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It's graduation season in much of the country, so today's edition focuses on education.
Unfortunately, most of the news is not good: disintegrating schools; declining graduation rates; disrespect of Indian students; disproportionate disciplinary actions. Even the "good" news — dollars for the American Indian College Fund — comes with a price tag attached.
And, as always with Indian news, none of the stories involves solely educational issues; they're all fraught with subtextual battles over history and identity and tradition and culture. I keep seeing the word "intersectionality" lately; it's a good one to keep in mind as you read about the colliding and competing needs and interests here.
Let's get to it.
OF MANY INDIAN SCHOOLS
I'm going to write about it again.
Because while the school year may be over in many areas, some are still in session; others have summer school classes scheduled (or canceled for lack of funds); and all face a new school year in under three months. All, that is, that have not closed in the interim due to the ongoing budgetary crisis.
As I've noted previously, most of the problem stems from the fact that the sequester put a near-immediate halt to what is known as "Impact Aid," federal funding for schools serving disadvantaged populations — a constituency, needless to say, that does not enjoy the lobbying clout of air travelers or other, more privileged demographics. And unlike non-tribal schools, they cannot make up the deficit via property tax increases or other levies.
The sequester went into effect on March 1, so affected schools have already had to slash operating budgets in anticipation of losing Impact Aid at the end of June. According to the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the sequester will cause cuts of more than $60 million to 710 mostly-Indian schools that serve some 115,000 Indian students.
Here in New Mexico, the Gallup-McKinley County Schools, serving some 9,000 Indian students (about 75% of the school district's entire student population) is already suffering. After cutting $2 million from its budget on March 1, the district is now facing the loss of 35% of its overall budget at the end of this month.
"The bottom line," [District Superintendent Ray] Arsenault said "is why should the poorest people in the United States have to pay" for Washington's gridlock.Window Rock High School, in Window Rock, Arizona, is looking at huge staff cuts and even closures:
Debbie Jackson-Dennison, superintendent of the Window Rock Unified School District in Arizona, told the Washington Post in March that she would cut 65 positions by the end of May. All of the students at Window Rock High School, the district's only secondary school, are Native American and 56 percent are considered low-income.And it's not just ordinary K-12 schools. Sitting Bull College, a mostly-Sioux post-secondary school in the Dakotas with programs for middle and high school students, faces similar problems:
Sitting Bull's three campuses, one in North Dakota and two in South Dakota, serve around 320 students a year, most of who [sic] are from the local Sioux tribe.And that doesn't even begin to touch the physical plant issues at many schools, something I addressed three weeks ago: lack of heat; leaking roofs; buildings that cannot withstand winter weather; rodent infestations; plumbing and sewage back-ups; toxic mold.
Summer's almost here. Your congressional representatives will be in their home districts. It's time to start buttonholing them, demanding an end to the sequester, and a decent funding base and other necessary resources for tribal schools.
The annual survey's records indicate that Indian graduation rates hit an all-time high in 2008, at an astonishingly bad 54%. Five years later, that number has dropped back to 51%, barely more than half. The reasons are legion, but it all comes back to one thing I've harped on my entire life:
"In many ways, our students are invisible," [National Indian Education Association director of communications RiShawn] Biddle says. "We're not the largest percentage of the population, so people forget for a moment that we're at the table."Some states, of course, perform better than others when it comes to ensuring that Indian students graduate. In Oklahoma, with a significant Native population (9%), Indian students have a graduation rate of 63%. On the other hand, in South Dakota (a state whose population comprises an even higher percentage of Native students, at 15%), fewer than one-third of Indian students receive a high school diploma.
Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Hawaii and Massachusetts achieved the highest graduation rates for American Indian students in 2010. Those rates range from close to 69 percent in Florida to 64 percent in Kansas. The overall graduation rate in Florida was 72.9 percent, the report states.You can read Education Week's press release for its "Diplomas Count 2013" report here [.pdf]. Coverage of the report as a whole is available here. An interactive .pdf version of the report is available behind a subscription wall here.
More "This Week In American Indian News" and Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the Frybead Thingey
PROMPTS STUDENT WALKOUT
After Bayfield (WI) High School valedictorian Victoria Gokee-Rindal called out the school administration for its treatment of Indian students, 15 of those students staged a walkout.
Ms. Gokee-Rindal (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) made her point during her commencement address last weekend:
"Even though we're 80 percent Native American, we have to almost check our 'Indian-ness' at the door."It's a problem Indians across the country face, at any age and in nearly any context.
