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New Publication Helps Educate the Public and Preserve Education Resources in Native Communities

WASHINGTON - February 07, 2008 -

Native education can be likened to a bureaucratic labyrinth, a complicated maze education advocates must learn to navigate to help students succeed.  The prizes in the middle of that maze are programs like Head Start, teacher training and grants for language restoration programs.  A new publication is designed to help guide educators, lawmakers and the public through the maze and hopefully avoid hitting brick walls.

Native Education 101: Basic Facts about American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education is the result of a partnership between the National Education Association and the National Indian Education Association.  It gives a glimpse into problems faced by Natives in schools and explains the variety of laws and executive orders.  Educators can use the publication to highlight the needs of the Native community and react accordingly, and Native education advocates can use it to ward off attacks on resources.

“I encourage everyone to embrace the wise words of an Arapaho proverb, ‘If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come,’” said Reg Weaver, NEA president.  “This brochure provides the information and the inspiration for educators, lawmakers and the public to get active in addressing education concerns for Native communities.  This is a shared responsibility, because the bridge to a successful future relies on the foundation we build today.” 

“There seems to be a constant struggle and confusion surrounding which laws help education efforts in Native communities,” said Dr. Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert, NIEA president.  “So the tendency is to try to cut funding out of programs that serve unique needs.  Native Education 101 helps clear up the confusion.  We hope it will not only preserve the resources currently in place, but also result in additional resources coming to communities in need.”

Native Education 101 will be distributed to NIEA members during the group’s Annual Legislative Summit, February 11–13, 2008, in Washington, D.C.   Federal lawmakers and NEA members will receive the brochure as well. 

Native Education 101 is just one of several NEA projects designed to help American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students: 

NEA developed a 12-point plan to reduce high dropout rates.  Only 51 percent of Native American ninth graders graduate on time with their classmates.

NEA’s Minority Community Outreach Department offers teacher resiliency camps that help members understand the cultural backgrounds of students and find better ways to engage them.

Last year, NEA, the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council created a teacher’s guide, DVDs, posters and other materials to help Wisconsin teachers diversify their curriculums to include the history, customs and accomplishments of Native Americans.

To download the brochure:

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact:  Ramona Parks Kirby at (202) 822-7823