Today Governor Brad Henry opened the 52nd Oklahoma Legislative Session with the annual State of the State Address. Topping the concerns this legislative session is of course the budget shortfall and the economic “crisis”. The State of Oklahoma is facing a $1 Billion shortage in funding and is faced with cutting funding for agencies across the board. Usually the services to the poor and needy are the hardest hit, hopefully that will not be the case this year. Governor Henry also addressed the need for education and especially Early Childhood education. A change is needed in education more than anywhere in the lives of the American Indian children and youth attending public schools.
This 52nd legislative session, Oklahoma State Representative Ann Coody, from Comanche County has authored HB 2929, the “Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education Act”. It reads in part:
“The purpose of the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education Act is to recognize the unique relationship that Oklahoma enjoys with the Indian tribes located within the state and how Native Americans and Indian tribes play a pivotal role in the educational system of the state in light of this special relationship. The further purpose of the act is to establish the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education. The purpose of creating the Council is to promote equitable and culturally relevant learning environments, educational opportunities and instructional material for Native American students enrolled in the public schools of the state. Because of the number of Native American students enrolled in public schools in the state, this objective will positively affect the educational success of all public school students and encourage further government-to-government cooperation between the State of Oklahoma and the sovereign Indian tribes located in Oklahoma.”
“A. There is hereby created the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education.
B. The Council shall:
1. Advise the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction in educational matters affecting the education of Native American students;
2. Promote equal educational opportunity and improve the quality of education provided to Native American students throughout the state;
3. Advocate for Native American students in the state; and
4. Monitor and evaluate how the public education system of the state impacts Native American students.
C. The Council shall be composed of seventeen (17) members as follows:
1. Five members who shall represent an Indian tribe in the state, appointed by the Governor from a list of nominations submitted by the different Indian tribes in the state;
2. Four members who shall represent the tribal education departments of an Indian tribe in the state, appointed by the Governor from a list of nominations submitted by the different Indian tribes in the state;
3. One member who shall represent the Oklahoma Council on Indian Education, appointed by the Governor;
4. Two members who shall represent two different statewide organizations representing public school teachers, appointed by the Governor;
5. One member who shall represent Oklahoma tribal colleges, appointed by the Chancellor of Higher Education;
6. The Director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority or designee;
7. The Chancellor of Higher Education, or designee;
8. The Director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, or designee; and
9. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, or designee.
D. Appointments to the Council shall be made by September 1, 2010……..”
First thank you Representative Coody for introducing this bill in the legislature, it is greatly appreciated. Readers should express their appreciation and support by e-mailing Representative Coody at [email protected] or calling her at (405) 557-7398. Second readers must vocalize their support for this bill and keep on vocalizing it through out the legislative session to their elected officials and members of the Native American Caucus. Even though there is a financial crisis and budget shortages are causing cuts in spending, this is one area that is so desperately needed an exception must be made. But the only way it will get any attention is if the legislators see that it has been noticed and is wanted. So, citizens of the state of Oklahoma unite and help bring this bill to the forefront of legislators for the children. It is necessary it is needed it is time. mvto
Find your legislators: http://www.capitolc onnect.com/ oklahoma/ default.aspx
The Native American Caucus Members: http://www.ok. gov/oiac/ State-Tribal_ Relations/ Caucus_Leadershi p/
http://ok.gov/ oiac/State- Tribal_Relations /Caucus_Members/ index.html
Full text of the act is here: http://webserver1. lsb.state. ok.us/2009- 10HB/HB2929_ int.rtf
The transcript of Governor Brad Henry’s full 2010 State of the State Address can be found here: http://www.stateline.org/live/details/speech?contentId=456706