Native Village 
Youth and Education News

October 2012

Solving shortage at tribal schools
Program to help those with B.A. become teachers
Condensed by Native Village


South Dakota: South Dakota’s Board of Regents believes it may have a solution for the teacher shortages at tribal schools. Regents will ask the state for $446,675 to train tribal members with non-ed/ bachelor degrees to pursue teaching as a second profession.

Cheyenne River Education Line Office
Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School
Crow Creek/Lower Brule Education Line Office
Flandreau Indian School
Pine Ridge Education Line Office
Pine Ridge School

“Here in South Dakota, finding qualified American Indian teachers, or qualified teachers ... on the reservations is oftentimes problematic,” said Sam Gingerich from the Board of Regents. “But we also believe that if you look at where schools are for a highly qualified workforce, and what we have to do to meet that, it is not a huge gap at this point in time. This could provide an additional bump in the number of those qualified applicants.”

Their program would model a similar one Black Hills State University. For one year, candidates are placed in a reservation school classroom to work as an educator. At the same time, they would take coursework necessary to earn a teaching license. Their instructors would come to them from tribal colleges/universities (TCUs) or public universities.

Rosebud Education Line Office
Tiospaye Topa School
American Horse School
Crazy Horse School
Crow Creek Tribal School - Elementary
Crow Creek Tribal School - Middle School

The hope then is that candidates will continue to serve as teachers in their communities for long terms.

“We believe a grow-your-own approach would provide role models for reservation schools who are committed to the Native American culture and values, and would provide long-term tenure in the schools,” said Pat Simpson, Dean of the College of Education at Black Hills State.

BHS has already approached Oglala Lakota College (Pine Ridge Reservation) and

Sinte Gleska University (Rosebud Reservation) about collaborating on the effort. Other public universities could make arrangements with tribal colleges as well

Much of the $446,675 would pay the candidates' teaching salaries and cost of their coursework, Simpson said.

Crow Creek Tribal School - High School
Enemy Swim Day School
Little Wound School
Loneman Day School
Lower Brule Day School
Marty Indian School
Pierre Indian Learning Center

“That would allow them not to have to be employed during the 10 months they’re taking the program,” she said.

Black Hills State has a similar program in place called Project SELECT. SELECT trains people with bachelor degrees to become middle and high school teachers in high needs areas such as math and science. That one-year program is working with the Rapid City and Douglas school districts.

Keith Moore from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe served as national director of the Bureau of Indian Education. He called this proposal “a great idea.”

Research has shown that “if you find folks who understand the circumstances and culture and where they’re going to be living, that there is a greater likelihood that you can fill that void of recruiting and retaining teachers and administrators,” he said.

Moore says candidates must be rigorously prepared to come in and teach with all the necessary tools to do the job. He also stressed the importance of selecting the best candidates.

Porcupine Day School
Rock Creek Grant School
Sicangu Owayawa Oti
Sitting Bull School Office
St Francis Indian School
Takini School
Tiospa Zina Tribal School
Wounded Knee District School

“I would think you would want to be sure that what you’re trying to accomplish is to recruit and retain,” Moore said. “I wonder how you evaluate whether folks have the understanding and stamina to hang in there and teach?”

He said the proposal’s plan for public universities and tribal colleges to collaborate “would be groundbreaking work.”

“For years, there has been an animosity between tribal colleges and public universities,” Moore said. “There hasn’t been a real collaborative effort. This would be neat to bring these entities together.”

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