Tahlequah Daily Press

January 17, 2014

Native education

Title VII boosts learning programs for Native students

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed more than a decade ago, it was intended to help children who may be at a disadvantage in the academic realm.

Today, a specific section of the act helps local schools provide programs and services to American Indian children.

“We are very grateful for the funding and assistance provided through Title VII,” said Dr. Marilyn Dewoody, superintendent of Hulbert Public Schools. “It permits us to employ an additional math teacher at the elementary school, and a scholarship and career counselor at the junior high and high school.”

Nancy K. Jones, executive director of special services and Title VII director for Tahlequah Public Schools, said the district received $324,000 in Title VII funding for the 2013-’14 year.

“Title VII is basically an Indian education grant,” Jones said. “When students are enrolled, parents fill out the Title VII form. This identifies our American Indian students. The information is sent in, and we are awarded funding based on the number of Native American students we have.”

HPS, which has an American Indian enrollment of 64 percent, received $78,000 in Title VII funding.

TPS Title VII funds several programs

Through Title VII, TPS funds in-school programs; tutoring before and after school; literacy labs; Cherokee language and culture classes; a Native American student advocate; and attendance to Native American conferences.

“The district manages the money,” Jones said. “Staff employed through the funding are supervised and assessed. Grant records are kept and we ensure that the parents committee has input on how the funds are spent.”

TPS holds meetings, open to the public, of the Title VII Parent Committee. The committee also includes school officials and a student representative. The committee held its first meeting of 2014 on Thursday.

“Each year, the committee assesses what parents of Indian children want - what they deem important to the education of their children,” Jones said. “At this most recent meeting, the committee were looking at the results of parental suggestions and assessments of what we need.”

A new member of the committee is Michael Adair, who serves as the district’s Native student advocate.

“We are excited to have him with the district,” Jones said. “He can help them find scholarships or watch attendance. So often the focus is on kids who are having a lot of trouble or doing really well, but Mr. Adair wants to meet with every American Indian student to touch base with them.”

Serving as the student representative on the committee is Olivia Good Voice.

“She is very impressive and has good ideas,” Jones said. “Having a student on the committee keeps us in tune with the concerns of the students and how they feel. It gives us an understanding of their needs, instead of what we perceive as their needs.”

Title VII funding is appropriated specifically for the education of American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education. The name refers to Title VII of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Schools may apply for funding under Title VII if at least 10 American Indians attend the institution or account for 25 percent of enrollment.

The committee will meet April 17 and Sept. 11 at noon in the conference room of the Tahlequah Board of Education building, 225 N. Water St.