Area schools feel impact of reporting changes
Colorado: Demographics at many U.S. schools have drastically changed, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education. This years, it changed its standards in race and ethnicity reporting. They say the goal is to gather more detailed information about students.
The Department of Education's new survey includes a category for multiracial students. Students are asked if they identify themselves with Latino or Hispanic origin.
If the answer is "yes", multiracial students are counted as Hispanic or Latino ONLY. Their other cultural identities are not counted, even if students identify with them.
This includes Native American students.
“People are very passionate about their culture and the way it’s reported,” said Ignacio High School Principal Bev Lyons. “Now they are told ‘this is what you get,’ and there isn’t the option to identify a predominate culture.”
Fort Lewis College and Ignacio School
District 11 count Native American
students among their biggest demographics. They are
closely watching how reshuffling race and ethnicity will
damage their school's mission, message or even funding structure.
School District has been more affected than most by the
new reporting standards because so many students are
both Hispanic and Native American. The district has
served mostly the same students for the past two years.
fewer students are identified as Native American. This
decrease in Native American students
from last year to this year.
“Even if a student is 25% Hispanic and 75% Native American, they will be classified as Hispanic in the system,” says Rocco Fuschetto, Ignacio Schools Superintendent.
He said the new standards have not improved how his students are identified.
“If it was up to me, we shouldn’t have any classification,” he said.
This drop in Native American students has a significant affect on the budget. The district educates children living on tribal lands. Tribal lands are exempt from property taxes, so the U.S. government pays the schools for each Native American student.
Fewer students classified as Native American means less
“This change, or new dynamic, is uniquely visible here,” said Richard Miller,
FLC's executive director of institutional research.
Fort Lewis College reported it has 889 Native American students, but only 786 have Certificates of Indian Blood. They added that only 694 students are Native American under the new categorization.
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