State Education Leaders,Tribes Meet To Address Needs Of Native Students

Wednesday, April 5th 2017, 6:10 pm
By: News On 6

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is working with Oklahoma tribal leaders to improve education in the state.

They met Wednesday for a summit to address the needs of Native American students.

With 130,000 Native American students in Oklahoma schools, state educators said it is vital to make sure the school districts and tribal governments are having conversations about the needs of each and every student. 

For the first time in the history of the state, the Oklahoma Department of Education and tribal leaders are meeting to talk about education.

"We know that we are in a state that is in turmoil with education, we hope that we can be a force that can help stabilize it, bring people together and have dialogue like we're doing today so that we can have plans for the future," said Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd. 

The idea came out of a conversation about meeting requirements for the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

Specifically the provision that allows tribes to consult with their local school districts.

"We are ready to roll up our sleeves, listen, ask questions and really hear and act on what we hear as school districts throughout the state," Hofmeister said. 

Floyd said it allows tribes to make sure the schools reflect their history, culture and language in an effort to improve education. 

In a time when education funding in Oklahoma is at an all time low, leaders at the summit want to make sure every school district meeting these requirements get the federal dollars associated with it.

"We are concerned and we hope that turns around," Floyd said. "We can't be at the bottom of funding in the nation and expect high results."

The state Department of Education has come up with a consultation guide that was passed out at the summit, and it includes everything from questions that districts and tribes should be asking each other, as well as what tribes' school districts need to be reaching out to.