-esteem to reduce teen suicide.
Motivate students to learn more in traditional academic courses.

Schools for Indian students need more flexibility to meet student needs and measure progress.  "A good education is essential for the future of Indian youth." Herseth Sandlin said.

Rachel Bernie, Yankton Sioux Tribe, said poverty, poor schools. a bad economy. and other problems cause students to lose hope. Reservations must encourage more parents to value education and make sure their children go to school.

Thomas Shortbull, president of the Oglala Lakota College, said her tribal college has trained a lot of teachers and nurses, but there are no jobs on the reservation. ..

Emma Jean Blue Earth, Standing Rock Sioux,  said tribes need direct funding for schools, improved safety, school repairs, and more tribal control of schools. "There's nothing wrong with our students. It's our system that has failed our students," Blue Earth said.

Hazel Red Bird, Cheyenne River Sioux, said Indian people must take responsibility for their future.  "Ultimately, it is up to us," she said.

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