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President Obama’s Pledge to Strengthen Tribal Education

On December 2nd, 2011 President Obama signed Executive Order 13592 titled “Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.” The order sets policy intended to address the educational needs of the nation's American Indians and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Most AI/AN communities are located in some of the country’s poorest and most remote areas and recent studies have shown that the communities' students have much higher dropout rates and larger achievement gaps than non-AI/AN populations. The policy builds on the Federal Government’s commitment to furthering tribal self-determination by expanding opportunities to preserve Native languages and cultures while providing high-quality education. 

The Executive Order establishes an interagency initiative that will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Interior and includes representatives from several other federal agencies. The effort will create a broad partnership between state, local, tribal, and private entities. The initiative's mission is to “help expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all AI/AN students, including opportunities to learn their Native languages, cultures, and histories and receive complete and competitive educations that prepare them for college, careers, and productive and satisfying lives.”

The objectives encompass:

  • Increasing the number of AI/AN children who enter kindergarten to include Native language and cultural immersion programs.
  • Implementing reform strategies that will provide AI/AN students a more rigorous and well-rounded education. 
  • Increasing the number of highly qualified teachers
  • Reducing the dropout rate and increasing college preparedness
  • Providing mechanisms for dropouts to re-enter education and training programs
  • Increasing college access and completion
  • Ensuring that the unique cultural, educational, and language needs of the AI/AN community are met


To read the full text version please visit the White House’s official press release.





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