The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) awarded Northern Arizona University (NAU) $1 million to teach culturally responsive education in tribal schools. The grant, awarded at the beginning of last month, will apply to professional development programs and fellowships for tribal educators.
“Believing in the power of teachers and the desire to grow their capacity to write and teach curriculum that is culturally responsive is at the forefront of the Institute for Native-serving Educators (INE)[,]” read NAU’s press release.
One program within INE, the Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators (DINÉ), offers professional development for K-12 tribal teachers developing curriculum. Some of the “culturally responsive education” that comes out of DINÉ includes curriculum units on the equal validity of western medicine and indigenous medicine (categorized as science curriculum), and indigenous religious beliefs of the world’s creation (categorized as health curriculum).
According to NAU research, culturally responsive education seeks to affirm and advance the cultural identity of a student. It stems from the demands of the 1960s Civil Rights movement for accurate representation and inclusion, which later grew into culturally relevant pedagogy. In the context of tribal schools, culturally responsive education means that curriculum should be relevant to the student’s conception of self and community needs within their culture.
Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said that this investment would further the ability of tribal educators to do their work.
“[email protected] is proud to invest in indigenous educators and students,” wrote Hoffman. “This $1 million investment in the Institute for Native-serving Educators at @NAU will expand its partnerships with tribal nations and grow its professional developments and fellowships for tribal educators.”
.@azedschools is proud to invest in indigenous educators and students. This $1 million investment in the Institute for Native-serving Educators at @NAU will expand its partnerships with tribal nations and grow its professional development and fellowships for tribal educators. https://t.co/t9HvuMGbod
— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) June 21, 2021
According to NAU, the funds also position NAU as the leading university for Native Americans to attend.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Northern Arizona University educators” by NAU.