Tribal Education Agency Pilot

Thank you for your interest in the grant competition tentatively called the State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) Pilot, the Department’s pilot to provide an opportunity for tribes to meaningfully participate in the education of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children.

In order to run a rigorous competition and obligate funds to grantees before the September 30, 2012 statutory deadline, ED will waive rulemaking for this new program, pursuant to its authority in the General Education Provisions Act.  However, we want your input on how we design the major elements of this program, so we are posting questions (below) regarding the requirements, priorities, and selection criteria for the STEP competition on this Web site and we encourage all interested parties to share their comments with us.  This document will be posted for public input until 5:00 PM EDT on March 9, 2012, at which time the input section will be closed and we will begin considering input received as we develop the requirements, priorities (if any), and selection criteria.  We will publish those requirements, priorities, and selection criteria in a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) in the Federal Register this spring.

This pilot will be a unique opportunity for collaboration between tribal education agencies (TEAs) and States and could be of particular interest to those States who have high concentrations of AI/AN students or tribes.

Through the STEP pilot, we want to support breakthrough work that can dramatically improve educational outcomes for AI/AN children.  The competition will fund the implementation of collaborative agreements, entered into by TEAs and State educational agencies (SEAs) where the TEAs would perform certain State-level functions under State-administered ESEA formula grant programs for schools located on reservations (or former reservations in Oklahoma).  We will be looking to fund applications that demonstrate courage, commitment, capacity, and creativity.  In addition, it is important to note that the Department will not be granting TEAs formula funds, but only funds appropriated for this new competition.

In commenting on these questions, we encourage potential applicants to identify barriers that tribes and SEAs might encounter in entering into TEA-SEA agreements (and to provide suggestions on how those barriers might be surmounted), technical assistance that TEAs may require related to effective administration of ESEA programs, issues on which collaboration with affected LEAs may be required, and any relevant resource allocation issues.

We are posting this document on a moderated site.  That means all posts will be reviewed before they are posted.  We intend to post all responsive submissions on a timely basis. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate.  Please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements, as we will delete them before we post your comments. Additionally, to protect your privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses in the body of your comments. For more information, please be sure to read the “comments policy.”

We invite your input on the questions provided below, and on any other issues that you believe the Department should consider in preparing the NIA.  Please understand that posts must be related to the STEP competition and should be as specific as possible.  Each post should limited to 1,000 words.  All opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments are considered informal input and ED will not respond to any posts.  If you include a link to additional information in your post, we urge you to ensure that the linked information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.  We look forward to receiving your ideas and suggestions.  However, the input you provide in these posts might or might not be reflected in the final STEP requirements, priorities, or selection criteria or in the other policies that are enunciated in the final STEP NIA.

Again, thank you for your interest in this historic opportunity to support Native American education. We look forward to hearing from you.

Click the links below to read the questions regarding requirements, priorities, and selection criteria; then click “Add a New Comment” at the bottom of the screen to tell us what you think about that item.

  1. What are some of the TEA/SEA concerns that should be addressed when the two agencies enter into an agreement under which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions?  How could these concerns be addressed?  More specifically, will SEAs need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs?
  2. What technical assistance would a TEA need in order to perform certain SEA-level functions for State-administered ESEA programs?  How could this technical assistance be best provided?
  3. What role, if any, should LEAs have in demonstrating support for the TEA-SEA agreements that affect their schools (through activities such as writing letters of support)?  When should LEA support be demonstrated – as part of the application or during the project period?
  4. What LEA concerns should be addressed in an agreement in which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions?  How could these concerns be addressed?
  5. Do you know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs to administer SEA-level functions?  What activities were performed by the TEA?  Was the TEA successful in administering these functions?
Update: The comment period has been extended until March 9, 2012.

44 Comments

  1. Whatever the final outcome of the comments, I encourage the over arching themes to address the following items, perhaps a community based participatory project, so we can learn from the project(s) funded:

    1. Confront the critical issues of over-representation of Native children in Special Education (commonly labeled “emotinally behaviorally disturbed” or “oppositionally defiant”).
    2. Need for funding for curriculum revisions designed to reflect specific historical inlcusion.
    3. Fund culturally responsive academic support and after school programs.
    4. Direct funding toward community-based retention – development and sustainability.

  2. Responding for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Education Agency. The TEA is the SEA and any and all resources should be allocated to the TEA. SEA’s TA should give TEA’s any and all pertinent training and data required to fully give proper jurisdiction to TEA’s. The LEA through school board/stakeholders resolution to support TEA through the App Process. The LEA would be a part of the TEA’s TA. TEA has an established MOU with SEA to obtain education data and to distribute data to citizens of RSt and sharing data between the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the state. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Education Agency monitors Title 7 funds for a bordertown public school since 2007.

  3. The eligibility for the STEP Program should include Tribal Organizations such as non-profit Tribal Consortiums that provide education and social services to the Alaska Native and American Indian population through a variety of state, federal and private funding. Limiting the STEP pilot eligibility to Tribes on tribally owned land excludes most Tribes in Alaska.

    Funding for the program should not be funnelled through the state. The added level of government limits the tribes by state laws that are sometimes contrary to Tribal law. Any program that wants to succeed at better serving AI/AN students needs to give the Tribes latitude on designing their program to meet their needs.

