“If we give our Native American young people a great education, I’m wildly optimistic about what they can accomplish,” said Secretary Arne Duncan at a public meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) yesterday morning in Washington, DC.
The 15-member council, composed of American Indian and Alaska Native leaders from across the country, advises Secretary Duncan on the funding and administration of ED programs that impact Native American and Alaska Native children and adults. The two-day meeting gave NACIE members a chance to hear from ED staff, prepare their annual report to Congress, and continue developing recommendations for Secretary Duncan.
Opening the morning session, Secretary Duncan thanked the council members for their tremendous service and said that he looked forward to their continued input in the coming months and years.
“I encourage NACIE to be bold in their recommendations to the Department of Education,” said Duncan. “I’m not interested in incremental changes; I’m interested in exponential changes, and if we don’t see improvements in the academic achievement of Native students during my time as Secretary, I will feel personally accountable for that.”
Secretary Duncan sounded a similar message in his remarks last year at a town hall event with tribal leaders, in which he discussed ED’s ongoing efforts to improve educational opportunities in Indian Country. As a Department, that means continuing regular, meaningful consultation with tribal leaders; supporting Indian Education programs in ESEA; allowing more flexible use of Indian Education funds for Native language immersion and restoration programs; and strengthening tribal education agencies.
Rob Friedlander is a confidential assistant in the Department of Education’s Office of the General Counsel