Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

White House Report on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Represents Important First Step


WASHINGTON— The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education held a conference call today to discuss a recently released report that includes recommendations on improving education for American Indian and Alaska Native students.

“This report and its findings should not be overlooked,” says Mary Cathryn Ricker, executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. “We appreciate the Obama administration’s commitment to building a future where every American Indian and Alaska Native student has access to a high-quality public education.

“However, as highlighted in this report—which reflects the voices of teachers, parents, community members, tribal leaders, tribal community members and students—there is much work to do.

“The rate of suicide for American Indian and Alaska Native students is the highest in the country, and bullying has been linked as a contributing factor. There are approximately 900 schools nationwide with mascots that use Native American imagery. And too many schools that serve American Indian and Alaska Native students still struggle with inadequate facilities, transportation and resources, as well as insensitive policies that are not culturally appropriate. This is completely unacceptable.

“The challenges are great but not insurmountable. The AFT looks forward to partnering with the Obama administration and other key advocates and organizations to carry out the important recommendations in this report, from eradicating negative imagery and mascots to supporting Native American languages and promoting positive school discipline. Together, we will ensure that every public school is safe and welcoming for every student—no matter where they are from, what language they speak or their cultural background.”

“Our members who work daily with American Indian and Alaska Native students know all too well the hardships and often extraordinary challenges facing these students throughout the country,” says Sue Parton, president of the Federation of Indian Service Employees, an AFT affiliate that represents members in 22 states.

“As they work hard day in and day out to address the unique needs of their students, they are dealing with teacher shortages and overcrowded classrooms. As this report highlighted, they understand what it means when Native Americans report feeling invisible and vulnerable in terms of education reform and federal and state policies. The time to change that is now. We need every stakeholder, policymaker and community to commit to do the hard work necessary to reclaim the promise of public education for our American Indian and Alaska Native students.”


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