  4. It is important to consider the tri-lateral relationship between tribes, the federal government, and state governments in regard to the education of tribal citizens and non-tribal citizens. The tri-lateral responsibility for American Indian education is shared between these three levels of government. First and foremost, tribes have inherent aboriginal rights to govern over the education of their citizens. But they also have a stake in the education of non-tribal citizens about tribal issues. The federal government acknowledges that tribes have inherent rights to govern over tribal education, and is also supposed to act as a protectoriate of those rights. The federal government is also obligated to the fulfillment of a broad range of treaty provisions for education, including provisions of tribal control. Due to the ever increasing presence of tribal students in state run public schools, state governments have become a major player in American Indian education. I propose a Tri-Lateral Assembly composed of tribal, federal, and state representatives to think about these relationships at various levels, and to develop roadmaps on how to best approach the future of American Indian education in the US. This type of approach meets the different sovereign entities where they are at and assumes that each will play a vital role in how we move forward.

  5. This should be an open process allowing Tribes to assume more areas of responsibility as their capacity grows. Perhaps all of the SEA services for Native American students could be identified and Tribes could negotiate for those along the lines of the self-governance compact process. Funding should come directly to Tribes, not through the states.

    What areas would have to be addressed by an MOA with the state (such as curriculum and student data tracking) and what areas can be addressed in an MOA with an LEA (such as truancy, dropout prevention and other programs)? These distinctions will need to be addressed.

    The federal government should show support for this pilot project by requiring involved SEAs to: (1) work in a collaborative spirit to make this project a successful venture and require the same from LEAs; (2) accept and implement tribal language and culture curriculum and assist Tribes with the development of appropriate materials; (3) ensure that federal funds are strictly used for their intended purposes and that transparency is provided at all levels; and (4) identify and eliminate all barriers to the successful implementation of this project.

    Technical assistance should be provided to the Tribes at no cost. Perhaps an information clearinghouse could be established for sharing best practices, sample MOAs, etc.

    Tribes and SEAs, for the purposes of this pilot project, should be regarded as equals. Tribes should not report to the states. Both entities should report to the federal government either as individual entities or in a joint reporting format.

    Tribes should have the flexibility to work with the LEAs to develop programs to address local needs, instead of a “one size fits all” approach.

    The pilot program needs to emphasize that the intention is to develop a collaborative effort to improve the educational experience and results for Native American students. A quality-infused and well-rounded education results in a successful student: a win-win situation for everyone involved.

  6. This is premature and needs more thought and planning. Public schools on reservations are already governed by Indian school boards. They are dedicated individuals who serve on a volunteer basis, no personal gain, just a passion to see their children succeed. Most of the teachers are Native and have the best interest of the children at heart. Every reservation public school I know has a department for cultural education that assure the tribal culture is taught and integrated into the the curriculum. What problem are we trying to solve with more laws? Why add another level of bureaucracy. Educators are already overwhelmed with reports, standards, accountability, etc. from the federal government and the State. Another layer could be the last straw.

    Many reservations do not have Tribal education departments in place, they take huge administrative costs from federal grants. Public Schools cannot afford this. It just takes from direct services to children. This would be a step backward.

    Please think this through from the perspective of services to students.

  7. 4. What LEA concerns should be addressed in an agreement in which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed?

    One of the main concerns of an LEA should be ensuring there is a clearly defined role as to how a TEA should be involved in getting federal Title funds to the LEA once all requirements are met. One advantage of local control of funds by a TEA should be the shorter time in which an LEA would receive federal title funds. There should not be any decrease in the amount or quality of services/assistance a TEA should be able to provide to an LEA by participating in the STEP program. One advantage of a local TEA would be that the LEA would be the only entity the TEA will be assisting. The pilot would create a local “SEA” like organization via the TEA which should be an advantage for a LEA.

  8. 1. What are some of the TEA/SEA concerns that should be addressed when the two agencies enter into an agreement under which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed? More specifically, will SEAs need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs?

    Answers to this question will certainly change in the future as this pilot is awarded to tribes and they gain the experience of performing SEA functions. Certainly, all parties need to start with the success of students as the top priority and then agree that all parties (SEAs, LEAs and TEAs) are equal partners in make this pilot successful. SEAs need be convinced that the Pilot Program is a benefit which can help SEAs achieve their goals. SEAs need to work with TEAs in order to make LEAs successful in meeting the requirements and goals of a particular federal Title program. LEAs need to accept the advantages the TEAs have to offer especially being a local resource. LEAs need to know how a TEA can be an effective and creative resource in assisting the LEA with meeting the requirements of a particular Title Program. SEAs need to understand how their tribes operate. SEAs and LEAs should feel confident in a tribes ability and capacity to make this Pilot a success.

    2. What technical assistance would a TEA need in order to perform certain SEA-level functions for State-administered ESEA programs? How could this technical assistance be best provided?

    Technical assistance should start with understanding how each of the entities; SEAs, TEAs, and LEAs, function in their roles as well as determining each entities’ capacities and resources. Technical assistance should come from comprehensive centers and TEDNA (Tribal Education Departments National Assembly) directly to SEAs, LEAs and TEAs. The tribes who are awarded a Pilot grant should have TA monies as a line item in their grant budget.

  9. The TEA program should be expanded to include the definition of Tribe as articulated in PL 93-638 (25.U.S.C. Sec.450b), the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. The definition used in the TEA pilot does not accommodate the complexity of the unique situation in Alaska, where Tribal Organizations are major provider of education and social services to the Alaska Native and American Indian population through the Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act. Limiting the TEA pilot to BIE, Impact Aid and tribally owned land would preclude Alaska from participating.

