An impassioned Nicky Buck urged fellow Red Wing School Board members to start meeting Native American students’ needs.
The board met on April 19 and approved a response to the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee’s (AIPAC) findings presented March 8. The AIPAC issued a resolution of non-concurrence, which means that committee members determined the district has not been meeting American Indian students’ needs as required under state law.
“The district did fail me by not setting up things for me to learn the way that I learn with my culture, my traditions and my language,” Buck said. “And now, as I'm watching that next generation come up -- you know, like I said -- I pulled my own kids from the school so I can engulf them with their culture, traditions and language so that way when they get in that outside world that they're not struggling to survive. So I really appreciate everybody's time and effort into this.”
Buck started her first board term in January. She is a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community, but the district also has Native American students who are members of other tribes.
The board formed an ad hoc committee that included Board members Buck, Holly Tauer and Arlen Diercks. They reviewed Superintendent Karsten Anderson’s draft response before bringing it to the full board for approval.
“This is the framework for a tremendous amount of conversation and planning and financial decision making to go forward,” Tauer said. “So I feel like the initial framework that Karsten put together I think should suffice. But again, we're open to feedback.”
The summary recommendations and the district’s responses are:
Recommendation 1: Provide a written account of all funds available to the Red Wing Public Schools for or as a result of American Indian children being enrolled.
When requested, the district will provide funding information, including budgets, grants and revenue, to the AIPAC for programs generating revenue based on how many American Indian students are enrolled. The district will also provide funding information for any other programs when requested.
Recommendation 2: Provide diversity/anti-bias training for all staff.
The district will provide diversity/anti-bias training for all employees during opening in-service week for the next three years. After the three years are over, the district will work with stakeholders to understand what equity-related training should be available for staff.
Recommendation 3: Establish a plan to have American Indian teachers by the 2021-2022 school year. At the very least, establish working relationships with input from American Indian community members in all academic areas.
The district will create and use a plan to actively recruit American Indian teachers and staff members for open positions. The district will also work with the AIPAC to review curriculum offerings and standards.
Recommendation 4: Create for-credit classes at the high school which include native culture, history and language.
The district is now offering a course titled “Native Literature” for grades 11 and 12. The course will have an overview of indigenous literature from all over the world. The district also applied for a grant to be able to offer a Dakota language and culture teacher starting the 2022-2023 fiscal school year. The position will be for four years.
Recommendation 5: Work with the AIPAC in writing and managing grants available to American Indian students within RWPS.
The district will review grant opportunities for American Indian students with the AIPAC. If they both agree to apply for a grant, the district will provide resources to help with the process.
“I want to thank once again the parent committee for reviewing our educational programming and coming up with these recommendations,” the superintendent said. “I think it's a good step in the process. I feel really good about our response and we want continued dialogue with the parent committee as well as others to provide the best program.”