Lawmakers consider bills that would address Native American education issuesFort Totten, ND (WDAY TV) - The statistics tell a sad story. Many North Dakota's Native American students are struggling in the education system. Now, North Dakota's top education official is working with lawmakers to make changes.
By: Teri Finneman, WDAY
They're North Dakota's future workers, but their 57 percent high school graduation rates have state and tribal leaders concerned.
TIM MATHERN, D-FARGO: “Social problems on the reservation have a close connection to their education system and so it's important we study the details of what's going on there.”
State lawmakers are considering a few bills to address the problem. One would study Indian education issues to develop criteria for grants to low-performing schools. The other would create a state director of Indian education. The state Department of Public Instruction is pushing for both, saying a large percentage of these students stay in the state after graduation.
WAYNE SANSTEAD, STATE SUPERINTENDENT: “Because we know they're going to stay here and, if we prepare them, they're going to enter the world of work and make a big difference in North Dakota.”
SCOTT DAVIS/INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMISSION: “A better understanding of Indian education is crucial. This study, I hope it would provide some of those best practices but also it would involve family involvement.”
With more than 10,000 Native American students in the state's schools, officials say money spent now will pay off in the future. North Dakota lawmakers will hear testimony tomorrow morning on Senate Bill 21-30 to fund a director of Indian education.