The final straw apparently was the school's refusal to allow Indian students to attend classes after having smudged themselves. Now, Bayfield High School Administrator David Aslyn has announced that his team is working on the state's first "smudging policy" to address the incident. No word, however, on whether it will be a policy that permits Indian students to engage in traditional practices, or one that seeks to justify denying them those practices. He did concede that there's an issue:
"I do view Victoria's speech and what happened with the school walk-out on Monday as examples of the fact that, while we've got some good work going, we still have some work to do."I hope that "good advice" pointed out the glaring problem of a school with a Native student population of more than 80% being staffed by teachers who are more than 80% non-Native. That needs to change — and fast.
Of course, the smudging issue was, as Ms Gokee-Rindal put it, just the "tipping point," allegedly after a long and continuing history of disrespectful treatment:
Gokee-Rindal said her main concerns were about "basic human rights."David Aslyn's words notwithstanding, school administrators continue to profess confusion:
Meanwhile the walkout on the part of the students, who headed to the Red Cliff Tribal Center after leaving the school, where adult tribal members greeted them, was met with puzzlement on the part of school officials.Despite community fallout, Ms. Gokee-Rindal is not backing down:
"I've taken a lot of heat for it, but I am proud of what I did. Even though I've lost friends and people in my community are coming against me, overall the support I have is so much more. I'm taking a step toward the right thing."In fact, she did as her elders asked, and took on the responsibility for her generation:
Gokee-Rindal said she had been encouraged to take the stand by a number of women in the Red Cliff community.And that is not just a "step toward," Ms. Gokee-Rindal. What you did was "the right thing." The loss belongs to those who would sever their relationships with you because you had the courage to do it.
FOR WEARING EAGLE FEATHER ON MORTARBOARD
Chelsey Ramer, an enrolled member of Alabama's sole federally-recognized Indian tribe, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, last week celebrated what should have been one of the proudest days of her young life: her high school graduation. Instead, her diploma and transcripts are being withheld, and she has been assessed a $1,000 fine.
Eagle feathers represent a common tradition among American Indian students of many tribal nations. The feather may be presented to the student in advance of or as part of the ceremony, it may be attached to a mortarboard, or both. As an example, see the photo of Victoria Gokee-Rindal in the story immediately preceding this one.
As a lawyer, I was initially a bit skeptical of this story. If the school district has a rule, universally enforced, that nothing can be added to a graduation cap and gown, that would seem to be the end of it — and at first blush, that was how the story appeared. I can think of several reasons why a school district might not want to permit students to "add" to their caps and gowns. [In fact, I can think of one from my own graduation year at the town's other high school, where a friend attached to the arm of her gown a pop-culture symbol that we all translated as a stand-in for . . . erm . . . well, sexual profligacy, to use a formal term. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I have no doubt that some in attendance were mightily offended.]
In the public sphere, time, place, and manner restrictions are fairly regularly upheld, provided that they are reasonable and equally applied. I also suspected that the school might be a private institution, rather than part of a public school district. My own cultural traditions and affinities notwithstanding, there might be nothing to it, at least from the standpoint of the law (or even of fundamental fairness).
Then I saw the penalties.
They're disproportionate, to say the least. So disproportionate, in fact, as to raise the question of disparate application and impact. It's also come out that the underlying "facts" appear to be in dispute:
When Ramer and a few other Native American graduating students approached the school’s headmaster for permission to wear their feathers at graduation, the youths were warned not to do so.Ms. Ramer also alleges that, when she and her fellow Indian students requested permission, "[the headmaster] told us 'no' and that if we did, she would pull us off the field."
Really, people? "Pull [her] off the field?" Deny her the diploma and transcripts she earned through 12+ long years of work? Force her to pay one thousand dollars to ransom those earned credentials? A little perspective, please.
Did I mention that Ms. Ramer's school, Escambia Academy High School, is a private, "non-profit," Christian" school? One wonders whether the disproportionate response was truly about time, place, and manner restrictions or about catering to the prejudices of the headmaster and the "elected Board of Directors" and corporate sponsors of her "non-profit organization."
Ms. Ramer has announced her intention to seek legal counsel.
DISNEY COMMITS PREMIERE BOX-OFFICE REVENUES TO
AMERICAN INDIAN COLLEGE FUND
Finally, Disney seems to have become marginally aware that, with a lot of Indians, it has well and truly stepped in it with its latest
It could prove to be a sizeable donation: Since the studio is contributing revenues, rather than profits, it's committing to give the entire $1,000 cover price of each ticket sold. Stars are also slated to autograph a specially-commissioned Kawasaki Ninja at the event; the motorcycle will subsequently be auctioned and the proceeds likewise donated to the AICF.
