Equity & Diversity Project

Education in Indian Country: Obstacles and Opportunity

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On most measures of educational success, Native American students trail every other racial and ethnic subgroup of students. To explore the reasons why, Education Week sent a writer, a photographer, and a videographer to American Indian reservations in South Dakota and California earlier this fall. Their work is featured in this special package of articles, photographs, and multimedia. Commentary essays offer additional perspectives.

Opinions From a Native Perspective

Low rates of high school graduation, among other grim educational outcomes, weigh on Indian Country today. In spite of their deep concerns, many Native leaders see a direction for how to improve student achievement and academic prosperity, including through the preservation of tribal cultures and languages.

Education Week Commentary editors partnered with the National Indian Education Association to invite Native leaders to discuss such issues—the collection follows below. Artist Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw/Ponca) contributed illustrations.

Native Americans: A Statistical Profile

Number of federally recognized tribes: 566
Population: American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 1.7 percent of the U.S. population—some 5.2 million people.
States with the largest populations of American Indians and Alaska Natives collectively: California, Oklahoma, and Arizona
Public school enrollment: Just over 600,000 Native students, or 1.1 percent of the nation’s total pre-K-12 enrollment, attend public schools nationwide; that includes nearly 42,000 students in federal Bureau of Indian Education, or BIE, schools.
Number of BIE schools: 183, some directly operated by the federal agency and others tribally run under contract
Private school enrollment: Some 22,000 Native students attend private schools, making up 0.5 percent of private school enrollment nationally.

Equity & Diversity Video A Long Road Back to the 'Rez'
On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation education for most remains an unfulfilled promise for moving out of profound poverty.
December 5, 2013
8:33
mr opener 2000
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Equity & Diversity Project Education in Indian Country: Betting on a School
California's Morongo Band of Mission Indians is sinking its casino-generated wealth into a new school.
Lesli A. Maxwell, December 4, 2013
8 min read
running in place sd opener
Megan Garner and Swikar Patel/Education Week
Equity & Diversity Project Education in Indian Country: Running in Place
Explore challenges clouding a Native American boy’s future and opportunities that lie in a state-of-the-art school run by a California tribe.
Lesli A. Maxwell, December 4, 2013
19 min read
Equity & Diversity Interactive 1819-2013: A History of American Indian Education
Explore the challenges clouding a Native American boy’s future & the opportunities lying in a state-of-the-art school run by a Calif. tribe.
December 3, 2013
1 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Brent Greenwood
College & Workforce Readiness Commentary A Crucial Investment in Indian Higher Ed.
More needs to be done to prepare American Indian students to attend and succeed in college, Fort Lewis College Provost Barbara Morris writes.
Barbara Morris, December 3, 2013
5 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Brent Greenwood
Equity & Diversity Commentary Common Core From a Tribal Perspective
Leaders of the Pueblo of Jemez have adapted the common-core standards to make them more culturally appropriate and educationally effective in their community, writes Kevin Shendo, the pueblo's education director.
Kevin Shendo, December 3, 2013
3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Brent Greenwood
Equity & Diversity Commentary Upending an Education Crisis in Indian Country
Early education is a critical step to bridging the achievement gap between Native and non-Native students, writes Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
Jefferson Keel, December 3, 2013
5 min read
Equity & Diversity Federal Cuts Take a Toll on Native Americans' Schools
The sequester's 5 percent across-the-board cuts have been particularly hard on schools serving Native students—many of which rely heavily on federal funds.
Alyson Klein & Lesli A. Maxwell, December 3, 2013
5 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Brent Greenwood
Federal Commentary Title VII: A Path to Education Equity
By bringing the local culture of Native students into the public schools they attend, Title VII has been one of the most important programs for reforming education in Indian Country, writes Corey Still, a student board member of the National Indian Education Association.
Corey Still, December 3, 2013
5 min read

Vol. 33, Issue 13