Seek Control of Education
The Navajo Nation is studying a proposal to create
its own board of education, administer its own criterion-referenced
achievement tests and license its own teachers to form an
umbrella over the 120 public, charter and Bureau of Indian
Affairs schools reservationwide.
Navajo Councils Education Committee plans to bring forth
major legislation to the 88-member Navajo Council at its summer
or fall session. If passed it would change the face of education
across the 27,000 square-mile reservation by putting Navajos
in charge of their own childrens education.
would also mark the first significant change to the Navajo
Nation Title 10 Education Code since 1984.
would have educational standards that would be equal or above
the three states, Leland Leonard, new acting director
of the Navajo Nation Division of Diné Education, said
Tuesday. We as a nation have to develop a statelike
legislation would provide one set of standards for Navajo
students who often are shuffled back and forth between state
schools, charter schools and BIA schools, Leonard added.
proposal calls for greater control of the nations 65
charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools spread across
New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Further, the nation would seek
stronger memorandums of agreement with public school districts
covering approximately 55 schools reservationwide.
contracts would be revised to reflect what theyre not
doing, said Mary Helen Creamer, with the Tribal Education
Department in the Division of Diné Education, referring
to the bilingual education issue.
proposal was part of a series of changes to the education
code during a Navajo Council Education Committee public work
session held Monday and Tuesday at the Farmington Civic Center.
of Diné Education officials, Navajo Vice President
Frank Dayish Jr., Navajo school board members, Navajo Head
Start and others attended in addition to committee members
and a packed audience.
is meant to bring all the (educational) systems under the
Navajo Nation, said Navajo Council Delegate Katherine
Benally, a committee member.
are going to be determining testing for our Navajo children.
Although it says this in Title 10 were not exercising
it to its fullest extent. This new legislation will do that,
President Joe Shirley Jr. appointed Leonard as acting Division
of Education director March 1.
think that Title 10 encompasses all schools on the reservation.
Thats our responsibility. Were a sovereign nation,
Navajo Nation needs time to implement benefits of the New
Mexico Indian Education Act passed by the New Mexico Legislature
one year ago, Dayish said, in response to Tuesdays Daily
Times article Navajo Nation ignores act plan
for more bilingual education teachers unheeded.
Navajo Nation was taking action by holding the work session
and proposing legislation to control its educational systems,
Jim Snyder/The Daily Times