WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a committee legislative hearing to receive testimony on the following bills:
· S. 410, a bill to strengthen Indian education, and for other purposes;
· S. 1163, a bill to amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide flexibility and reauthorization to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American Languages; and
· S. 1928, the “Native Educator Support and Training Act,” a bill to support the education of Indian children.
The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Lillian Sparks Robinson, commissioner at the Administration for Native Americans at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Honorable Robert MoQuino, first lieutenant governor of the Pueblo of Acoma; Dr. Glenabah Martinez, associate professor for educational thought and sociocultural studies at the University of New Mexico; and Ms. Michelle Accardi, director of state policy and outreach at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Click here for more information on the witnesses’ testimony and to watch video of the entire hearing.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today we will examine three bills: S. 410, a bill to strengthen Indian education; S. 1163, a bill to amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide flexibility and reauthorization to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages; and S. 1928, a bill to support the education of Indian children.
“As our nation honors and celebrates the heritage and culture of Native Americans this month, it is very fitting that today’s hearing focuses on legislation that would help educate the next generation of Native Americans.
“According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2011-12 school year, the national graduation rate reached ‘a profound milestone’ with 80 percent of the students receiving a high school diploma.
“During the same school year, Indian students were the lowest achieving ethnic group to receive a diploma rate – only 67 percent.
“High dropout rates, crumbling school facilities, recruiting educators to teach Indian children, and the list of challenges goes on.
“These are just some of the problems these bills are intended to address.
“Senate Bill 410, sponsored by Senator Udall, would establish a program to help improve tribal and Bureau of Indian Education school facilities.
“This bill would create a joint oversight board between the Department of the Education and the Department of the Interior.
“Senate Bill 1163, sponsored by Senator Udall, and co-sponsored by Senators Franken, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Murkowski, Schatz, and Tester, would reauthorize and amend the Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act grant program. The previous authorization expired in 2012.
“Finally, Senate Bill 1928, sponsored by vice-chairman Tester, and co-sponsored by Senators Franken and Heinrich, would establish Indian educator scholarship programs, loan forgiveness for qualifying educators who teach Indian children, and establish grants to assist educators with professional development and training.”