Disney's official press release contained all the usual whitewashing by studio suits. It also contained the following statement from AICF President Cheryl Crazy Bull:
"The Fund is pleased to be the beneficiary of this event because our scholarships are an investment in a healthier, more prosperous future for tribal students and their families. We are poised to serve over 20,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students attending the tribal colleges across this country. Currently our scholarships serve less than 21% of those students so we appreciate any opportunity to bring resources into our scholarship program."'So let's be clear: I'm very happy that the AICF will be getting a sudden influx of money, presumably with no strings attached. It will no doubt be put to very good use, and will provide additional opportunities for Indian students who would not otherwise have them.
Let's be equally clear that, for me, this does not absolve Disney, the movie's directors and producers, or Johnny Depp of their minstrelsy sins — particularly not since they're selling product tie-ins that include that ridiculous costume, complete with faux dead-bird headdress, and since Depp is capitalizing on his Tonto-speak soft-shoe in other venues.
If you want an Indian take on Depp, I recommend watching at the link immediately above for context, followed by Native comedian Tito's version.
Let's build communities!
Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
Click >>>HERE to see a list of all the regional Kossack groups that have organized for social and activism events. There are handy links to contact each organizer to join.
>>>Instructions on HOW TO FORM A NEW DAILY KOS GROUP
Saturday, June 15th
TIME: 5:30 PM
Near Pier 15 • San Francisco
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
1. belinda ridgewood
4. Glen the Plumber
Saturday, June 15th
Los Angeles Kossacks Roll Out the Red Carpet for navajo
TIME: 5:00 PM
LOCATION: Saladang Song
383 S Fair Oaks Ave • Pasadena
ORGANIZER: Send Dave in Northridge a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: LA Kossacks: Meetup: June 15, 5 PM, Pasadena, Saladang Song
1. Dave in Northridge
5. Mrs. azazello
9. Zack from the SFV
11. mangolind's Shaun
14. jared the bassplayer
June 20th - 23rd • REGISTER HERE • BOOK YOUR HOTEL!
These tables have been organized for our groups to connect during NN13 in the plenary sessions. This is where the opening and closing keynotes take place along with many noon-time-speaking events. Box lunches are sometimes provided and it's great to have a place reserved with familiar faces. If you're attending you're invited to start a table or sit at any of the established ones. Just let me know in the comments or send me a Kosmail. Please note: This is not assigned seating. You may sit at any of the reserved tables at any time. I plan to move around and mingle. There will be over 2500 people there so being able to find each other is nice.
Netroots Nation 2013 in San Jose: Plenary Session Table Reservations
1. side pocket √
2. mrs. side pocket √
3. kimoconnor √
5. lineatus √
6. Cali Scribe √
7. Glen the Plumber √
8. remembrance √
9. jotter √
10. aha aha √
1. Lusty √
2. RainyDay √
3. norm √
4. catilinus √
5. Lorikeet √
8. maggiejean √
9. paradise50 √
10. smileycreek √
1. Kamakhya √
2. dharmasyd √
5. highacidity √
7. Senor Unoball
9. slouching √
1. edrie √
2. Jeff in CA
3. Mrs. Jeff in CA
4. mber √
5. Susie Raye √
6. vcmvo2 (Honorary)
7. N in Seattle (Honorary) √
8. dangoch √
10. ceebee7 √
2. Cedwyn √
4. Sreeizzle2012 (Honorary)
6. Floja Roja √
Central Valley Kossacks:
2. Kestrel √
3. Caddis Fly √
5. peregrine kate (honorary)
6. ProvokingMeaning (honorary)
7. mrsgoo √ (mrgoo √)
1. nomandates √
2. texasmom √
3. texasdad √
6. TexMex √
8. mr. cosette
9. cosette jr.
Los Angeles Kossacks:
2. jakedog42 √
3. susans √
NYC and beyond:
1. sidnora √
2. belinda ridgewood √
4. Todd Beeton
5. theroaringgirl √
6. thankgodforairamerica √
7. devtob √
8. LuLu √
9. chicklet √
Community Quilt Project:
1. Sara R √
2. winglion √
3. loggersbrat √
4. ramara (Arizona) √
5. Horace Boothroyd III √
6. linkage √
Military Community Members:
3. angelajean √
4. exlrrp (Maybe)
6. llbear (Maybe)
7. Mark E Andersen √
Cheers & Jeers Readers:
1. vicki √
2. Sharoney √
3. Spousal Unit √
4. brillig √
5. mik √
6. K1 √
8. Arenosa √
10. PerfectStormer √
Gay Men of ANY Certain Age:
2. gizmo59's partner?
