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Increase Funding to Improve the Education of Native Americans

This petition had 400 supporters

Support Senator Tom Udall’s request for additional funding to the BIE and BIA.  Let us not forget that education is a human right which includes (a) the right of access to quality education; (b) the practice of human rights in and through education; and (c) education as a right that facilitates the fulfillment of other rights.

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is responsible for 183 Bureau-funded elementary and secondary schools, located on 64 reservations in 23 states, served approximately 42,000 Indian students.  Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under BIE contracts or grants. The Bureau also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools. The BIE also serves American Indian and Alaska Native post secondary students through higher education scholarships and support funding for tribal colleges and universities. The BIE directly operates two post secondary institutions: the Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  These students represent federally recognized tribes from across the United States and are as culturally diverse as imaginable.  

The 2003 funding level of $293 million has dropped to now only $53 million and therefore the BIA  has failed to live up to its responsibilities for protecting the health and safety of Indian school children and college students.  The backlog in construction and maintenance of facilities has impacted the safety of those that attend including serious structural deficiencies, lack of handicapped accessibility, and violations of building and fire codes.  BIA has done nothing to remedy the situation despite repeated requests by officials from schools throughout the system.  Instead the BIA plans to cut more than $8 million in funding for future school construction and maintenance.

Cutbacks over several years have affected the schools’ academic capacity also as the BIE continues to hire and promote individuals who no experience or expertise to run those schools.  The BIE is filling positions with people who cannot quality for like positions in the private sector because they are not properly qualified.  Even senior level managers are not qualified. 

We as a nation are obliged, collectively and individually, to make quality education available to all, accessible without any form of discrimination, acceptable in the light of international human rights standards and adaptable to the circumstances and in the best interest of the child.


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