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An Underrepresented, Struggling Minority in Higher Education


July 26, 2016
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Native American students lag behind their peers from a young age, across almost every measure of student success. From college enrollment, to test scores and on-time graduation, they have the lowest rates of any racial subgroup. They make up a mere 1 percent of the high school and college population and tend to be overlooked when it comes to discussion about the nation's achievement gap.

Native American students lag behind their peers from a young age, across almost every measure of student success. From college enrollment, to test scores and on-time graduation, they have the lowest rates of any racial subgroup. They make up a mere 1 percent of the high school and college population and tend to be overlooked when it comes to discussion about the nation's achievement gap.

American Indian and Alaska Native Students have the highest drop-out rate - at 11.3 percent, which is nearly double the national average - the lowest graduation rate, are the least likely to enroll in college, and the second least likely to graduate on time. Native American tribal communities are not only small and young but also poor, with the median household income as low as $30,000 for some tribes. Stricken by poverty, joblessness, addiction, and abuse, they are "at the heart of the worst educational outcomes in the country."

Issues in Native Americans' education go back to the post-Civil War, when the U.S. government forced Native American children into boarding schools to make them more "civilized." Despite the White House's attempts to help by transferring more control over the schools to the tribes, they are "met with skepticism" because the government has "zero credibility with them. They see [the government] as the devil." Even with the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, "longstanding gaps" between minority students and white students dissipated while the Native students stagnated; their ACT scores reached a five-year low.

Some successful students have cited Tribal colleges as their saving grace. Rather than attending at a mainstream institution and theorizing what it means to be Native American, they can go to tribal colleges and live it. Furthermore, they are surrounded by students from other tribes and are educated on the issues pervasive in tribal communities such as economic development, justice, and health care. Many Native American students hope to return to their communities and make a difference, as well as "build tribal capacity" and leadership for education reform.

Many colleges and universities actively seek and admit Native American students to their schools, cognizant of the disparity and achievement gap. Furthermore, they are generous in their funding through Native American scholarships.

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saif bakshi  on  8/1/2016 1:07:44 PM commented:

For best future we have to be educated so that our country became best country that's all

Nicole S.  on  7/27/2016 11:40:09 PM commented:

My great great grandmother was a full blood Native American in St. Mary's parish in LA in the late1800s. I have this information from anecdotal family history and official U.S. Census documents, where she was enumerated as "Indian". What I do not have is any evidence of her tribal affiliation. I took a DNA test that calculated I am approximately 10% Native American, but they don't genotype by tribe. So I consider myself mixed race, my tribe being the human race.

Tamara L  on  7/26/2016 7:55:31 PM commented:

Any grants for Moors, African American, black women

bat b  on  7/26/2016 6:22:48 PM commented:

I remember that good intention does not always prevail what it is intented to. consequently, it has negative effect to society and the government especially American, does not really accept its failed domestic policy. Therefore, continue doing it to African-American minorities. Good intention that i meant is welfare check, same policy the govt did to American Indians. I am not sure when it, The govt, is going to learn its policy. Stop involving in a life for everyone. I am sure in a long run, they will learn

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