Published May 25, 2017
DENVER — American Indian College Fund President and CEO Cheryl Crazy Bull issued the following statement with regard to President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s federal budget released this week falls far short of meeting the federal government’s responsibilities with regard to Native education. If this budget were to pass or if portions of the budget pertaining to education pass Congressional review, our federal government would be expressly ensuring that education is no longer a viable path for a better life and a better future for millions of Americans. In addition, our federal government would be blatantly disregarding its federal trust responsibilities derived from the nation to nation relationships rooted in treaties.
Under this proposed budget, indigenous people, who already are severely underserved, would face additional and greater obstacles to education. Without pathways to an affordable higher education our students’ dreams of better lives will die. Native students will no longer be able to access a higher education because the educational resources and social supports they need will no longer be there.
The American Indian College Fund joins the National Indian Education Association in voicing its serious concerns about the published proposed budget cuts, including opposing:
The proposed temporary suspension of construction of new Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools and proposed cuts to over BIE school budget by $64.4 million. BIE schools and students often face the greatest economic and sociological challenges; these substantial cuts are unconscionable.
The proposed elimination of $65 million in funding for two programs that serve Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students runs counter to the federal trust responsibility and jeopardizes these students’ education and futures. The finalized budget must fully fund these programs.
The proposed $782 million cut to the Perkins Loan Program would disproportionately impact Native students by creating additional barriers to a higher education for those who disproportionately suffer from poverty and see higher education as a path to a better future.
The proposed cuts would significantly reduce the Federal Work-Study program, an important source of funding for student employment at TCUs. Many indigenous students, especially those with dependents, rely upon work-study employment to supplement their income.
The elimination of $1.2 billion in after-school program funding at 21st Century Community Learning Centers would hit indigenous students hard. Native students are the most impoverished group in the nation, and rely upon the services provided through these programs to survive (including healthy food, tutoring services, and a safe and secure after-school care environment). Eliminating these programs directly undermines indigenous students’ health, safety, intellectual development, and ability to thrive.
The elimination of $2.2 billion in state grants that support instruction, including teacher professional development opportunities and class-size reduction programs, would also harm indigenous students by limiting educators’ ability to teach effectively to our nation’s most at-risk students. By refusing to invest in our students’ futures, we are saying we are throwing them—and our nation—away, by refusing to invest in the future of our nation.
The American Indian College Fund is asking supporters of equal education to:
Go to our advocacy web site to find their elected officials and contact them immediately and demand they reject the proposed budget cuts to the Department of Education and Department of Interior Indian Education budgets. These proposed cuts would harm our nation. Our nation’s economic competitiveness and security are at risk without investing in education. In addition, these cuts would effectively harm all American students, with students of color and low-income students impacted disproportionately, by limiting access to higher education through grants, student work opportunities, and programs that pave the way to a higher education.