The US Department of the Interior has announced that it is providing $2.5 million in a grant to promote tribal control of schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE):
“We believe strongly that American Indian children deserve an academically rigorous, culturally appropriate education. Beyond providing the skills to succeed economically, honoring tribal cultures and languages is vital to the longevity of tribal traditions, identity and self-confidence,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
The grant will ensure that Native American students who attend these schools will receive the education they need to succeed in the workforce. Funding will be offered to federally recognized tribes for the purpose of creating a tribal school reform plan.
Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the American Indian Education Study Group, issued a Blueprint for Reform on June 13. The plan safeguards a high quality education for all those attending BIE-funded schools.
“The American Indian Education Study Group made serious recommendations for improving how federal education services and resources are delivered in Indian Country, and the Sovereignty in Indian Education grant program responds to their concerns,” said Assistant Secretary Washburn. “With greater tribal control of schools, tribes have more power to infuse schools with tribal cultural values and native languages, both of which can engage children better and help them to succeed.”
The initiative hopes to unify tribes in order to build a network of BIE-funded schools that will have a strong connection to the federal government. The Department of the Interior plans to help the strengthening by sharing information pertaining to successful school systems.
Allowing tribes to have control over their education programs will improve academic results, because individual tribes have a greater understanding of what their communities need to succeed.
Technical assistance will be provided through the BIE to individual tribes to strengthen school processes involving planning, implementation, and assessment. A forum will also be provided that will allow tribes to collaborate and share problem-solving strategies.
“As tribal control of education is a vital part of self-determination and self-governance, the Bureau of Indian Education is strongly committed to ensuring that tribal sovereignty over education is encouraged, supported and strengthened wherever and whenever possible,” said BIE Director Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel. “Sovereignty in Indian Education grants will assist those tribes seeking to assume operational control over the BIE-funded schools that serve them and those working to develop and build their tribal school systems around BIE schools.”
Grants ranging from $100,000-200,000 will be awarded each fiscal year dependent on the number of schools and students, how difficult it will be to create a new school system, and the tribe’s approach.
In order to be eligible, tribal education departments must have three or more BIE-funded schools on their reservations.