PRESS RELEASE - November 13, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Gov. Richardson Announces Penny Bird as New Assistant Secretary for Indian Education

(Albuquerque, NM)-- Gov. Bill Richardson today appointed Carlotta Penny Bird of Santo Domingo Pueblo as the Public Education Department's new assistant secretary for Indian Education.

Ms. Bird said, “I have been a teacher and a learner all of my life. At a recent conference, a panel discussion was held among high school students representing a variety of tribes and schools in the state. What I heard were very succinct examples of best instructional practices that worked for them and can build a meaningful future for students.”

Ms. Bird has worked with the Zuni Public Schools since 1993. Her first job was as curriculum resource specialist for two years. After that, she was curriculum coordinator for four years. Since July 1999, Ms. Bird has served as director of Instruction for the district, working to help students reach their maximum potential and ensuring that instruction in the schools aligns with state standards and benchmarks.

Prior to Zuni, Ms. Bird served as an education consultant in the Indian Education Unit at the New Mexico State Department of Education from 1990 to 1993. She has worked for Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Bernalillo Public Schools, Laguna-Acoma High School in the Grants-Cibola County Schools, American Indian Scholarships, Inc. in Taos, All Indian Pueblo Council in Albuquerque and Albuquerque Indian School.

Ms. Bird holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and since 1999 has been a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) candidate at UNM. She is a graduate of Albuquerque’s Valley High School.

Throughout her career, Ms. Bird, who is proficient in both Keres and English, has worked with the 19 Pueblos, the Jacarilla Apache, the Mescalero Apache and the Dineh tribes in New Mexico. She has also worked with many schools and organizations as an appointed member of statewide committees and task forces.

The creation of an assistant secretary for Indian education was a major component of SB 115, Indian Education Act, signed into law in 2003 by Gov. Richardson. Only one other state, Minnesota, has a comprehensive Indian Education Act.

The purposes of New Mexico’s Indian Education Act are as follows:

· Ensure equitable and culturally relevant learning environments, educational opportunities and culturally relevant instructional materials for American Indian students enrolled in public schools;
· Ensure maintenance of native languages;
· Provide for the study, development and implementation of educational systems that positively affect the educational success of American Indian students; and
· Provide the means for a formal government-to-government relationship between the state and New Mexico tribes and the development of relationships with the education division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other entities that serve American Indian students.