Renewal of Indian Education Policy ‘a step in the right direction’ for Indigenous education


Native American educators praised the Arizona State Board of Education and the Department of Education for renewing the state’s Indian Education Policy final month, a transfer they are saying strikes towards enhancing education for Indigenous college students.

“This is absolutely a step in the right direction,” mentioned Esther Nystrom, vice chairman of the Arizona Indian Education Association (AIEA), a non-profit group made up of educators and neighborhood members that work collectively to enhance the Ok-12 and school education of Indigenous college students in Arizona.

Through this renewal, Nystrom mentioned that it exhibits that the Arizona State Board of Education and Arizona’s Department of Education are prepared to proceed to construct relationships with tribes and leaders in Indian education.

“We want to make sure that we give encouragement and support to our Native American students and with the renewal of the policy it is advocating for Native American people,” she added. “We want people to understand our community and know that we are still here and that we are in the school system.”

The Indian Education Policy was adopted by the Arizona School Board of Education in 1985, then revised and adopted once more in 2002. On Oct. 25, the board renewed the coverage.

“The purpose of this policy is to promote maximum Indian participation and to ensure collaboration in achieving quality education for American Indian people,” the coverage reads. The Arizona State Board of Education acknowledges the worth and significance of Arizona’s American Indian languages, cultures, and histories.”

For Kimberly Daingkau-Begay, president of AIEA, the renewal exhibits that the State Board of Education acknowledges the nation-to-nation relationship Arizona’s 22 tribes have with the state and federal governments. And it offers some weight for Indigenous educators after they wish to deal with their wants or enhancements for Indian education, Daingkau-Begay mentioned. 

“Having this renewed is a fairly strong statement in support of American Indian students and their education,” she mentioned.

“We are still here, we want people to know that we are still making a difference, we are still doing great things in Indian education,” she added. “We have a lot of Native students doing amazing things out there — let us show you what those are, because this is something that we are doing right now as Native American people.”

Nystrom and Daingkau-Begay are additionally half of Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman’s Indian Education Advisory Council at the Arizona Department of Education. It was members of the advisory council who introduced the coverage renewal request to Hoffman, and she or he took it to the Arizona State Board of Education in October.

Implementation of coverage depends on native educators

The Indian Education coverage has been in place since 1985, and in line with the State Board of Education Executive Director Alicia Williams, as soon as a coverage is adopted it doesn’t expire.

“The Board is an entity, made up of individuals, but it is the entity that sets policy,” Williams mentioned. “Members may come and go, may even change/adjust policies, but for the most part, policies remain because the Board, as the entity, approved them.”

So, when the board does renew an older coverage, Williams mentioned it primarily serves to remind folks that it’s there by bringing it to their consideration.

“Renewing a policy allows schools to recall that SBE has the policy ‘on the books’ and allows for schools to remind their governing boards and apply the policy at the local level where it is relevant,” she added. 

Even with the coverage renewal, it is going to nonetheless be as much as native college boards and districts to ensure that education about Indigenous individuals and communities is included in their curriculums.

“The Arizona State Board of Education strongly recommends that Local Education Agencies integrate Arizona American Indian languages, cultures, and histories into all areas of the curriculum to foster appreciation and understanding for all students,” the coverage states.

Hoffman mentioned working with the Office of Indian Education has been a excessive precedence for the Arizona Department of Education since she was elected in 2018. She mentioned she desires to maintain increasing and elevating the work they do. 

When she took workplace, she mentioned the Office of Indian Education was run by one particular person, and it by no means obtained state funding, even after the division added it to its annual finances request. 

It wasn’t till the division obtained COVID-19 restoration funds that it was capable of dedicate $1 million {dollars} to the Office of Indian Education, which allowed 4 extra individuals to be employed. 

“With this bigger team, we’ve been able to do more to serve our tribal nations and really build on those partnerships with the tribal nation’s leaderships,” Hoffman mentioned. 

She mentioned that making this suggestion to the state board was actually vital after the latest experiences and challenges Arizona’s Indigenous communities confronted throughout the pandemic. It helps align the coverage as a precedence by having the board recommit to it, she added. 

“This was just one way they felt like they could elevate and promote the needs of our schools, educators, and students who are part of our Indian education community in Arizona,” Hoffman mentioned. “I feel very proud to be on the board that has unanimously supported this policy. I’m pleased that we were able to pass this with such ease.”