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.
Vol. 33, Issue 13