President Biden’s decree on Indian education is a big deal


Guest review. Last week was an important one with the first presidential proclamation establishing Indigenous Peoples Day from Monday to October 11, 2021. This news sadly overshadowed another major political announcement by President Biden in the form of an Indian education decree. which is formulated as follows:

It is the policy of my administration to advance equity, excellence and justice in our nation’s education system and to promote tribal self-governance, including by supporting activities that expand educational opportunities and enhance the academic results of all Native American students.

As a politician, I recognize that presidential decrees are big business; not just an expression of values, but in this case a re-commitment to Indian education and a detailed background plan. Key to sustainability is President Biden’s commitment to engage the Indian country like never before through tribal consultations to guide strategic planning and implementation.

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The following illustrates it:

Article 2 (b) The Initiative will consult and collaborate with tribal nations; Native Alaskan Entities; TCU; and state, tribal and local education departments and agencies to advance equity, excellence and economic opportunity in education for Native Americans by focusing on the following policy goals…[click link below]

The placement of this initiative in the US Department of Education is appropriate given that 93 percent of Indian K-12 students attend public schools, while seven percent attend schools funded by the Bureau of Indian. Education and under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior. As such, President Biden has established that the “Education Secretary, Home Secretary, and Labor Secretary will serve as co-chairs” of the White House Initiative to oversee these efforts.

Aaron Payment (Photo / Levi Rickert for Native News Online)

As a member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE), I recognize the respectful commitment to engage in direct consultation with tribes, but also with the consultative input and collaboration of education professionals. Native Americans who serve at NACIE through the following:

[NACIE] serve as an advisory board for the Initiative and report to the Initiative, through and at the request of the Executive Director.

There is a lot of work to be done to improve the Native American high school graduation rate (the worst of all ethnic / racial ethnic groups), improving academic assessment scores, preparation for college. college or vocal training, and increasing entry into higher education as Native American students experienced the largest drop in undergraduate higher education enrollment from 2020 to 2021. With the emphasis on by Home Secretary Deb Haaland on reconciling the former Federal Indian Residential School Assimilation Policy, a further need to infuse age-appropriate and accurate Native American history and contributions into programming, is underlined.

As a 15-year-old high school dropout from a low-income rural reserve slum, who went on to earn a PhD in education, I recognize that no one does it alone and that with the right opportunity anyone can succeed. . I am grateful to President Biden for recognizing tribal nations as having a single constitutional treaty and educational trust obligation, and for making such a clear policy statement in this presidential decree to fulfill that right.

Executive Order on the White House Initiative on Promoting Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunities in Education for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities | The White House

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians President Aaron Payment, a high school dropout at 15, graduated with a GED at 16 and entered college at 17. Payment holds a doctorate in education, a master’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in educational administration and a master’s degree in public administration. He is also sitting secretary of the National Congress of American Indian, president of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes and president of the United Tribes of Michigan.

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