  10. Protections must be put in place to assure that funding for Native students is not placed in the school district’s general fund where it can be used for whatever the school district chooses. TEAs, SEAs, and a parent committee should share authority and oversite regarding how the funding is spent and there should be some type of legal protection should a school district (or the TEA) attempt to misuse the funding.
    TEAs must be given access to necessary data and be given the authority to assist in the development and implimentation of the programs and services offered to Native students attending the the LEA. Perhaps the LEA and TEA could each appoint a “specialist” to work together in developing the program.
    I think Native students would be served better if the LEA and the TEA each had designated teachers/administrators to plan and oversee the development of the educational programs as well as a parent committee to oversee the funding and development of the programs. Having a parent committee with authority is essential to ensure that funding is not misused and that the Native community/stakeholders agree with what programs are put in place. LEAs should be required to sign an agreement to follow assurances that funding will be used to address the unique educational needs of Native students. LEAs should have some voice in the development of the educational program. I think that the LEA and the TEA should each be required to have “specialist” working together to develop and monitor the program.

  11. Tribal Governments need to support and have a TEA’s in place to be considered for the grant.
    TEA’s seeking the grant should already have some sort of MOU or MOA in the works with their SEA or LEA. It is important to start looking at the next step of implemantation within our public schools.
    Put a cap on the adminstration fees, so funds go to direct services impacting our Native children.
    If public schools are not adjacent to a tribe, TEA’s need to have a plan to coordinate with LEA’s that service their tribally enrolled students in the Urban settings.
    Be aware that all title programs have different eligiblity requirements and understand the how these funds are to be utilized for our Native Students.
    Do a study of TEA’s that already have programs in place with SEA’s and LEA’s and share those practices with newly formed TEA’s.
    Make sure funding is being used to educate our students at the highest level of accountablilty.
    Mandate all TEA’s and especially TEA’s that are awarded the grant to attend the USDOE Federal Technical Assistance Workshop Day in 2012 day before NIEA. Good information is shared on implementation and what each Title program covers and who are eligilbe to recieve funds.

  12. Tribal sovereignty is of utmost importance. Too many times States do not understand the relationship that Tribes have with the Federal Government. By contracting with State Education Departments to re-route Federal monies, we are in no way giving up any portion of our Sovereignty. The focus must be on what is best of students. The funding for Title programs really should come through direct meaningful relations between US DOE and the individual tribes without the State acting as the middle man. We employ reliable fiscal controls and are more than capable of managing the funding without State interactions.

    New York State has 13 contracts with school districts to cover tuition for Native American students attending various school districts.

  13. STATE – TRIBAL EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP PILOT PROGRAM
    1. There needs to be a review of state education laws, budget authority and legislation to assure they are compatible with tribal education ordinances and resolutions so all legal responsibilities and authorities are addressed in all Memorandums of Agreements.

    2. There has to an agreement of which court system will disputes, issues and violations be heard. Jurisdiction must be a consideration in all Memorandum of Agreements because currently state law does not apply and is not enforceable on tribal reservation lands, and tribal laws are not enforceable on state owned lands and facilities.

    3. There has to be authority and a process for tribes to create a tax base for long term sustainability for continued education funding. This Partnership Pilot Program will have to come to an agreement that one sovereign nation (the State Legislatures) willingness to provide budget authority and appropriations for education from its taxpayers to be administered by another sovereign nation (tribal government) within the same exterior boundaries of the state. Some members of the Indian Nation living within its exterior boundaries may not pay taxes into the State Government which could be a discussion point in negotiations.

  14. 1. Utilize a portion of this funding to include support for study and research for the Process in building state-Tribal relationships in providing K-12 education. This project could all benefit from looking for best practices that are currently in place in the United States between State Departments of Education and Tribal Governments in their respective States that are producing good educational results for Indian students. It could lead to a analysis of steps that need to be taken by both States, Tribes and Department of Education to build this program in the future. NACIE would be a good resource for assisting on developing this study/research.
    2. The implementation of a state tribal partnership needs to include a particular tribe’s student members who are enrolled in schools in our urban communities whether they be in cities in the tribe’s respective state or in urban schools out of state. These students are not receiving equitable services as their tribal peers are in reservation based public schools. The responsibility for these students who are still tribal members, but may attend school elsewhere should still be a part of a Tribe’s educational plan as a TEA.
    3. The plan needs to address the relationships that will be developed between the state and tribe in how to provide services to students in the schools who may be non-tribal members (Other Indians, descendants, and non-Indian) if a tribe assumes management of various federal programs that all students might be eligible for such as Title I or Impact Aid.
    4. Public School funding in our state is complex consisting of state, federal and local resources (County) – most based on a system of taxation. I believe the funding by tribal governments of public schools on their respective reservations with tribal revenues is limited or not available. If a Tribe becomes a TEA and takes over management of a public school or even portions of a public school’s services, what type of resources will the tribe bring to the table to provide a sustained funding system for that school as the continued funding with state resources or local county resources may not be accessible.
    5. There are current systems of tribal control of education that is a goal of this TEA Project. There are tribally contracted schools and there are public schools with all Indian school Boards that manage the hiring, curriculum, budgeting and operations of public schools. These need to be researched to see if these are working successfully and if these could serve as models. And, if they are not working, why?
    6. The indirect cost rates for federal programs that tribes desire to manage as a TEA need to be capped at the same level as currently exists for the SEA to insure that direct services to students are not reduced due a high administrative costs.
    7. The current Impact Aid Program that allows for Indian Policies and Procedures to be written by the LEA and approved by the Tribal Government is a good model to study to see how effective it has been in creating a positive working relationship between LEA’s and their respective tribal communities/tribal governments. It is one of the strongest laws that allow for direct Tribal involvement in the LEA.

