Report: Less than 50% of Native Americans graduate high school
I am sitting here in awe of new research coming out of UCLA that finds less than 50 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students from the Pacific and Northwestern regions of the United States graduate high school.
I’ve been reporting on Indian education issues for about a decade now. We always knew the numbers were bad. But quantifiable data involving Indian populations is always hard to come by. This new data is just amazing.
The report, by the institution’s Civil Rights Project, is titled “The Dropout/Graduation Crisis among American Indians and Alaska Native Students: Failure to Respond Places the Future of Native People At Risk.”
It found that graduation rates for American Indian and Alaska Native students in 12 states studied ranged from 30.4 percent to 63.8 percent, with an average of 46.6 percent.
To put that number in perspective, the overall non-Native student graduation rates in the studied states ranged from 54.1 percent to 79.2 percent, with an average of 71.4 percent.
Graduation rates for Indians were lower than for all other racial and ethnic groups.
Some reasons cited by the researchers: ”Student level factors specific to American Indian and Alaska Native students include feeling ‘pushed out’ of schools, poor quality of student-teacher relationships, lack of parental support, peer pressure, distance from school, difficulty with classes, poor attendance, legal problems and language barriers, among other factors.”
The study recommends that educators and policymakers “review and revise school policies and avoid practices that exclude, demean, embarrass, harass or alienate Native students.”
I have another suggestion. More people need to know about the crisis, which is why I share it with you today. This is not a pithy issue. I can’t think of fun ways to highlight it. It is just sobering information unto itself that needs to be understood — and acted on — far and wide.