Boulder, CO – May12, 2010 – The U.S. Congress is preparing to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is the most important federal law that applies to American Indian and Alaska Native tribal students. There are over 650,000 elementary and secondary tribal students nationwide. Over 90% of these students attend state public schools; the others are served primarily by schools funded through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).

The ESEA was first enacted in 1965. In each periodic reauthorization, Congress has attempted to address the needs of tribal students with various supplemental programs, advisory committees, and unfunded options and mandates. Major reports have repeatedly suggested more fundamental changes are needed to improve tribal student opportunities and performance. For over 20 years, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and other experts have urged Congress that the key to tribal student success is to enhance and support the roles of sovereign tribal nations in the ESEA. NARF is anticipating that this Congress, and the current Administration, will finally support such efforts.

On Friday, May 14th at 10:00 a.m. EDT the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will host a briefing on Tribal Education Departments to discuss NARF’s legislative recommendations on behalf of its client, the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA). TEDNA is a membership organization for the Education Departments, Divisions, and Agencies of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes. Over 200 of this country’s over 562 federally recognized tribes have such Departments.

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