  15. SEAs are all busy and pre-occupied with demands and concerns other than STEP. Would the ED be prepared to identify SEA’s that are highly likely to be actively interested in partnering with TEAs in the STEP program? What might the ED do to provide one or more incentives sufficiently compelling to assure proactive SEA participation?

  16. When we are given this opportunity to take control of our role as TEA’s it will be an enormous undertaken for some. As someone mentioned we know best the needs of our communites and if afforded the opportunity and funds we would have educational programs that can a total wrap around and include language and culture to address self identity and pride in who we are as native people.
    Making those statements now asks the question if we do take over the responsibilities, how soon into the future will the federal government wash its hands from the trust reponsibility it has for us/our people. What will the future entail? If we are not successful in their view. Will they give the funds out by earmarking to non-natives as is happening in NM. Because politics played a part and will continue to.

    There are tribes who do not have the funds and capacity to do this work. How will these effect those tribes? If we are to work with the SEA/LEA any agreement that is developed should not have the word ADVISOR on behalf of the tribe. That word defeats all work we do as TEAs and the SEA/LEA continue to operate their way.

  17. The State would be concerned regarding their responsibility under the State Constitution to provide services to Indian Tribes. Would they be relieved of this obligatiion should a TEA be allowed to serve in the place of an SEA. Are there any laws of the State that have to be ammended to allow TEA’s. Will the SEA’s still be obligated to provide State funding to TEA’s as part of the match for some of the Federal Education programs. The SEA’s should still provide funding for Indian students, much like they do for State Welfare programs, or TANF. 2. There should be a mechanism in the law for TEAs to receive technical assistance from SEA’s that receive funding for this service. This would be the most economical way for receiving staff and administrator training. 3. It the intent for the TEA project is to give them independence from the LEA, then they should have no role, but TEAs should be given the freedom to contract with LEAs for educational services if they choose to do so. 4. I would use the experience of allowing the implementation of Tribal TANF in California as a guide for allowing TEAs. 5. No, I don’t know of any formal agreements by the SEA to allow TEAs to function in their capacity.

  18. Tribal lands haver been successfully governed by their own tribes for years. They have been granted this right and they have shown time and time again they know best what needs to be done.
    Unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to education. State governments do not always take into acount the needs and concerns of local native lands. Truly education should be at the forefront. Education is the key to success. At present, Native communities feel a lot of mistrust towards the education process. They are not given adequate voice or respect. They are not equal partners in derermining policy and curriculum for their communities. The local Native community understands their needs and is in a position to improve the education process. They need to be given a chance to become involved and granted partnership with local school districts.

  19. Which Tribes should be awarded the grant to be a Pilot for State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP)?

    1. Federally recognized Tribes.
    2. Tribes that participate in Government to Government collaboration with their State Education Department.
    3. Tribes that clearly demonstrate support provided to Tribes’ Department of Education.
    4. Tribes that have ongoing collaboration with the outlying school districts where AI/AN are enrolled facilitated by MOUs or MOAs.
    5. Tribes that have demonstrated successful implementation of projects funded by grants from USDE and other granting agencies.
    6. Tribes with Education Departments that are supported by tribal committees made up of tribal members. e.g., Education and Training Committee.
    7. Tribes that have been accorded the status of LEA with regard to the implementation of Indian Education Formula Grant EASIE Title VII and have been successfull in its administration of the functions of LEA in implementing the Title VII project in the outlying school districts where AI/NA students are enrolled.

    1. What are some of the TEA/SEA concerns that should be addressed when the two agencies enter into an agreement under which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed? More specifically, will SEAs need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs?
    Some concerns:
    Identification of AI/AN to be served by either, both or all programs, e.g.-
    Student Eligibility for Program Service
    Title I Title III Title VII
    AI/AN-1 X
    AI/AN-2 X X
    AI/AN-3 X X X
    AI/AN-4 X X
    How would Programs collaborate to maximize quality of services that will be delivered to AI/AN students?

    How do funds from IMPACT Aid translate to improved student achievement of the AI/AN?

    SEAs may need other resources if they do not currently have an Indian Education Coordinator in their states’ Department of Education. Having a full time Indian Education Coordinator in the state’s Department of Education will be crucial to the success of the Tribes that will be awarded the STEP, Pilot program grant.

    Implementation of integrating Native American Curriculum into the mainstream curriculum structure of the school district.
    2. What technical assistance would a TEA need in order to perform certain SEA-level functions for State-administered ESEA programs? How could this technical assistance be best provided?

    TEAs be made eligible, just as LEAs are, to compete for grants requiring applicants to be an LEA.

    Collaboration that acknowledges that TEA is in equal status with LEA and SEA in accessing the records of AI/AN students (FERPA,Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 [20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g].

    3. What role, if any, should LEAs have in demonstrating support for the TEA-SEA agreements that affect their schools (through activities such as writing letters of support)? When should LEA support be demonstrated as part of the application or during the project period?

    Tribes should have on file letters of support to have access to the records from the outlying school districts where AI/AN students are enrolled.

    Tribes should have MOUs with the outlying school districts where our AI/AN students are enrolled.

    4. What LEA concerns should be addressed in an agreement in which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed?

    Would the TEAs exclude AI/AN who are not enrolled members of the TEA applying for the grant?

    5. Do you know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs to administer SEA-level functions? What activities were performed by the TEA? Was the TEA successful in administering these functions?

    No, we do not know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs.

