to address Arizona's
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Arizona: More than 80,000 American Indian/Alaska Native children attend Arizona's public schools. Yet only 1,000 Native Americans are public school teachers. Now, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education, the numbers of American teachers will rise.
The USDE has granted $1,100,000 to Arizona State University for it's distance-learning effort, “The Arizona Four Corners Teacher Preparation Project.” The project integrates distance-learning technology, teaching academies and on-site mentoring for 16 paraprofessionals working in Navajo Nation schools.
Through the program, these Native paraprofessionals will earn a bachelor’s degree and certification in elementary education. They'll also gain specialized knowledge to meet the cultural and academic needs of American Indian students.
“Research shows that the critical difference in student academic outcomes, particularly for linguistic and cultural minority students, is the presence of highly qualified teachers,” said Bryan Brayboy from ASU. “Further, effective Native student learning is closely associated with curricula that incorporates students’ language and culture. Teachers who share the cultural and linguistic background of Navajo students in the Four Corners area offer a critical contribution to children’s schooling experiences.”
The project draws on knowledge gained through the Center's highly successful Indigenous Teacher Preparation Program. So far, ITPP has prepared 10 Native teachers with a 100% retention and graduation rate. One-third of the graduates have continued into master’s programs in Indian education. Two other projects have prepared 40 Native teachers for certification.
These 50 educators are now teaching in their own tribal schools or in schools with high American Indian enrollments.