Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2    May, 2011

Area schools feel impact of reporting changes
Condensed by Native Village

 Changes to DOE standards in race and ethnicity reporting
Multi-racial students who answered yes to having Hispanic or Latino ethnicity are classified as ONLY Hispanic or Latino. The other races they identify with are not counted. This includes Native Americans.
“Even if a student is 25% Hispanic and 75% Native American, they will be classified as Hispanic in the system,”  said Rocco Fuschetto, Ignacio Schools Superintendent.

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.

Colorado’s schools are seeing an increase in students categorized as Hispanic. Numbers are declining for students  students in other racial categories.

Ignacio 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. This year, 150 fewer students are identified as Native American. This is a 21%  decrease in Native American students from last year to this year.

That decrease can be simply explained.

“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 funding.

At Fort Lewis College, the new demographics are drawing attention.  Between 2009-2010, students identified as Native American fell by
3%. Hispanic grew 3%, multiracial grew by 3%.

Such numbers are of great importance at Fort Lewis. The College's historic mission is to educate Native American students.

“This change, or new dynamic, is uniquely visible here,” said Richard Miller, FLC's executive director of institutional research.
Fort Lewis receives its funds from the state through the Native American Tuition Waiver. The amount is determined by the number of students with Certificates of Indian Blood. Because of the waiver,
Native American students from any state can attend FLC free, and the state reimburses the college.

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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