National Indian Education Association
State of Native Education Address
by Vice President Teresa Makuakâne-Drechsel
February 8, 2010

Part 1: State of Native Education Address
Part 2
  NIEA’s Appropriations Priorities For Fiscal Year 2011

Aloha Pumehana Kâkou,

NIEA Board President, Ms. Patricia Whitefoot

On behalf of the Board of Directors for the National Indian Education Association, I welcome you to the 5th State of Native Education Address. My name is Teresa Haunani Makuakâne-Drechsel. I am Native Hawaiian, and have the honor of serving as this year’s Vice-President for the National Indian Education Association. Our Board President, Ms. Patricia Whitefoot, would have given this address, but she has been delayed by the inclement weather.  So  I extend her heartfelt greetings to everyone who is here in Washington, D.C. to attend NIEA’s 13th Annual Legislative Summit
I want to first acknowledge the people who made it possible for us to be here this morning—our NIEA staff—Ashley Martin (Mohawk), Administrative Assistant; Kerry Venegas, High School Policy Coordinator; Michael Woestehoff (Diné), Communications and Membership Coordinator; Wanda Johnson (Diné), Convention and Events Manager; and current Executive Director, Lillian Sparks (Rosebud / Oglala Lakota).
Lillian Sparks
As many of you may know, Ms. Sparks was nominated in October 2009 by President Obama to be Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), and at the end of January 2010 she went before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for her confirmation hearing. We thank Senator Dorgan for his support of Ms. Sparks’ appointment, and we fully expect her to be confirmed soon. While we are sad about her leaving NIEA, Lillian epitomizes all that NIEA stands for—helping Native people to remain grounded in their traditional cultures, values and communities, while furthering their educational and professional opportunities. We honor her for her professional achievements and commitment to Indian Education, and we lift up her parents—Leroy and Georgeline Sparks—for their support of her work with NIEA.

NIEA Interim Director, Dr. Gerald Gipp.

In anticipation of this transition, we have brought on-board Dr. Gerald Gipp as the Interim Executive Director for NIEA. Dr. Gipp officially started in this capacity on February 2, 2010, but he is no stranger to NIEA or to Indian Education. Jerry, as he is affectionately known, is the highly revered Executive Director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, where he led the organization for 8 years. Jerry is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and has extensive background in the field of American Indian education and policy development. We are privileged to have Dr. Gipp undertake this leadership role during a critical time in NIEA’s history.
NIEA was founded in 1970 and is the largest and oldest Native education organization in the U.S., with over 3,000 members. Its mission is to “support traditional Native cultures and values, to enable Native learners to become contributing members of their communities, to promote Native control of educational institutions, and to improve educational opportunities and resources for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians throughout the United States.
 For 40 years, NIEA has strived to meet the mission of our founders by providing advocacy on behalf of its members, ensuring technical assistance services, and collaborating with tribal groups and various education and Native organizations. But despite our efforts, funding for Native education programs during the past decade remained stagnant or was greatly reduced.

Last year, with the historic election of our 44th President, Barack Obama, our hopes and dreams were raised when he vowed to work for ALL Americans. And during his first year as President, he and his Administration made good on his promise by meeting with tribal leaders in early November 2009, and ensuring that his Cabinet-level staff, especially the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Education and their aides, continued to work in tandem with our tribal leaders and Native educators to address the longstanding problems related to Native education.  

Moreover, President Obama’s Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2011, includes specific funding, “[which] give[s] Native American families the tools that they need to succeed.” Although some of the following are not specific to education, they do address the larger issues related to education, health, safety, and governance and include

1.  Continue Efforts to Increase Assess to Health Care for American Indians anad Alaska Natives (AI/ANs)
2) Empower Tribal Nations
3) Expand access to college and boost Native American college completion
4) Combat Crime in Indian Country
5) Support Infrastructure Development for Native Americans
 6) Provide Funds for Cobell Settlement,
7) Support Lending in Low-Income Communities



NIEA’s Appropriations Priorities
For Fiscal Year 2011

Dr. Teresa Makuakane-Drechsel and student volunteers
from the Native American Leadership Program at George Washington University.

