- The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are cementing their partnership and commitment to Native students by signing a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations. NIEA, founded in 1969, is the only organization advocating for improved educational opportunities to enable all Native students to thrive in the classroom and beyond. CCSSO, founded in 1927, is the national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization comprised of the public officials who lead departments of elementary and secondary education in the United States.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan education bill passed through congress and signed by President Obama in 2015, requires state and local education agencies to engage in meaningful consultation with tribes on education policies that impact Native students within their state. This legislation and the MOU usher in a new era for Native education that CCSSO and NIEA are embracing. Through the MOU, NIEA and CCSSO have agreed to
collaborate in assisting state leadership in three key areas: improving tribal, state, and district consultation; assisting tribes and states in building upon the successful state tribal partnership program; and developing best practices and guidelines for data sharing agreements between tribes and states.
NIEA President Yatibaey Evans said, "It is hopeful and inspiring following Native American Heritage month that we're able to announce this partnership. By working together, directly with the local and state education agencies that are educating our children, we can create environments that allow our students to succeed. We are thankful that CCSSO has made the education of Native students a priority."
Melody Schopp, President of CCSSO, said, "As Secretary of Education in South Dakota and Board President of CCSSO, I am pleased to coordinate with NIEA in improving academic opportunities for American Indian students. State education leaders welcome this partnership with NIEA as we work to educate all students."
Ahniwake Rose, Executive director of NIEA said, "Our partnership with CCSSO couldn't come at a better time. As states are taking a greater role in education, we're happy to facilitate partnerships between state and local education agencies and Native education advocates."
Chris Minnich, Executive Director of CCSSO said, "State education leaders are committed to improving equitable opportunities in education for all kids. CCSSO is pleased to partner with NIEA over the past year to bring together state and tribal leaders to discuss the Every Student Succeeds Act and how states can better serve American Indian students. Our partnership with NIEA will allow us to continue to support states in closing the American Indian opportunity gap so all kids can graduate ready for college, careers, and life."
For more information on the Every Student Succeeds Act and other resources, please visit NIEA.org and CCSSO.org.