    However, there are Tribes that have been accorded the status of LEA with regard to the implementation of Indian Education Formula Grant EASIE Title VII. Some of these Tribes have been successfull in administering the functions of LEA in implementing the Title VII project in the outlying school districts where AI/NA students are enrolled.

    Which Tribes should be awarded the grant to be a Pilot for State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP)?

    1. Federally recognized Tribes.
    2. Tribes that participate in Government to Government collaboration with their State Education Department.
    3. Tribes that clearly demonstrate support provided to Tribes’ Department of Education.
    4. Tribes that have ongoing collaboration with the outlying school districts where AI/AN are enrolled facilitated by MOUs or MOAs.
    5. Tribes that have demonstrated successful implementation of projects funded by grants from USDE and other granting agencies.
    6. Tribes with Education Departments that are supported by tribal committees made up of tribal members. e.g., Education and Training Committee.

    1. What are some of the TEA/SEA concerns that should be addressed when the two agencies enter into an agreement under which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed? More specifically, will SEAs need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs?
    Some concerns:
    Identification of AI/AN to be served by either, both or all programs, e.g.-
    Student Eligibility for Program Service
    Title I Title III Title VII
    AI/AN-1 X
    AI/AN-2 X X
    AI/AN-3 X X X
    AI/AN-4 X X
    How would Programs collaborate to maximize quality of services that will be delivered to AI/AN students?
    How does funds from IMPACT Aid translate to improved student achievement of the AI/AN?
    Implementation of integrating Native American Curriculum into the mainstream curriculum structure of the school district.
    2. What technical assistance would a TEA need in order to perform certain SEA-level functions for State-administered ESEA programs? How could this technical assistance be best provided?

    TEAs be made eligible, just as LEAs are, to compete for grants requiring applicants to be an LEA.

    Collaboration that acknowledges that TEA is in equal status with LEA and SEA in accessing the records of AI/AN students (FERPA,Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 [20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g].

    3. What role, if any, should LEAs have in demonstrating support for the TEA-SEA agreements that affect their schools (through activities such as writing letters of support)? When should LEA support be demonstrated as part of the application or during the project period?
    Tribes should have on file letters of support from the outlying school districts where our AI/AN students are enrolled to become an LEA.
    Tribes should have MOUs with the outlying school districts where our AI/AN students are enrolled.
    4. What LEA concerns should be addressed in an agreement in which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed?
    Would the TEA exclude AI/AN who are not enrolled members of the TEA applying for the grant?
    5. Do you know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs to administer SEA-level functions? What activities were performed by the TEA? Was the TEA successful in administering these functions?
    No, we do not know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs.
    However, there are Tribes that have been accorded the status of LEA with regard to the implementation of Indian Education Formula Grant EASIE Title VII. Some of these Tribes have been successfully administering the functions of LEA in implementing the Title VII project in the outlying school districts where AI/NA students are enrolled.

  20. 1. First, in order to establish a meaningful partnership between TEA’s and SEA’s, there needs to be an environment upon which a meaningful partnership can be built upon. The pilot and the students it could impact will greatly benefit from a full partnership between the TEA’s and SEA’s. The approach the US DoE takes in establishing the parameters of this equal partnership will be a vital component to the overall success of this pilot. SEA’s and TEA’s would benefit from a clear structure wherein they are treated as equals. This would create an environment wherein the two stakeholders could truly come together and work together for the betterment of the students.

    It is important for LEA’s to understand the positive benefits that TEA’s could offer.
    The TEA’s are best positioned to understand the needs of the communities they serve and work with the LEA’s in a way that the SEA’s can’t or don’t understand. TEA’s could also potentially leverage resources and provide more opportunities for collaboration for the LEA’s. Additionally, the TEA’s could provide assistance to bring expertise in Native languages and cultural curriculum, and teacher training in these areas that the states don’t generally provide.

  21. I appreciate the opportunity to comment on such an important issue. As others have stated, the disparity of AI/AN dropout rates, academic performance, and assessment results are evidence of the need to afford TEA’s the opportunity to operate on a government to government basis. TEA’s are in a better position to understand and respond to the needs of its people, provide training, assistance, and accountability to the local school districts. Through the proposed collaboration, educational outcomes for AI/AN students can be dramatically improved. National standards, policies and curricula can be refined to incorporate culturally appropriate teaching practices and evaluation methods.

  22. 1. What are some of the TEA/SEA concerns that should be addressed when the two agencies enter into an agreement under which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed? More specifically, will SEAs need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs?
    A formal reciprocal transfer of knowledge between the TEA and the SEA is necessary. This transfer of knowledge would establish a forum for the identification of all the current SEA services utilized on the behalf of the proposed TEA schools. The additional resources would be required to accomplish the transfer of knowledge in an effective manner.

    2. What technical assistance would a TEA need in order to perform certain SEA-level functions for State-administered ESEA programs? How could this technical assistance be best provided?
    An ombudsman position to oversee the first few years of the pilot project: 1) to identify emerging issues , and 2) would then determine what technical assistance is required for success of the project.

    3. What role, if any, should LEAs have in demonstrating support for the TEA-SEA agreements that affect their schools (through activities such as writing letters of support)? When should LEA support be demonstrated – as part of the application or during the project period?

    I am assuming that the LEA is the deliverer of actual educational services to schools on the reservation that will be in the proposed TEA. In this regard, the support for the project should be demonstrated in both the actual application and during the project period. A demonstrated buy-in of all stakeholders is essential for success. Less than that would be difficult situation for a new TEA.