3. Dave in Northridge √
6. cooper888 √
7. gotmooned √
8. FogCityJohn √
10. sfbob √ (Plus TrapperSF √, dinner only)
Native American Netroots:
1. navajo √
2. Meteor Blades √
3. 4Freedom √
4. no way lack of brain
5. translatorpro √
6. Kitsap River √
7. Charles Curtis Stanley √
9. TFLS's guest
10. TFLS's guest
Netroots for the Troops:
1. TexDem √
2. Velovixen √
3. bsegel √
Mr. sidnora √
Mr. Scribe √
Those with the √ have RSVP'd for the dinner below, you can join us also.
Just say in the comments or Kosmail me.
Wednesday, June 19th
Cheers & Jeers - * New Day * Dinner
TIME: 5:30 PM
LOCATION: The Brit (Britannia Arms)
173 W. Santa Clara St. (0.5 miles walking distance from Conv. Center) • Downtown San Jose
Around the corner from the front entrance to The Brit is a garden entrance that is accessible. It's on Almaden. So on Santa Clara, go west and turn the corner at Almaden. You'll see an entrance with British decor. We'll be in that garden area.Every year since 2007, Common Sense Mainer has organized a dinner for the readers of Cheers & Jeers who attend Netroots Nation. It has grown every year. Last year we had over 100 Kossacks attend. CSM always chooses a restaurant willing to handle a large crowd WITH SEPARATE CHECKS. (!?!) Yes, I know, hard to believe but it's worked the last several years. This year CSM has negotiated with The Brit for a special menu and separate checks are secured. If you'd like to join us please leave a comment in this diary and you'll be put on the RSVP list below. This year * New Day * and SFKossacks are co-hosting. All regional groups are invited to attend in addition to the loyal C&J following that Bill and Michael have.
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend or leave a comment.
The above event is followed by the official opening event featuring Howard Dean:
Liquid Courage party to open NN13
Our friends at the Courage Campaign have announced that they’re throwing a party to open Netroots Nation 2013. Gov. Howard Dean will be there!
TIME: 7:30 - 9:30 PM
LOCATION: The Tech Museum
201 South Market St. (walking distance from Conv. Center) • Downtown San Jose
Arrive early on Wednesday to pick up your credentials at the Convention Center which will get you into the Liquid Courage event. You can let them know you're coming on their facebook page.
TheFatLadySings is working with Eric at Netroots Nation to try to assemble a fleet of power scooters and power chairs that can be reserved and rented by those who need them at a discount. We need to assess how many people will make use of this service. Please Kosmail TheFatLadySings with your needs for NN13.
American Indian Caucus
DATE: Thursday, June 20th
TIME: 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM
EVERYONE IS WELCOME!
You can let us know you're attending at our facebook event page.
linkage has volunteered to video record this event and we'll be able to provide it in our caucus recap.
Our speakers this year include:
Actor Michael Horse and Pennie Opal Plant: Michael was at Wounded Knee and participates heavily in the national American Indian Community. Pennie addressed the huge crowd at a climate change event in San Francisco this spring. Her activism focuses on protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Corrina Gould: A member of the Ohlone tribe that inhabited the East Bay before the European invaders. Corrina fights to protect Glen Cove (Sogorea Te), a sacred shellmound burial ground and village site on the Carquinez Strait in Vallejo, CA from development.
Why Winning Indian Country Matters to You
DATE: Thursday, June 20th
TIME: 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
This panel of Native Vote organizers and strategists will engage participants on why winning Indian country is vital to all people, not just one demographic. How do the political and public policy interests of Native Vote intersect with larger voting blocs? How can progressives ensure that Native issues and the Native community are addressed and well-represented?
Moderator: Prairie Rose Seminole
Panelists: Peggy Flanagan, Kevin Killer and Meteor Blades
Community Quilt Project NN13 Flash Mob Photo
smileycreek is organizing and asking all Community Quilt recipients to bring their quilts to NN13. It will be a group hug celebrating one of the most beloved community building projects we have here at Daily Kos with Sara R and winglion at the center of it.
Date: Saturday, June 22nd
Time: 6:30 PM after the closing keynote
Location: Vista Point seating area
In front of Exhibit Hall I there are two staircases leading down to the main entrance to the Convention Center on San Carlos Street. It's called Vista Point. Access it from the inside of the building because the outside entrance is currently under construction.
linkage has volunteered to video record this event and do interviews of the quilt owners.
