PRESS RELEASE
NIEA Issues Statement on Trump Administration Budget
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  CONTACT
May 23, 2017                                                               Leah Salgado, lsalgado@niea.org 

Washington, D.C. National Indian Education Association President Yatibaey Evans issues the following statement regarding President Trump's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.

"The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) has spent nearly 50 years holding the Federal government accountable for fulfilling the federal trust responsibility of Native education. We have worked with Members of Congress and Administrations from both parties throughout our history to meet this responsibility. The FY 2018 budget released today by the Trump administration falls woefully short. We can and we must do better.

This budget is a stark departure from the FY 2017 Appropriations bill that President Trump signed just a few short weeks ago. The proposed cuts put forward do not only represent a savings in costs- if passed these cuts would cause real harm to educational opportunities for Native students across the country. We look forward to working with our allies in Congress, tribal leaders, and our membership to prevent these cuts and move beyond this shortsighted proposal.

There are five parts of the proposed budget that warrant immediate concern:
  • Bureau of Indian Education schools were hit particularly hard-funding for construction was temporarily suspended, while the overall budget for BIE schools was decreased by $64.4 million to a new proposed budget of $786.4 million. BIE schools and students often face the greatest challenges; targeting them for substantial cuts is unconscionable.
  • The proposed budget eliminates $65 million in funding for the two programs that serve Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. These proposed cuts run directly counter to the federal trust responsibility and impacts the education of thousands of Native students. The finalized budget must fully fund these programs. We cannot and we will not allow these cuts to pass.
  • Proposed deep cuts to the Perkins Loan Program- $782 million-would disproportionately impact Native students. This program is vital for Native students, who disproportionately bear the burdens of poverty, who pursue a college education. This proposed cut creates an additional barrier for Native students by further restricting funds and opportunities to pay for college.
  • Eliminates $1.2 billion in funding for after school programs by cutting 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Native students are greatly benefited by these programs. Native students need access to the services provided by after school programs, including healthy food, tutoring services, and a safe and secure environment for after-school care. Eliminating these programs directly undermines Native students.  
  • Eliminates $2.2 billion in state grants that support effective instruction, which includes professional development opportunities and class-size reduction programs. This elimination fails Native students by curtailing the ability of educators to be prepared and given the resources needed to be effective teachers. Our students can only be as strong as our teachers are, by refusing to invest in them, we only set ourselves up for failure.
 
The proposed Budget includes significant funding for school choice. NIEA is not opposed to choice, as long as it is structured to best serve Native students-we have always supported opportunities for tribal control of Native education and stand ready to do so now. For choice to work in Indian Country, tribes and Native communities must be engaged in meaningfully consultation, we look forward to these opportunities. School choice, however, must be implemented in a way that does not harm Native students and our existing school systems. We are concerned that the proposed budget would harm both.

NIEA looks forward to working with tribal leaders, Native educators, and Native communities to advocate for the Fiscal Year 2018 funding our students deserve." 

About The National Indian Education Association (NIEA)
NIEA is the Nation's most inclusive advocacy organization advancing comprehensive culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on education, NIEA adheres to the organization's founding principles- to convene educators to explore ways to improve schools and the educational systems serving Native children; to promote the maintenance and continued development of language and cultural programs; and to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and decision makers. For more information visit www.niea.org.
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