5% Increase for Title VII, Native Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - U.S. Dept. of Education - Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill

·         In consideration of the economic downturn and constrained domestic budget, NIEA requests a moderate 5% increase for FY11 over the FY10 enacted level of $194.912 million for a total of $204.65 million for ESEA Title VII funding.  This amount would include providing a 5% increase in funding for the following programs within Title VII:  Indian Education, Alaska Native Education Equity, and Education for Native Hawaiians.  NIEA appreciates that Congress provided an increase in FY10 of $5 million over the FY09 enacted level for Title VII. 

·         NIEA requests that
$2 million of the increase it seeks go toward national research activities (Title VII, Part A, Subpart 3) that would focus on analyzing effective approaches in teaching Native children and on the educational status and needs of Native students.  NIEA requests that another portion of the increase it seeks go toward funding Tribal Education Departments which are authorized under ESEA but have never been funded as well as to teacher in-service and professional development programs contained in the Special Programs section of ESEA.

·         Title VII is severely underfunded.  Title VII provides critical support for culturally based education approaches for Native students and addresses the unique educational and cultural needs of Native students.  It is well-documented that Native students thrive academically in environments that support their cultural identities while introducing different ideas.  Title VII has produced many success stories but increased funding is needed in this area to bridge the achievement gap for Native students.

5% Increase for Impact Aid, Title VIII, ESEA - U.S. Dept. of Education - Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill

           NIEA requests a 5% increase for FY11 over the FY10 enacted level for impact aid.  The FY10 enacted level for impact aid was $1.138 billion.  President Obama’s budget for FY11 requests is level with last year’s amount and does not keep pace with inflation. Further, the FY 2011 budget proposes allocation of $17.509 million for impact aid facilities construction.  The funding proposed for FY11 does not meet the tremendous backlog to build new facilities.  Many public schools on reservations are crumbling and should be replaced.  NIEA urges that the 5% increase be used for facilities construction so that some progress can be made in meeting the mushrooming public school construction needs on reservations.  NIEA appreciates that $100 million was allocated for impact aid facilities construction in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

$10 Million Increase over the FY10 Enacted Level for Native Language Immersion and Restoration grants under the Esther Martinez Native Languages Act - Admin. for Native Americans (ANA), Admin. for Children and Families, U.S. Health and Human Services - Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill]

          NIEA requests a $10 million increase to $59 million for FY11 to ANA to support Native language immersion and restoration programs under the Esther Martinez Native Languages Act.  In FY10, ANA received a $1.750 million increase with the directive that no less than $12 million of the amount provided to ANA should be used for language immersion activities.  NIEA urges the continuation of at least $12 million at ANA for language preservation activities and urges an additional $10 million in FY11 for ANA that would also be used for language preservation activities, resulting in at least $22 million for language preservation at ANA.  NIEA is very appreciative of the Obama Administration’s and Congress’s support for this crucial program.  President Obama’s priorities for Native communities include preservation of Native language programs and specifically support for the Esther Martinez Act.  

         The Esther Martinez Act preserves and fosters fluency in Native American languages through grants to tribes, tribal organizations, schools, and universities to develop and bolster Native language immersion and revitalization programs.  Research shows that Native children who participate in language immersion and revitalization programs perform better academically than their Native peers who do not participate.  Native languages are not spoken anywhere else in the world; and, if they are not preserved, then they will disappear forever.  In Native communities across the country, Native languages are in rapid decline.  It is a race against the clock to save Native languages. 

$263.4 Million for Indian School Construction and Repair - Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Dept. of Interior (DOI) - DOI Appropriations Bill

·         NIEA requests a $150.4 million increase from the FY10 enacted level of $112.994 million for a total of $263.4 million in FY11 to the BIA for Indian school construction and repair.  President Obama requests $52 million for FY11 for BIE school construction and repair.  This amount is simply not enough to address the staggering construction and repair backlog.  Since FY 2005, the funding levels have dramatically decreased for this critical program.  NIEA seeks $263.4 million because this was the funding level in FY 2005, which was instrumental in reducing the construction and repair backlog.  BIA’s budget has historically been inadequate to meet the needs of Native Americans and, consequently, Indian school needs have multiplied.  NIEA appreciates that $277.7 million that was provided to BIE school construction and repair under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

         The Federal government’s responsibility for the education of Indian people is in response to specific treaty rights; and anything less than full funding of Native education programs signifies increased negligence of its trust responsibility.

