Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2   September 2011

Tribal college officials give Obama administration a deadline
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There are 36 tribal colleges and universities in 14 states. They serve about 30,000 full- and part-time students. Of those, 21% are non-Natives.

Tom Shortbull is grateful for the extra $3,000,000 in U.S. federal funds for Oglala Lakota College. But the OLC president says what America's 36 tribal colleges really need is President Obama's signature on a long-delayed Indian Education executive order.  That order would keep tribal colleges on the radar screens of all federal agencies.

William Mendoza is acting director of the White House's Initiative for Tribal Colleges and Universities. Mendoza recently visited the OLC campus to talk about tribal college success. He also got an earful about President Obama's failure to sign the order.

"We are very disappointed," Shortbull told Mendoza.  "We are insisting that an executive order for tribal colleges be signed. He really has to sign one before he leaves office."

Obama has already issued an executive order that covers both black and Hispanic colleges and universities. However, the President wants a broader approach for Native students that covers Kindergarten -post high school education.  The Department of Education [DOE] also wants the new order to include non-education issues on reservations that impact educational ones..

Shortbull set an end-of-the-year deadline for DOE Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama to meet. Mendoza promised to take Shortbull's deadline message back to Duncan.

"We are really working hard to meet that deadline," he said.  "We've laid some important ground and the president wants to make sure it is in place for a new executive order ... to help meet his 2020 College Completion goals."

In the meantime, Mendoza noted, Duncan sent 63 DOE grants worth $53,000,000 to tribal colleges last year. Much of it came from savings due to changes in the federal student loan program.

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