Tribal Education Departments National Assembly

Attorney: Matthew L. Campbell

After over 20 years of work, NARF and TEDNA secured the first source of direct federal funding — $ 2 million — for tribal education departments (“TEDs”) in the Labor, Health, and Human Services Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations Bill to be distributed by the U.S. Department of Education via a competitive grant process under a new State Tribal Education Partnerships (“STEP”) Program. The STEP program authorizes eligible TEDs to participate in a pilot project that allows TEDs to operate federal education programs in schools located on Indian reservations. STEP grants were awarded to the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, the Navajo Nation, and the Chickasaw Nation. All of these tribes have been long time members of TEDNA.

Currently, NARF and TEDNA have been working with NCAI and NIEA on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”) amendments to provide for greater tribal self-determination in the area of education. Several bills were recently introduced – The Strengthening America’s Schools Act, S. 1094, and the Student Success Act, H.R. 5, are the primary bills. The Senate bill, S. 1094, included some of Indian Country’s recommendations for ESEA reauthorization, but unfortunately failed to include many important recommendations. H.R. 5 completely re-tools the ESEA and eliminates several Indian education programs. It is not likely that the House and Senate will come together to reauthorize the ESEA, but TEDNA, NCAI, NIEA, and NARF are continuing to work with Congress to incorporate Indian Country’s recommendations into the ESEA reauthorization. If we are unable to get our provisions in the reauthorization, or should the ESEA not pass, TEDNA, NCAI, and NIEA have been working on a stand-alone bill, the Native CLASS Act, to achieve greater tribal self-determination in education. We will work with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to pass the Native CLASS Act as a whole or in piecemeal fashion depending on the political climate.

TEDNA also worked on a Gates Grant with NCAI. TEDNA and NARF’s portion of the grant was to develop a Decision Making Guide that was intended to provide tribes and TEAs with an outline of select K-12 federal programs in which TEAs can potentially participate and thereby provide options for TEAs to enhance their role in Native education. The Guide can be seen on TEDNA’s website, or a copy can be obtained by contacting NARF.

tedna-250pxTEDNA hosted its tenth anniversary forum at NCAI’s annual convention in Tulsa, OK. The forum provided a history of Tribal Education Departments, an update from the recent STEP Program, and highlighted several TEDs. It was a great forum, and we look forward to having additional fora in the future. Finally, TEDNA has revamped its website to provide current and up to date information, news, data, and legal analysis of Native education issues.

Learn more at the TEDNA website>>

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