    4. What LEA concerns should be addressed in an agreement in which a TEA would perform SEA-level functions? How could these concerns be addressed?
    All roles and responsibilities currently in place and working should be addressed in the memorandum of agreement. As mentioned above, an ombudsman should be put into place to ensure success. Timelines for the transfer of knowledge and assignment of specific duties of the LEA, SEA and TEA should be addressed.

    5. Do you know of existing formal or previous agreements between SEAs and TEAs to administer SEA-level functions? What activities were performed by the TEA? Was the TEA successful in administering these functions?
    This Tribal Education Department has a Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program, a grant program administrated by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, from within the Offices of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services of the US Department of Education. Our program has established a Memorandum of Agreement between which outlines our intentions to work together, including the roles and expectations of each entity. The authority for the establishment of American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services projects are outlined in the 34CFR 371. This model is in place.

  23. The Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act notwithstanding, many California public school administrators (at the LEA level)—even those operating reservation-based schools with American Indian/Alaska Native enrollments exceeding 80% of the total—continue to regard Tribal Governments and Tribal Education Departments as something more akin to “special interest groups” than government-to-government partners in education (perhaps the most critical facet of Indian self-determination). Of course we are “given an audience” (or many audiences) in Board meetings, public forums, site council meetings, and a myriad of “advisory” groups, all of which fall short of constituting any legitimate authority to influence “internal” public school operations, such as curriculum and textbook selection; instructional methods; teacher selection and professional development opportunities; financial accountability, facilities development, technology and other equipment acquisitions; transportation; or even the selection of foods expected to nourish our children throughout the day. Moreover, when we clamor for greater influence—legitimate authoritative influence—we inevitably are told that LEAs must do what the State mandates; i.e., States trump Tribes. Thus it is my belief (hope) that the proposed State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) Pilot project really will provide an opportunity for Tribes to participate meaningfully in the education of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. If/when SEAs delegate or otherwise share specific roles and responsibilities (read here powers and authorities) to TEAs based on their demonstrated capacities to perform them satisfactorily, more credible two-, three-, and four-way partnerships with LEAs will emerge.
    There is no shortage of good ideas among Tribal Nations about how to improve educational outcomes for American Indian/Alaska Native children and youths. And while we surely could use (and keep very busy) more professional Tribal educators than we currently have, we already have sufficient numbers of enormously capable Tribal people and departments to contribute as full partners in public school education. It is my hope that SEAs will work with TEAs to examine the current challenges and each agency’s respective capacity to address those challenges—on a case-by-case, LEA-by-LEA basis, so that the STEPs are designed to work synergistically toward improved outcomes and assume joint responsibility for their effectiveness in achieving them. Since SEAs have many years’ experience, I trust they will provide capacity-building opportunities for designated TEAs and act in good faith to implement the new partnerships. Many skeptics doubted the wisdom of Public Law 93-638, in particular the amendments that afforded Tribes the opportunity to negotiate Annual Funding Agreements (“compacts”). Two decades later, however, we have come a long way from the first dozen “demonstration” Tribes to the few hundred or more Self-Governance Tribes. As desirable and important as this shift in power and responsibility has been, it has not been easy—we continue to build our capacity and tenacity every day. Still, I have never met a Tribal member who wanted to go back to the “good old days” of federal paternalism. I suspect the STEP experience will be similar, except that our 20 years’ experience as Self-Governance Tribes will shorten the learning curve significantly.

  24. Tribes have been pushing forward for years with the resources they do have in order for their children to receive a decent education. Many Native children come from reservations that are riddled with crime, drugs, alcoholism, and unemployment; a good, positive education system can open many doors for these children.

    Our tribes need to be involved because they know the troubles of the Native people and they understand the cultural aspect of how to best teach our own children.