$ 24 Million for the Johnson O’Malley Program (JOM) - BIA, DOI – DOI Appropriations Bill

·         NIEA requests a total of $24 million for JOM, which was the FY 2006 enacted level.  Over time, funding for JOM has steadily decreased due to the previous Administration’s efforts to eliminate the program.  NIEA seeks full restoration of JOM to at least the FY 2006 enacted level.  The FY10 enacted amount (and the enacted amounts from FY07 through FY09) was $21.4 million, which was only a partial restoration of JOM funding.  President Obama’s FY11 budget requests $21.273 million, a $256,000 decrease from last year’s level.

         JOM grants are the cornerstone for many Indian communities in meeting the unique and specialized educational needs of Native students. Many Indian children live in rural or remote areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment.  JOM helps to level the field by providing Indian students with programs that help them stay in school and attain academic success. 

Even though JOM funding is extremely limited due to BIA budget constraints, it is being used across the country in a variety of basic as well as innovative ways to assist Indian students to achieve academically.  JOM funding is used to provide vital programs designed to build self-esteem, confidence, and cultural awareness so that Indian students can grow up to become productive citizens within their communities.   For example, JOM funds help students achieve and succeed by providing such services as: eyeglasses and contacts, resume counseling, college counseling, culturally based tutoring, summer school, scholastic testing fees, school supplies, transition programs, musical instruments, Native youth leadership programs, student incentive programs, financial aid counseling, fees for athletic equipment and activities, caps and gowns, art and writing competitions, etc.  Other programs administered by the federal government, such as NCLB funding at the Dept. of Education, do not allow funding for these types of activities.  

         Even with the funding requested, $24 million will not keep pace with true needs.  In 1995, a freeze was imposed on JOM funding through DOI, limiting funds to a tribe based upon its population count in 1995.  The freeze prohibits additional tribes from receiving JOM funding and does not recognize increased costs due to inflation and accounting for population growth.  NIEA urges that the JOM funding freeze be lifted and that other formula-driven and head count-based grants be analyzed to ensure that tribes are receiving funding for their student populations at a level that will provide access to a high quality education. 

$10 Million for Tribal Education Departments (TED’s) - BIA, DOI - DOI Appropriations Bill and U.S. Dept. of Education - Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill

·        TED’s are authorized for funding at the BIA (as well as the Dept. of Education under NCLB) but have never been funded.  TEDs develop educational policies and systems for Indian communities that are attuned to the cultural and specialized academic needs of Indian students.  TEDs partner with the federal government and state governments and schools to improve education for tribal students.  $10 million for FY11 with $5 million for BIA and $5 million for DOE for TED’s is a very modest request that would yield positive benefits for Indian students and provide tribes with increased input over the education of their children. 

NIEA is asking for Indian Country’s assistance in increasing funding for Native education programs. Our Native children can achieve academic greatness, if their classrooms and other school facilities are structurally safe and they have textbooks and other basic school supplies that are necessary in thriving learning environments. We, the NIEA membership, are their voices and we are obligated and privileged to provide them with the right tools and skills to ensure a promising educational future.

Again, on behalf of the National Indian Education Association, I thank our membership for their continued advocacy and support of Native learners. And I leave you with this special thought from our Board President, Patricia Whitefoot, “As an educator, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to cultivate our grandparents’ vision for the overall health, well-being and spiritual needs of our children, families and communities.” I know that we can make this vision a reality.

"I mua a loa`a ka lei o ka lanakila. Mahalo nui loa. Thank very much.
(NIEA  Vice President Teresa Makuakâne-Drechsel)

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