Education

Indians Irked by Plan To Shift E.D. Programs

By Tom Mirga — May 26, 1982 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Washington--Representatives of several American Indian organizations expressed extreme displeasure with the Reagan Administration’s proposal to transfer federal Indian-education programs from the Education Department (ED) to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) during hearings before a Senate subcommittee last week.

The proposed transfer of several federal education programs to the BIA was included as a part of the Administration’s proposal to dismantle ED and to disperse some of its components to other branches of the government.

The Administration, however, has not sent its bill to dismantle ed to Congress, and some observers have predicted that the Administration will not introduce the controversial plan in the current legislative session.

Witnesses Worried

Witnesses who testified at the hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, however, indicated that they were extremely worried about the prospect of a transfer of programs to the BIA

“It is clearly recognized that the Department of the Interior and the BIA are not the entities upon which Indian parents could entrust the responsibility for providing their children with quality education, and for more than 20 years the general theme of Indian education has been to move responsibility from their exclusive domain,” Francis McKinley, a member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, told members of the committee.

“Now we are being asked to reverse those policies completely and to transfer programs to the BIA,” he added, “without consultation with the Indian people, ignoring the recommendations of many Indian tribes and national Indian organizations, and with no adequate justification or rationale.”

The proposed transfer of education programs to the BIA “would be tantamount to setting the fox to guarding the chickens,” added John Rouillard, vice-chairman of the advisory council.

“The BIA fails to acknowledge that education is a trust responsibility,” Mr. Rouillard continued. “Since their concern does not include education, we feel that Congress’s support of this proposal would be acknowledgement of [the BIA’s] concept of the limits of their trust responsibility,” he added.

Other witnesses who testified before the committee also expressed concerns about the cumulative effect of federal budget reductions on Indian education programs and about BIA proposals to close several boarding schools within the next two years.

But practically all witnesses said they were most concerned about the BIA’s perceived retreat from the position that the education of Indian children is a solemn trust responsibility of the federal government.

“The United States assumed the responsibility to protect tribes and their ways of life through a series of treaties and other federal laws,” said Rudy Clements, a member of the education committee of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Spring Reservation in Oregon.

“We believe unequivocally that just as you cannot separate a people from their lands, the federal government cannot separate itself from its responsibilty to Indian people,” he added.

Status Unclear

Roy H. Sampsel, deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs in the Department of the Interior, said, however, that the status of the trust relationship with regard to education was not particularly clear.

“We should not be so troubled about the legal definition of this relationship between the government and the tribes,” Mr. Sampsel said. ''We must remember that the federal government recognizes a clear need for Indian education and that there is no attempt on the part of this Administration to back away from that responsibility.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 1982 edition of Education Week as Indians Irked by Plan To Shift E.D. Programs

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)