Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

An Opportunity for All

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

An Opportunity for All

Article excerpt

IMPLEMENTATION of Indian Education for All (IEFA) is long overdue, and it must be a priority for Montana schools. In response to the ruling of the Montana Supreme Court, the Montana legislature provided the funding needed to initiate a full-scale implementation of the constitutional provision. The heritage of the American Indian is an essential part of Montana's history, but students, parents, and teachers know little or nothing about the American Indian tribes and how Indian culture has influenced the history of our state. Indians and non-Indians live together in the same communities, yet many of us lack an understanding and appreciation of American Indian culture. The public schools must incorporate lessons and enriching programs to foster increased understanding and appreciation on the part of the entire school community. Students also need to appreciate how the future of Montana will embrace the unique contributions of American Indian beliefs, customs, and quality of life so that the lessons can be passed on to future generations.

Indian Education for All should be integrated into all content areas and grade levels in K-12 school systems. It should become an active part of learning in all classrooms across the state throughout the school year. Through effective curriculum integration, the essential learning outcomes associated with IEFA will be embedded into instruction along with the other Montana content standards. Age-appropriate lessons incorporating the heritage of American Indians will add relevance and value to instruction in the different content areas.

High-quality professional development for Montana educators must be one of the top priorities if we are to implement IEFA effectively. Teachers are eager to learn about American Indian history and culture so that they can incorporate the curricular expectations into their units of study. To oversee the implementation of the law in the Helena Public Schools district, we have formed an advisory committee that includes educators, representatives from the Helena Indian Alliance, and members of the Helena community. …

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