Native American Grant Proposal | VideoJessica Roose | 1/21/2013
Just days into the 63rd legislative session, Chairman Richard McCloud of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa was at the capitol to let lawmakers know about the needs facing Native Americans on the reservations. Lawmakers have only completed nine days of the session and they are already talking about what they can do to help.
One bill, if passed, would help to identify and offer support to at-risk Native American students.
"We can look at a lot of statistics. You know, suicides, broken homes, drug abuse and so on. It`s too bad that it gets associated that way on some of the reservations. So we`re trying to get ahead of that a little bit," said Representative Kenton Onstad (D) of Parshall.
The bill would leave it up to Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kirsten Baesler, to implement. She says it wouldn`t be a one size fits all approach. "The faith-based agencies located in the community, the after school programs located in the community, would develop ideas that would work specifically for their community makeup. We left it up to a lot of local control, for them to develop ideas of what would work best for them."
In some communities it might mean counseling for those students, or even tutoring or providing an extra meal to those who come from low income households.
"I don`t think it`s an interfering kind of measure. I think it will help bring people together so that the student at risk is able to more aptly address his or her performance," said United Tribes Technical College President David Gipp.
The bill calls for the legislature to appropriate $500,000 to fund the pilot program for the biennium.
"Is it adequate? Probably not, to get it started and then to show the success of the program it`s a good start," says Onstad.
"I hope that they do consider fully that this is an opportunity for them to help provide assistance to our neediest group of people and I think that, that is a good role that the government should play," says Baesler.
The bill was on the House floor schedule on Friday but was not heard before the chamber recessed. It will likely be brought up for discussion next week.
Baesler says at risk students can be identified by a variety of factors that include attendance, home life and performance.