Giving Compass' Take:

• The National Indian Education Association released it's first Native Community Schools handbook that will help charter schools understand how to relate to the cultural needs of Native Indian students. 

• What are other ways that teachers can promote student engagement between native and non-Native Indian students?

• Read about how philanthropy can help Native Americans communities. 

Native American students’ unique needs for too long have been poorly served, but culturally relevant charter schools could help change that. And the federal government is poised to fund their expansion.

A new handbook on how to open and sustain charter schools for these students shows how charters can work with Native communities to make sure their culture and traditions are included in the classroom through challenging coursework.

The National Indian Education Association this month released its first Native Community Schools handbook, “Sovereignty in Education: Creating Culturally Based Charter Schools in Native Communities.” It provides an overview of how to start charter schools with strategies and examples of innovation that fit the academic and cultural needs of Native Indian students. It was funded by the Walton Family Foundation.

“Our communities are capable and able to provide for the education of their citizens – charter schools are one option for them to utilize, and we’re happy to provide them foundational knowledge,” association president Jolene Bowman said in a news release about the handbook. “Our students do best when they see themselves reflected in the classroom and in their curriculum, any opportunity that can make this a reality for them is critical.”

“We face the same problems finding qualified teachers as rural areas, but they are exacerbated in deep Indian country,” she said. The authors of the handbook “are trying to put together best practices for teachers who might be afraid of teaching the wrong thing, who don’t know what subjects are taboo or even that there are certain times of year when you can’t teach certain topics.

Read the full article about Native American schools by Esmeralda Fabian Romero at The 74