David Beaulieu: Blaming Indians for failures in education system

"At February’s National Indian Education Association (NIEA) Legislative Summit in Washington D.C., William Mendoza was asked about the administration’s proposal to move the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to the Department of Education that had been floated at consultations with tribal leaders a year earlier. Mr. Mendoza, a Rosebud tribal member, is President Obama’s appointee as Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education established by the December 12, 2011 Executive Order 13592—Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.

As he began to explain that the idea of moving the BIE to the Department of Education had been uniformly rejected by tribal leaders while reminding all in attendance that the government had moved the Indian Health Service without tribal consultation, Charles Rose, the former general counsel at the US Department of Education rose from his seat to stand by Mr. Mendoza to explain that the idea was his. Executive Order 13592 that Mr. Mendoza had come to explain may just be a reincarnation, albeit a “lighter” version, of the administration’s proposal to the move the BIE to the Department of Education through a negotiated MOU between the two federal agencies.

The mission and functions of the Executive Order particularly its central function of “strengthening the relationship between the Department of Education, which has substantial expertise and resources to help improve Indian education, and the department of the Interior and its BIE, which directly operates or provides grants to tribes to operate an extensive primary, secondary, and college level school system for AI/AN children and adults” essentially seeks transferring the leadership of the BIE to the Department of Education in order to improve Indian education. The other functions of the executive order such as ensuring AI/AN participation in the development and implementation of “key administration priorities”, coordinating programs, reporting on policy and programs, building capacity, streamlining process for entering into agreements for educational studies, developing data sources encouraging partnerships, all essentially serve the central function of the Executive Order to accomplish a “move” of the BIE to the Department of Education leadership through the development of the required Memorandum of Agreement between the two federal agencies."

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David Beaulieu: The Obama Administration’s Blaming of American Indians as Policy (Indian Country Today 7/9)

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