Education Opinion

Native American Students Are the Forgotten Minority

By Walt Gardner — July 28, 2017 1 min read
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This country’s outrageous treatment of Native Americans is no more evident than in what purports to be the education we provide them (“How America Is Failing Native American Students,” The Nation, Jul. 24). It’s a gross understatement that they have not received anything even close to an equal education. But the worse is still to come, as more than $4 billion will be eliminated from programs aimed at supporting them.

You don’t have to be a student of history to know that Native Americans have been robbed by the government of almost all they once had. But since this column is dedicated solely to education, I’ll confine my remarks accordingly. The facts speak for themselves. American Indian and Alaska Native students are suspended more than any other racial group, with the exception of African Americans. They are disciplined about two times the rate of their white peers, according to a 2015 report by the UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies. Moreover, although they constitute approximately one percent of the overall student population, they account for two percent of all school arrests and three percent of all incidents referred by school official to law enforcement. Their threadbare curriculum omits lessons on Native American culture and history.

The trifecta of punitive discipline, barebones curriculum and declining federal funding bodes ill for these students. Their ancestors were promised certain public services through treaties. Among the services was education. And yet their schools are horrendous. It’s a national scandal that makes a mockery of our pledge.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.