|1. What is a Tribal Education Department (TED)?||Top ▲|
Federal law generally recognizes that American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes are separate sovereign governments. Tribal Education Departments (TEDs) are agencies of sovereign tribal governments. TEDs are not schools and they are not programs; they are governmental agencies, much like State Departments of Education, also known as State Education Agencies (SEAs).
|2. How many TEDs are there?||Top ▲|
The federal government today recognizes over 560 tribes. It is estimated that over 115 of these federally-recognized tribes have some form of a TED. That is about one fifth (1/5th) of all federally-recognized tribes.
|3. How many tribal students do TEDs serve?||Top ▲|
There are over 500,000 elementary and secondary tribal students nationwide. There are many more tribal pre-schoolers, higher education students, and adult students. Tribal students are in state public schools, tribal schools, federal schools, and private schools. These schools are located on Indian reservations, in urban areas, and in rural areas. It is estimated that TEDs are serving about one third (1/3rd) to one half (1/2) of all tribal students.
|4. What exactly do TEDs do?||Top ▲|
It varies. Some of the smaller TEDs administer a single federal contract or grant program, such as higher education scholarships, adult education, or supplemental K-12 programs. Mid-sized TEDs likely administer several such federal contract or grant programs. Larger TEDs are involved in curriculum development, teacher training, and tribal education program or initiative development and administration, often in conjunction with a higher education institution. A few TEDs are engaged in tribal education regulatory and policy development and administration, research and planning, data collection and analysis, and developing academic standards and student progress assessments and testing.
|5. Does Federal law acknowledge TEDs?||Top ▲|
Yes. In the 1988 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, Congress stated that it envisioned TEDs to be "Facilitating tribal control in all education programs and matters, developing coordinated education programs, and developing tribal education policies and tribal education standards," and Congress authorized federal appropriations for TEDs through the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, Congress stated that it envisioned TEDs to be "Coordinating all education programs operated by tribes or within tribal territorial jurisdiction, developing education codes for schools within tribal territorial jurisdiction, and providing support services and technical assistance to schools serving tribal children," and Congress authorized federal appropriations for TEDs through the U.S. Department of Education.
Both of these authorizations are retained in the 2001 reauthorization of the ESEA, also known as "No Child Left Behind (NCLB)." The BIA appropriation authorization is in Title X, Section 1140 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 2020). The Department of Education authorization is in Title VII, Section 7135 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 7455).
In addition to the appropriations authorizations, TEDs are mentioned at least another ten times in NCLB, mostly in Titles I, III, and X.
|6. Why doesn't Congress fund TEDs?||Top ▲|
Good question. Although the appropriations authorizations have been the law since 1988 and 1994, Congress has never appropriated funds for TEDs. The main reason is that only once has a President's Proposed Budget to Congress requested direct funding for TEDs. In FY '96, the President asked for $500,000 for TEDs through the U.S. Department of the Interior. Congress did not make the appropriation. In times of constricted federal spending for domestic programs, it is very difficult to get funding for "newly authorized" items such as TEDs.
|7. Do State laws acknowledge TEDs?||Top ▲|
At least three states now have laws acknowledging the role of TEDs in state public school education systems: Wisconsin (1995), Montana (1999), and New Mexico (2003). This is remarkable, considering that no federal law requires states to acknowledge TEDs. You can view synopses and the actual text of these laws at www.tedna.org.
| 8. What is the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly?||Top ▲|
The Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA) is a new, non-profit membership organization for TEDs. Founded in 2003 through one-time contracts from the U.S. Department of Education to the Native American Rights Fund, TEDNA now has thirty (30) federally-recognized TEDs as members, and an elected nine-member (9) Board of Directors. TEDNA operates pursuant to organizational bylaws, and it has a mission statement and a web site at www.tedna.org.
| 9. What does TEDNA do for TEDs?||Top ▲|
TEDNA engages in advocacy at the national level, sponsors four National TED Forums every year around the country, and provides information and some direct training for TEDs. On specific activities and projects, TEDNA partners with many organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Education Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Educational Testing Service.
|10. What are TEDNA's priorities?||Top ▲|
TEDNA's main priority at this time is to raise sufficient funding to sustain its own operational expenses including the hiring of staff and the acquisition of office space. TEDNA's national advocacy priorities include obtaining direct federal funding for TEDs, fixing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 so that TEDs can receive personally identifiable student data and records kept by state public schools on tribal students without advance parental or student consent, and strengthening the TED provisions in the next reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB to increase tribal governance over education. TEDNA very much wants to offer its members and all TEDs direct training and informational models that can be used/adapted to help TEDs serve federal agencies, SEAs, school districts, schools, and parents and communities to help tribal students succeed in whatever educational systems serve them and according to their potential.