Sequestration Hurts BIE Schools & Students More
Native American students attending Bureau of Indian (BIE) schools on the reservations stand to lose the most from sequestration. BIE schools are starting from a base of lower funding and lower educational outcomes. Sequestration will only add to their hardship of getting an education that helps ensure hope for a different future.
The BIE falls under the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, and BIE schools are notoriously underfunded. One effect of underfunding is that, compared to public schools, BIE schools show significant gaps in educational outcomes for students. The high school graduation rate for BIE students (2008-09) was 52%, compared to a national average of 76%. According to a GAO report, “the BIE’s mission is to provide quality education opportunities to Indian students. Poor student outcomes raise questions about how well BIE is achieving its mission.”
There are 183 BIE schools that serve about 41,000 students in 23 states. Each one of these children will be seriously impacted by sequestration. They represent about 7% of the entire Native student population.
Another barrier for students in BIE schools (and other schools on the reservations) is remoteness and a lack of access to stores that sell school supplies. We know that some children do not register for school because they do not have the supplies needed to begin the year. Some children start school late when it will be less apparent to their classmates that they did not bring the supplies they need with them. School officials have told us that they have parents who pull their children out of one school and register them in another school that is offering supplies to begin the year. We also see that some students leave school when they do not have replacement supplies.
Through our American Indian
Education Foundation (AIEF), a program of National Relief Charities (NRC), we provided school supplies for 28,000 students in 7 priority states throughout our northern Plains and Southwest service area. In 2013, these supplies infused nearly $.5 million worth of support into 88 reservation schools serving Native American students. NRC really believes education is a key to long-term change for Indian country, and we wish to thank all of our AIEF school partners and donors for helping NRC support American Indian education.