In advance of today’s White House Tribal Nation’s Conference, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a town hall event with more than one hundred tribal leaders and representatives from across the country. Among the participants were tribal council representatives, presidents of tribal colleges and universities, and officials from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA).
In the town hall format, Secretary Duncan and members of his senior staff engaged directly with tribal officials on a range of educational issues important to Indian Country.
After brief introductions and an opening prayer, a short video was played in which senior staff talked about the lessons they learned at tribal consultations during the past year – in places like Shawnee, Oklahoma; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; and Window Rock, Arizona. You can watch the video at the bottom of this page.
Secretary Duncan started a dialogue by discussing the Department’s ongoing efforts to improve educational opportunities and outcomes in Indian Country.
Seated in a circle with tribal officials and Department leaders, he spoke candidly about the educational challenges Native American communities face – high dropout rates, low matriculation rates, teacher turnover – and about the Department’s commitment to addressing them in the coming months and years.
Secretary Duncan and his senior staff also highlighted key steps the Department is taking to accelerate educational gains among Indian students – including the launch of a new pilot program that will strengthen the role of tribal education agencies, and the appointment next year of a senior level advisor within the Department who will focus on improving education in Indian Country.
Following the Secretary’s remarks, tribal leaders and several senior staff talked in depth about how the Department can more effectively partner with tribal officials to ensure that all Native American children get the high quality education they deserve.
Click here for an accessible version of the video.