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

Tackling the Native American achievement gap


January 8, 2020

School entrance to the Sovereign Community School located at the former SeeWorth Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Latoya Lonelodge / Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune (CATT)

More than 130,000 of Oklahoma's roughly 703,000 public school students are Native American. Despite recent publicized movements to be more culturally sensitive (generally through changing mascot names) schools rarely address the bullying many of these students experience, and inappropriate stereotypes persist, even in the classroom. According to the 2015 White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, these students also are disproportionately suspended and expelled for nonviolent, disruptive behavior.

Phil Gover, a former admissions counselor at Dartmouth in charge of Native American recruitment, points out, "Native American students experience far higher dropout rates than other communities." He adds that while African American and Latino students, first-generation college students and low income students have seen gains in graduation rates, Native American students have not. "The things that are holding these kids back," he says, "almost always have more to do with mental and emotional trauma and abuse, either actually experienced, or historical trauma that impact the people in their lives. That's the kind of thing we talk about openly and want our kids to be equipped to manage as they emerge in to adulthood."


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