The impact of reduced education funding on students was a top concern of attendees of the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education at their July 20 meeting. The group met at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.
Dwight Pickering, director of American Indian Education with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, said the more than 130,000 Native American students enrolled in Oklahoma’s public schools are experiencing the same difficulties as all children in the state.
“In some instances, our tribes across the state are helping those districts that are in their tribal jurisdiction,” said Pickering. “The partnership the tribes have created with the schools is so important.”
One example of tribal support of public schools is the $4.7 million donation the Cherokee Nation made to districts in its jurisdictional area in February. The donation went to 106 districts and originated from tribal car tag fees, 38 percent of which went to education.
Also, the OSDE is providing opportunities for tribes to provide feedback on public education as part of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. Members are encouraged to participate in a survey at http://sde.ok.gov/sde/essa.