Education, protection of the elderly and upholding Indian history and culture are top issues in the overall agenda of Native American lawmakers during the 2022 South Dakota legislative session. Following bills filed by Native lawmakers and those related to Native issues is one way to see which issues are most important to members of South Dakota's Native community.
South Dakota News Watch was one of more than 100 applicants for the grant from the Solutions Journalism Network that provides funding, training and support to expand coverage of a community or population facing challenges in health, education or quality of life.
St. Joseph's Catholic school near Chamberlain, funded by millions in donations, provides a full-service education that has paid off in high achievement among its Native American students. A school official said that the school's approach and achievement can be replicated somewhat at schools with lower per-student expenditures.
Native American education advocates are pushing for legislation that would allow the first charter schools to be opened in South Dakota, specifically with a focus on new ways to teach Native children who have historically struggled in the state. Any bill is likely to face opposition, but examples of success elsewhere do exist, including a high-achieving school run by a tribe in Florida.
A SOUTH DAKOTA NEWS WATCH SPECIAL REPORT: This article is the first of three stories that make up Part 2 of a two-week special report focusing on the failure of the South Dakota public education system to adequately educate Native American students, who make up 10% of the state's total student population. Last week, News Watch examined the problem and its causes; this week's reporting focuses on potential reforms and solutions. This article examines how new curricula, a greater emphasis on language and culture, a push to hire more Native educators and attempts to spur parental and community involvement in education are generating hope of reversing a historic trend of inadequate academic achievement by Native American students. Other articles this week look at a proposal to allow Native-focused charter schools in South Dakota, and a profile of a highly successful, well-funded Catholic school for Native American students.
In Eagle Butte, a bustling after-school program helps Native American youths find reasons to stay in school and to pursue future success in work and in life by providing access to art, culture, job-training and life skills education.
A SOUTH DAKOTA NEWS WATCH SPECIAL REPORT: Native American students in South Dakota have for decades lagged far behind their white peers in academic achievement, leading to devastating later-in-life consequences. South Dakota educators and experts blame the failures mainly on inequities and gaps in the public-school system and lingering societal issues, including generational poverty and historical trauma, that are far outside students' control. In a two-week special report, News Watch examines the problem and reveals how a new inclusive approach to public education and a host of reform efforts could lead to a renaissance in Native education in South Dakota. The two articles in Part 1 are published here.
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