PRESS RELEASE - October 14, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Tribes, SDE to Meet October 22 in Taos at Government-to-Government Meeting

(Santa Fe, NM)-- Representatives of the New Mexico State Department of Education (SDE) will meet with 22 Indian tribal leaders at the Semiannual Government-to-Government Meeting on Wednesday, October 22 at the Taos Convention Center, located at 120 Civic Plaza Drive in Taos. Participants will focus on legislative progress, the 2004 legislative session and plans to improve education for American Indian students who are attending public schools. The meeting is being hosted by the Taos Municipal Schools.

The government-to-government meetings are a result of the New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council’s desire to increase direct involvement and partnership with Indian tribes regarding the educational needs of Indian students. The New Mexico State Board of Education (SBE) and SDE have been gathering information since June 2000 on effective strategies and uses of resources to increase Indian students’ academic achievement.

“The semiannual meetings between tribal and state leaders provide an opportunity for partnerships and the direct involvement of tribes in meeting the educational needs of Indian students. Collectively, we are seeking the most effective strategies and use of resources to increase academic achievement,” said Roz Carroll, general manager of the SDE’s Division of Indian Education Services.

At the April 2003 meeting, participants identified the following critical next steps: working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and tribes on issues like alternative assessments, languages need to be written to assist with learning and the need to work together through partnerships, etc.

A sentiment expressed by one of the tribal leaders at the last government-to-government meeting is that many schools with Native American populations are in corrective action because of a “cookie cutter” approach to learning. “We need to provide Indian students with strong academics and encourage them to pursue higher education, but we also need to address vocational areas, military options and our culture,” the leader said.

At the October meeting, SDE staff will present highlights from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and HB 212, Public School Reform, signed into law in 2003. A legislative review will be presented, including a new SBE rule adopted in August providing for certification in native language and culture.