Editorial: Help Pascua Yaqui students succeed

"The Tucson Unified School District has unveiled a plan to improve student achievement. While the goal is to increase academic performance in all of its schools, the new outline gives particular attention to schools that are on state or federal lists as needing intensive help.

TUSD's latest plan addresses a shortcoming that has nagged the district for years by increasing training and cultural proficiency for teachers who work with American Indian students, a group that hasn't performed as well on standardized tests.

The Native American Studies Department will create education forums for parents to better inform them of testing requirements, as well as come up with ways to increase student attendance. But here, too, are steps that either have been taken — or should have been. For example, increasing the number of kids who consistently come to school has long been a focus for Hohokam Middle School. Yet the middle school, which serves a large number of Pascua Yaqui students, had an attendance rate of 87 percent last school year compared with 93 percent districtwide. And of those students who missed class, 60 percent were unexcused absences — twice TUSD's rate.

Pascua Yaqui tribal officials told the Star's George B. Sánchez they were glad to hear of the improvement plan, but education division director Alena Hernandez said the tribe would like TUSD to "reach out more." But that goes both ways — the tribe must emphasize the value of education and help the schools. The Tribal Council took a good step when it voted June 27 to give TUSD $50,000 from its gaming revenue to help aid American Indian student improvement, attendance and parent involvement.

Students deserve a solid education, no matter where they live or which school they attend. This plan may not be entirely new, and the elements — helping kids when they need it, properly training teachers and administrators and making sure all schools are on track — should be no-brainers for any school district. "

Get the Story:
Editorial: TUSD's plan for Pascua kids is a good start (The Arizona Daily Star 7/17)

$rl Pascua Yaqui Tribe - http://www.pascuayaqui-nsn.gov

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