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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 23, 2002 - Issue 55


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Begaye's Indian Education Act Passes New Mexico House

Begaye's office provided this article
SANTA FE - The New Mexico House of Representatives voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the "Indian Education Act" sponsored by Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock.

The legislation, House Bill 28, would identify and correct the disadvantages faced by American Indian students in New Mexico's public schools and would ensure maintenance of native languages.

Begaye cited the bill as a landmark piece of legislation that will dramatically change educational opportunities for Native American children, and for present and future teachers and administrators in New Mexico.

"For many years, we have worked to resolve the inequities in Indian education. Today, we were able to reach one of our goals through the passage of this act," Begaye said.

Begaye listed some of the factors in Indian education that affect student performance including poverty, high teacher turnover, low teacher salaries in rural areas, dilapidated school facilities, and shortages of bilingual materials.

"Our students have unique needs that are not being addressed. By all standards, American Indian student performance is unacceptable and the academic effects are getting worse. This bill will target assistance and support of public education to our students," Begaye said.

The Indian Education Act reflects the consensus of the legislature, tribal governments, Indian parents, and educators of American Indian students. It is the product of several meetings between tribal leaders and the New Mexico State Department of Education over the past two years that helped with the formulation of this bill.

The bill includes the most important recommendation that has emerged from the meetings - the quality and training of teachers and principals that serve Indian students. The bill would increase the number of bilingual Indian teachers and principals and would provide continuing professional development for new and existing teachers.

The Indian Education Act would create a Division of Indian Education under the state Department of Education, and directs the State Superintendent to appoint an Assistant Secretary for Indian Education. Under the bill, an advisory council comprised of not more than seven American Indian educators will be appointed to evaluate, consolidate, and coordinate all activities relating to the education of American Indian students.

Begaye would direct $400,000 from within the state Department of Education budget for the implementation of the Indian Education Act. Sen. Leonard Tsosie, D-Crownpoint, included $250,000 of new monies in the General Appropriation Act for a total of $650,000 in recurring dollars for the initiative. The bill will go to the New Mexico Senate for consideration and then to the governor for his signature.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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