A new proposed bill in Alaska aims to radically alter the public education system while addressing the exorbitant high school dropout rates in Native American students. With this plan, the public education system would be put in the hands of the Alaskan Tribes.
Although they would need to meet specific state requirements, the Tribes would essentially get to control all the important details of the education system. Naturally, supporters of the proposed bill say it could lead to drastic improvements in education for Alaska Native communities.
A Need For Change
The need for change in the Alaskan education system is prominent. That said, the state consistently ranks among the bottom in the country in terms of high school graduation rates.
Additionally, the dropout rates seen in Native American students are considerably higher than their peers, which is observed throughout the country. However, Alaska has far more Native students than most states.
According to the bill’s supporters, the state has the opportunity to reverse the poor outcomes for Alaska Native students because the Tribes will be in control of most decisions. Further, supporters point out that the Tribes know which aspects of traditional education do not work for Native American students.
What The Proposed Bill Consists
If the proposed bill passes, it will create a pilot program allowing Alaskan Tribes to operate their public schools through an agreement with the state government. The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), which helped create the bill, wants the pilot program to include five schools.
After a designated period, the state will assess what’s working with the program and what’s not. However, one thing’s for sure to the AFN; the current education approach is not working for Native American students.
“The state and the commissioner are saying that the state is failing Native students right now,” AFN President Julie Kitka explains. That said, the main details of the current education system that need altering according to the AFN are the curriculum and schedule.
Therefore, the bill proposes each Tribe should have the freedom to create lesson plans and restructure their school years around subsistence activities. An Alaska Department of Education Tribal liaison, Joel Isaak, says, “Alaska is not a monolith. And there’s no one clear education model for all Alaska Native peoples.”
Of course, the lesson plans the Tribes generate still need to match federal educational standards. Also, students will still be expected to attend school for a certain amount of time and be taught by state-certified teachers. Besides meeting these requirements, the proposed bill says the Tribes will have control over everything else they implement.
Misunderstandings About Native American Students
The proposed Alaskan bill strives to reduce the alarming high school dropout rates the state observes every year. To outsiders, the high dropout rates in Native American students indicate they don’t value or care about education. However, supporters of the recent bill say the exact opposite is true.
In fact, some argue that Native Americans survive through education, but their educational needs are different from traditional Western methods. Essentially, Native American students require lessons tailored to their way of life.
Therefore, the academic bill in Alaska has the potential to radically shift how these students approach and feel about the public education system. Although it hasn’t officially been put into practice yet, the new bill in Alaska has incredible potential.
First, it directly addresses a problem prevalent in the United States; Native American high school dropout rates. On top of that, it innovates the public education system, proving there’s more than one way to educate high school students effectively.
Finally, the bill indicates that Native American students need to be taught differently to stay engaged and motivated to finish high school.