Fri Oct 30th, 2015
Robert L. Ortiz
The Southern Ute Drum
Tags: Colorado Department of Education, Ignacio School District Board, IPP meeting, Lucinda Cloud, Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Clement J. Frost, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council Chairman Issac Suina, Tribal Education Department
“Where are the parents? Why is it that there is a lack of parent participation at these IPP meetings? If you can answer that, you can answer a lot of questions.”
A statement made by Robert “Booby” Sherman, Ignacio School District Board member at the annual Indian Policies and Procedures (IPP) meeting hosted by the Ignacio School District, Tuesday evening at the Ignacio School District Administration Building.
Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Clement J. Frost stated the Tribal Council needed to become more involved by bringing the lack of parent participation before the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.
The lack of parent involvement wanes as the student gets older, moving up in grade levels. The expectation that the student gets older and gains more responsibility becomes more obvious.
Parent involvement is obviously more prevalent in the younger grade levels.
However the numbers are strikingly clear, the majority of students are Native American in the Ignacio School District.
Numbers from the 2014-2015 IPP Report show Native American students enrolled in the Ignacio School District: 66 students in elementary; 51 in the middle school; and 60 in the high school.
Of these numbers the majority of the students, attendance seems to be the main reason these students are on the “down list”. The IPP Report shows a slight increase in total percentage of attendance in the elementary school of 91.70% in 2011 to 91.88% in 2014, and a peak of 94.13% in 2013.
The numbers for attendance in the middle and high Schools are less favorable, according the IPP Report. In the Middle School, Native American students have the lowest percentile of attendance of 86.92%, and 81.23% in the high school of all students.
The “down list” reflects these numbers as the majority of these students are on the list for attendance. Which brings up back to … who’s responsible for the students being on the list?
Ultimately it’s the parents/guardians of the students to get the kids to school, if they are not riding the bus, however who’s responsible for keeping the students in school?
Discipline and safety were also brought up during the IPP meeting.
Southern Ute tribal member and parent of students in the Ignacio School District, Lucinda Cloud said, “although the new high school is nice, and the entrance has a lot of windows, it seems harder to get into the High School now, it doesn’t feel welcoming.”
Ignacio Superintendent of Schools, Rocco Fuschetto said, “our point of concern that was brought to our attention last year was security.”
Fuschetto continued by saying, “That’s why the high school is secured in this way, it’s a shame we have to be so secure, I wish we didn’t have to, but we need to keep the kids safe.”
As far as discipline goes, Fuschetto stated there is a need of parent support when it comes to discipline.
“We have the kids in our building up to seven hours a day. We cannot handle every situation. The kids see what happens at home,” Fuschetto said. “Parents need to take responsibility of their children when it comes to disciplining the students. We are doing our best, we need the support of the parents when disciplining the student, not running to the papers or pressing charges. Parents need to support our teachers.”
Mr. Ponch Garcia is now the Dean of Students, he spends his day in all the schools and classrooms. Supporting both students and teachers. The students also now have a new Student Support Center. These are a few ways the schools are adding more support for the student.
Southern Ute Education Director La Titia Taylor spoke of some things the Tribal Education Department is doing to aid in supporting the students.
“We have continued to offer tutoring to students who need it. We also advocate for the families when working with the Southern Ute Social Services and with “Wellness Court” to improve attendance,” Taylor said. “The collaboration between the school district and the tribe continues through conversations with students through counseling, aiding in attendance and with grades.”
Attendance is seen as an issue of the Native American students, and only through parent input and involvement can this be alleviated. “How can I [as a parent] help my student?
Ninety-five percent of the attendance issues were lowered by family concentration, by connection with those families.
“We need to take a more pro-active stance by engaging the students at a lower grade level, at the elementary level,” Taylor said.
However, parent involvement is crucial when asking for Federal monies for the Native American students with the school district.
Total numbers of returned Impact Aide Surveys sent are very low. Of the 122 sent out in the Primary (K-5) grade levels only six were returned. And of the 161 surveys sent out in the Secondary (6-12) grade levels only 5 were sent back.
These numbers reflect the lack of interest in the education of Native American students within the Ignacio School District when speaking of monies to be used within the school.
Former Johnson O’Malley board member, Tamera Reynolds, stated she does not have any children enrolled in the Ignacio School District, but is very interested in the district as her children may transition into the public school system in the future, and asked if the school’s rating has improved.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) gave the Ignacio School District a very low rating last year; the rating is based on test scores.
Ignacio School District Administrator, Dr. Kathy Pokorney said the test scores from last year have not even been received yet.
The ratings for this year have been put on hold this year. Roderick added, “The state has put a hold on the ratings this year, not just in Ignacio but a state-wide hold,” he said.
Another point of concern was the transition of the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy (SUIMA) students into the Ignacio public schools.
Tests scores are lower for these students as pointed out by Roderick.
“The tests are written sequential, the State regulates Standardized Testing, they are not aware of the cultural differences in learning,” he said.
Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council Chairman Issac Suina asked if the school district can bring Ute Language into the middle school so that students transitioning into public schools don’t have to skip a year of speaking Ute.
Ute Language is taught and spoken every day in SUIMA. Dr. Stacey Oberly teaches the Ute Language class in the Ignacio schools.
Suina also asked about the addition of orchestra to the schools music curriculum.
“With the budget so tight, we do see the importance of music in the schools, we have added another music teacher, with the two teachers now doing the work of three teachers in the music department,” Roderick pointed out.
Chairman Frost closed the evening by stating he does want to see the Ute Language continuing into the middle school, and that the education committee meet with the Tribal Council to become familiar with them and encourage the continued support of the collaboration between the school district and Tribal Council.
He offered this to the parents.
“How often do we tell our children we are proud of what they are doing, and that they are doing the best they can?”
“We have a lack of parent involvement to discuss IPP issues. We as leaders need to encourage our new teachers. Education is never ending, although we have different ways of teaching, we must continue to change. To encourage our students to do the best that they can,” Frost said.