Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation designed to improve Native American Education in the United States. The Native Culture, Language, and Access for Success in Schools (Native CLASS) Act provides a comprehensive approach that gives tribal governments more support and greater control of their education system, and incorporates many of the key recommendations that Indian education stakeholders have urged policymakers to put into law.
"I believe that education is the key to a sound future for all our children," said Rep. Baca. "Unfortunately, our education system has not lived up to its obligation in many of our Native American communities, which have some of the highest dropout rates and some of the lowest standardized testing scores. The Native CLASS Act creates a comprehensive education strategy which effectively integrates Native culture and language in education, and increases access to opportunities for students at Tribal Colleges."
The Native CLASS Act was introduced earlier this Congress in the U.S. Senate by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI). The legislation contains a comprehensive set of provisions that address language and culture-based education, local control and parental involvement, teacher training and development, juvenile justice programs, and provides new opportunities for success at Tribal Colleges.
"I thank my colleague in Congress, Senator Daniel Akaka, for his leadership on this critical issue and I am proud to be working with him here on the House side," added Rep. Baca. "The over 700,000 Native American students in the United States deserve an equal opportunity at success. I am hopeful that the comprehensive strategy put forth in the Native CLASS Act will provide the support our Native students and tribal communities need to improve their educational outlook and create more opportunities for success."
Congressman Baca has been an active member of the Native American Caucus in the House of Representatives since first coming to Congress in 1999. In Congress, he has served as lead sponsor of the Native American Heritage Day Resolution, legislation which passed Congress and was signed into law by the President, to recognize the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day.