2. Dave in Northridge
4. BeninSC (not attending, quilt only)
8. llbear (not attending, quilt only)
10. Smoh (not attending, quilt only)
12. belinda ridgewood
15. Kitsap River
16. Charles Curtis Stanley
17. Dr. Lori (not attending, quilt only)
18. Regina in a Sears Kit House (not attending, quilt only)
19. peregrine kate
21. Darkhawk (not attending, quilt only)
Sunday, June 23rd
Post NN13 Birding Event
TIME: 11:00 AM (if this time is problematic notify lineatus)
TBD • TBD
ORGANIZER: Send lineatus a kosmail to attend.
2. Senor Unoball
3. peregrine kate
7. BCO Gal
8. Belinda Ridgewood
Maybees:Latest diary: Dawn Chorus: Meet the locals!
"At Netroots Nation, we will try to introduce you to as many of them as possible. There will be an "official" birding trip on Sunday after things wrap up at the convention, but I'm up for early morning and lunchtime quick trips whenever it works. There's a lot to see within minutes of the convention center. Any local Kossacks who aren't able to attend NN13 are still welcome to join in any walks or trips - Kosmail me." [lineatus]
Friday, June 21st
WarrenS Invites Boston Kossacks to His 350ma Benefit
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Emmanuel Church
15 Newbury Street • Boston
ORGANIZER: Send WarrenS a kosmail to attend.
Three dance companies representing diverse movement traditions will join together to draw attention to the global climate crisis. Featured artists are the Zoé Dance Company, the Navarasa Dance Theater, and Nani Agbeli & The Agbekor Society. Tickets are $20; $15 students/seniors. All proceeds will go to 350ma, the Massachusetts chapter of the environmental organization www.350.org. For information and online ticket purchases, please visit the event website.
Latest diary: Dancing For The Planet - 350ma Benefit Concert: Boston, MA, 06/21/13
Monday, June 24th
SFKossacks Hike Cliff House Coastal Trail, Muir Woods & Marin Headlands
TIME: TBD, start mid-morning
LOCATION: Cliff House Coastal Trail, Muir Woods & Marin Headlands • San Francisco
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
2. belinda ridgewood
4. side pocket
7. Glen the Plumber
8. Mark E Andersen
9. Dave in Northridge
Tuesday, June 25th
SFKossacks take the Ferry to Tiburon for Lunch at Guaymas
LOCATION: Meet at Ferry Terminal behind Ferry Building
Embarcadero & Market • San Francisco
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
2. belinda ridgewood
Glacier National Park Kossack EPIC Meetup!
LOCATION: Glacier National Park
402 9th St W • Columbia Falls, Montana
ORGANIZER: Send arizonablue a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Glacier National Park Check In! Glacier National Park Meetup - Part II w/ lodging and campground info!
5. Ojibwa - arriving for the weekend
13. state of confusion
14. Lute the Norwegian
15. Josh Blue
16. Thinking Fella
17. Blu Gal in DE
Ed in Montana
Saturday, June 29th
Houston Area Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: Goode Company Taqueria and Hamburgers
4902 Kirby Drive • Houston
ORGANIZER: Send Chrislove a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Houston Area Kossacks: Meet-Up Scheduled for Saturday, June 29!
4. Mr. suesue
9. mister mustardhead
Bridgitt (honorary Kossack)
Sunday, July 7th
Chicago Kossacks Go to a Ballgame!
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: Fifth Third Bank Ball Park
34W002 Cherry Lane • Geneva
ORGANIZER: Send NormAl1792 a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Chicago(land) Kossacks Meet-Up July 7: Take Me Out to the Ball Game
5. Mr. broths
6. edwardssl & her family
New York Hudson Valley Kossacks
NY Hudson Valley Kossacks' First Meet-up
LOCATION: Hudson House
2 Main Street • Cold Spring, NY
ORGANIZER: Send boran2 a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: [Coming soon!]
Thursday, July 18th
Phoenix Kossacks Meet-up for navajo
TIME: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: Rancho de Tia Rosa
3129 E. McKellips • Mesa
ORGANIZER: Send arizonablue a kosmail to attend.
navajo's in town one day, even though it's a Thursday we hope you can make it.
Latest diary: ATTN Phoenix Kossacks: Let's Welcome Navajo to the Valley of the Sun!
2. Mr. arizonablue
5. Mrs. Azazello
7. Mrs. ninothemindboggler
9. mrs. thomask
11. Late Again
12. Mother Mags
Kane in CA
Kane in CA friend
Mr. Late Again
dewey in the desert
Saturday, July 20th
Dkos Asheville, North Carolina Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Bywater
796 Riverside Dr. • Asheville
ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: DKos Asheville Open Thread 5/18/13: Frogs and tomatoes and snakes, oh my!
2. Otteray Scribe
7. Captain Sham
9. Burns Lass
12. Phil S 33
Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.
Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?