  25. Question 1. TEA/SEA CONCERNS. The TEA/SEA concerns are shared in areas that include: academic achievement gaps; school attendance and truancy mechanisms; Indian student tracking methods; professional assistance to consolidate multiple public schools into one district; an administrators association among the schools serving the Indian children on the reservation; writing and implementation of a curriculum on the tribal culture, history and literature at all levels and subjects; a reservation-wide professional development system for highly qualified teachers of math, science, reading and writing; the creation of a tribal languages curriculum for middle and high schools; instructor development and start-up costs for new vocational areas of study with dual credit and dual enrollment options; board, family and community members educational strategic planning for a tribal generation; Impact Aid resources management to meet unique educational needs of Indian students; creation of vocational and college readiness pathways in tandem with HS graduation requirements; identify Head Start school readiness curriculum; create health and wellness approaches to combat Indian student overweight-ness and obesity.
    Question 2. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE NEEDS. Technical assistance needs are in state data and record keeping systems utilization, for tribal child tracking projects; training in the analysis and use of academic achievement test scores; analysis of course-taking patterns for college and highly technical fields readiness; expertise in grade levelling of tribal culture and history curriculum; and the identification of accelerated academic learning curriculum.
    Question 3. LEA DEMONSTRATION OF SUPPORT. The LEA areas of highest need and interest are critical drivers for the TEA/SEA functions. Without the LEA designation of need and interest, cooperation may not occur. The LEA letters of support should accompany the STEP proposals.
    Question 4. LEA CONCERNS to BE ADDRESSED IN AGREEMENT. The LEA areas of need and interest are indicated in current relationships with the TEA and SEA:
    A. Academic achievement gaps and identification of best practices—-two schools are utilizing a math approach invented in New Zealand with impressive success; the largest LEA is benefiting from curriculum mapping among and between schools
    B. School attendance and truancy mechanisms for improved student attendance and decreased truancy levels—-TEA/SEA assistance could formulate an MOA template for cooperation with City and Tribal Courts with the four school districts
    C. Indian child tracking technology to monitor student locations, attendance and education progress—- the SEA has a student tracking ID number, that if provided to the TEA could provide accurate and efficient monitoring of tribal children in all schools.
    D. Equalize resources supporting the LEA’s—-serious disparities exist among the school districts per pupil allocations, even with state equalization funds; school consolidation among the four school districts into one county school district will require SEA expertise in school law and the TEA relationships with the LEA’s and the broader tribal community.
    E. A schools network of administrators and counselors—-to address student swirling among districts, dropout prevention, duplicative transportation services, curriculum sharing and a tribal/national vision for the tribal educational future. The TEA/SEA partnership could encourage the work of schools on the issue areas, and provide incentives identify and implement mutually beneficial approaches
    F. The LEA’s instruct on the state’s Tribes at all grade levels in all subjects—-however the tribal curriculum project fell short of providing lesson plans for the four school districts for all grade levels;—-the TEA/SEA partnership could provide a platform for curriculum sharing among schools to benefit a broader distribution of existing tribal studies materials and resources and promote future collaborations.
    G. The LEA’s have expressed high interest in vocational training that reflects the “on the horizon” economic developments of the tribe (in energy development, natural resources management, oil/gas/methane development, water management). The TEA/SEA partnership could support faculty development and startup costs for the vocational training programs, and further, the provide formative advice on dual credit/dual enrollment arrangement with the tribal college’s participation. This would be like the Perkin’s capacity building funds.
    H. The LEA’s have strategic planning, but are isolated, disconnected from the nation’s tribal planning; these could be compared and woven together for a nation building – tribal education plan for the next generation. The TEA/SEA partnership could provide leadership and a forum for reservation –wide discussions and planning for the educational future of the tribe.
    I. LEA’s utilize Impact Aid funds for the general benefit of their schools. Yet, the academic achievement of students is languishing well below the state CRT rates of proficient and advanced, and as well, the graduation rates are seriously below the state rates. The TEA/SEA partnership could provide analysis of funds and resource utilization for highest impact on areas of need, thus making the Impact Aid funds clearly of education benefit to Indian students.
    J. LEA’s independently establish high school graduation requirements for their schools, meeting close to the minimum state designated standards. These requirements differ from the state college preparatory and rigorous core requirements. A majority of high school graduates fall far short of these pathways to college. Now, many highly technical vocational fields require similar readiness pathways. The SEA/TEA partnership could perform course taking studies of the past five years of graduates to identify course taking patterns, and build a college readiness pathway for Indian students. Most reservation schools have signed a “graduation matters” MOA with the SEA to make college readiness and graduation pathways better delineated to students and parents.
    K. LEA’s have physical education and broad sports programs offerings. However, overweightness and obesity rates are steadily increasing among the Indian students in middle and high schools. The TEA/SEA could provide best practices professional development for schools to benefit the health of the Indian students.
    Question 5. EXISTING FORMAL AGREEMENTS. The TEA has agreements with the SEA: Schools of Promise Initiative, Schools Wrap Around Initiative, Graduation Matters, student attendance and dropout prevention programs. The LEA’s (all four) participate in Graduation Matters, Indian Education For All and comprehensive school improvement planning with the SEA

  26. Tribe’s should be involved in education because currently the federal government has trust obligations to provide successful education for Native students. Tribe’s retain the right to oerate on a Government to Government basis; It is the policy of the federal government for a Self-Governance struture for Tribe’s. Many Tribe’s have proven that they are best at managing thier own affairs. Tribes understand thier communites better than states. We need everyone involved in the education decisions. Currently the Tribe’s are not equal partners making decisions for thier communities.

  27. Comments on questions listed in the announcement: 1) Identify authorities allowed by tribes. It is too vague. If a tribe wants access to data only, there needs to be language which allows access so schools and states won’t throw FERPA at us. 2) Will need training on states database; 3)Letter of support from LEAs should accompany pilot application. 4) Clearly specify TEA/LEA functions to create a stronger partnership. 5) Does the Cherokee Nation immersion school have a formal agreement with the state? If so, we believe it is a very good example. Concerns: who would a tribe be reporting to? State and/or Feds and how often? The language in the pilot should not only include reservation lands but also tribal jurisidictional areas for areas like Oklahoma. Other: Language in the formal announcement should address what functions are allowable for the tribe, i.e. data, professional development. Finally, how long will the grant run? One time only? Longer or shorter?

  28. The focus of the STEP Pilot must be on American Indian students. The Pilot must have as its vision and mission closing the achievement gap, raising graduation rates, preserving and promoting the Native language and culure of the students being served and preparing Native students for the next step whether its a career, higher education, armed forces service. The Pilot should be a partnership of TEA-SEA-LEA, coming together for the betterment of students–American Indian students. If all players are willing to come to the table with open minds and a commitment students rather than “territory” the kids will win!

  29. Within NCLB is a statement on self-gevernance, “it shall be the policy to facilitate Indian control in all matters relating to Indian Education?”

    I believe this is what the tribes were seeking as they pursued the TEA Pilot.

  30. My understanding of the TEA Pilot project was that tribes would come to the table as full partners with the states. The tribes would not be competing for $2M, but would make a proposal for administering federal funds designated for American Indian PK-12 students attending their reservation schools.

