Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Corey Still, both authors of EdWeek articles, discuss the problem with American Indians underachieving in schools. These are just two examples of articles written by individuals who have insight into how we, as individuals, can contribute to the upward path of success among Native students in schools. In order for them to succeed, they must be given that opportunity.
Title VII: A Path to Education Equity
Still addresses the problems that lead to failure of students to succeed in school. He includes the fact that many Native students and schools lack the funding and resources that are needed for opportunities to succeed. History has proven to Natives that being traditional and embracing their culture is wrong, and that they must become more “white.” What Still recommends as a start to solving this problem of underperforming is that these schools and students need more funding, and that laws ensure that they are meeting the “educational needs of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students” (Still, 31). He, along with many professionals, believe that bringing culture and tradition into classrooms will give students the confidence in themselves. This piece is key: if American Indian students gain the self-confidence, along with academic confidence to succeed, get help through federal aid, are introduced to community and school opportunities that will help them learn and grow, and have the support of those around them, there is no doubt that we will see many more American Indian students succeeding in schools across the country.
Miseducation of Native American Students
This article covers the idea that Native American students have been miseducated for centuries, and that these students have been perceived in stereotypical ways by their non-Native peers. They are not taught about their own history in their schools, which suppresses and ignores their contribution to American society and portrays their people in a negative way. These messages are fed to Native students and contribute to the continual poor achievement and drop-out rates of these students in schools across the country. Negative attitudes and lack of support from non-Native faculty are the reason that students are failing. Dunbar-Ortiz provides solutions to this under achievement of American Indian students, including teaching Native students about their past, honoring their history and heritage, then further preparing them for the future. It is only once these students have the opportunity to fully engage in their tradition and learn about their past that they will have the opportunity to succeed.
Both authors focus on the idea that underachievement seen in Native American students in schools may be due to the idea that throughout the history of America, American Indians have not been educated on the true history of their culture. For those students who have, they have been taught in a negative and shameful framework that suppresses the pride they have for their culture. If these students were given the proper insight into their history, and given the opportunities that other, more fortunate students have to grow and move past this oppressive history of their people, it would allow them to honor their past, and then fully prepare for their future. By giving Native American students the proper space to embrace their tradition and gain confidence in themselves and their people, and if they receive support from adults and administrators in these schools, we would see the rate of underachievement turn around.
Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2016). The Miseducation of Native American Students: Dehumanizing myths and misconceptions hurt Native students. Education Week,36(14), 22-33.
Still, C. (2013). Title VII: A Path to Education Equity. Education Week,33(13), 30-33.