  31. i may get other to post comments please explain for all a simple definition of the pilot and explain the difference between LEA, SEA, AND TEA. THANKS

  32. it would be helpful to see actual examples of what this pilot will allow us to do. the TEA’S need to stay true to the intent of what we proposed. there are so many unique situations and relationships going on we need to be allowed to be flexible in maintaining our work with the local school district. the time needed to get support and understanding from the states may take a great deal of time

  33. It is extremely hard to get TEA’s and SEA’s to complete MAO/MAU contracts. Our students are being left behind because of the bureaucracy in these two sub-divisions. There has to be a better way to do things. We are here to educate our children, not running in circles or jump through more hoops just to get a signature on a paper!

  34. A recently release document produced by McREL entitled “Profiles of partnerships between tribal education departments and local education agencies” which “examines nine voluntary working relationships or partnerships between tribal education departments and local education agencies supporting american Indian students. Individual profiles describe how each partnership works, focusing primarily on collaborative activities intended to improve education outcomes for american Indian students.” The report can be downloaded at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/projects/project.asp?projectID=293

  35. Thank you for the opportunity to dialogue PRIOR to the STEP NIA being developed. Given the huge disparity of AI/AN students’ academic assessment results with the dominant society students’ scores; the inequity of valuing AI/AN students’ native knowledge and physical abilities that are never tested; the lack of truthful texts throughout social studies curricula; and, the tireless efforts of Tribal educators/administrators/school board members and organizations to right the historic wrongs, is it possible for the STEP initiative to move toward a National Indian Education Act for All? Partnerships with LEAs and TEAs could focus on previous efforts in several states to establish Indian Education Acts for All (IEAA) or initiate the process for states that do not have IEAAs. Through collaboration between SEAs and TEAs, further development of national standards, policies and curricula would greatly benefit all AI/AN students AND all other American students. To me, a National Indian Education Act for All would be a very valuable pilot to serve all students in the future.

  36. my concerns are around decision making, who is at the table for the discussion, the process of the pilot and timelines, always coming into question will be the purpose of the pilot in reference to local needs and the allowance of unique relationships to be honored.

    • I agree with joe davalos. I have concerns regarding who will be making these decisions; many LEAs are not supportive of Indian Education when it involves traditional ways. I also think that there should be strong oversite to ensure funding to any LEA be strictly for Native students only and not placed in a general fund allowing LEAs to decide what and who the funding will be spent on – as school funding is cut, school districts always attempt to find ways to take funding intended for Native students and use it for the school district’s rather than the Native students’ benefit.

  37. I am having a huge problem with mold growing in our residential restrooms. Residential buildings that were built in the 50/60’s are structured with unually high ceilings. It is hard to get air circulation flow and to clean windows and walls that high. How can we get our residential buildings replaced faster than the bureau redtape process? We are a grant school and are needing to move faster than we are allowed to by the government while our children’s safety, education, and funding are at stake. Thank you.

  38. It is critical to develop formal agreements between the SEA and the TEA to increase our Native students ability to achieve with equity among states. It is critical to develop strong partnerships to enhance and embrace diversity and understanding of our traditions.

  39. 1.TEA/SEA concerns when TEA performs SEA-level functions are: welcoming tribal elders to teach in the classroom without a state teaching certificate (allow tribes to vett their own elders as they deem appropriate); and allowing curricula to be developed and taught using Indigenous Ways of Knowing (abandon rigid content formulation and associated testing based on Western approaches). SEAs do not need additional resources or other assistance in entering into agreements with TEAs.
    2.Indigenous Ways of Knowing already possess any technical assistance a TEA needs to perform appropriate SEA-level functions. Relaxing rigid evaluation tools based on Western rubrics to refocus instead on indigenous ways of learning is needed.
    3. LEAs should be invited to voice support or nonsupport for the TEA-SEA agreements that affect their schools. LEA “awareness acknowledgement” letters that the LEA has been invited to comment on the TEA-SEA agreements be developed in the project as part of the application process. LEA “stakeholder comments” should be featured during the project as it develops.
    4.LEA concerns to be addressed are balance of Western and Indigenous approaches to learning (achieved through transparent curriculum content and teaching embracing indigenous ways of knowing and taught by tribally “authenticated wisdom keepers” although not “state-certified” tribal elders who help teach); and lack of knowledge about place-based local history of first peoples there and their life ways (achieved through inviting tribal wisdom keepers into classrooms, board meetings, etc.).
    5. Some examples exist at the college level where there is more flexibility in curricula and delivery. I am unfamiliar with TEAs to administer SEA-level functions at the K-12 level, but there may be some success stories out there?

    • I strongly agree with Victor. Native students as well as many other students will only benefit from an evolution of teaching methods and concepts to include culture and experiential learning methods. e.g. utilizing elders and local experts (licenced or unlicenced), culturally engaging settings (e.g. earthlodges), and activities (e.g. interaction with animals, gardens). We see this movement occurring already and this is a great opportunity for agencies to embrace and enhance it.

  40. #1: We have contracts with various state agencies that use standard language to recognize tribal sovereignty. Some state contracts reference following certain state laws/statutes, which are not applicable to Tribes. After the funding is received, possibly require an Action Plan for transition of authority/duties from SEA to TEA. #1/#2 Include capacity building for both SEA and TEA regarding education issues facing native students and administration of programs for native students. Free regional TA providers have been effective in other federal initiatives. #3 LEA support should happen during project period. Some schools may be ready for Tribes to take a lead role, while others will need more preparation. #4 Our Tribe has a CDC- Coordinated School Health cooperative agreement (previously only state or territorial agencies funded). It’s important that the CDC respected our knowledge/experience with our target population and didn’t require us to model ourselves after the state program.

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