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Rural Round-Up: Preserving Native Languages, Re-Integrating Schools

Montana Proposes Pilot Program to Preserve Native Languages
Montana Senators have gotten behind new legislation that would pay for a $2 million pilot program to preserve the state's Native American tongues.

The state already has a constitutionally mandated Indian Education for All program, which teaches Native American culture in public school classes. About 35 percent of the state's American Indian population doesn't live on reservations, and the majority of the rural state's American Indian students attend public schools.

The National Indian Education Association, which has a substantially rural constituency, is a strong advocate for comprehensive culturally-based curricula, and it has said that could help with Native students' poor achievement and graduation rates.

The new bill would give funds to the state's seven Native American reservations and one other tribe to develop writing, audio-visual, story-telling and language classes, according to the Helena Independent Record in Helena, Mont. The proposal heads to the House, and the state's Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democat, has said he supports it.

Mississippi Residents Fighting to Integrate Schools
Some rural Mississippi residents are fighting against attendance lines that they say have produced two mostly segregated high schools, and they say the quality of the majority minority school is suffering.

School officials say they're doing all they can to improve both schools, but that's not enough for parents who have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

One researcher quoted in the story by the Southern Education Desk says economically and racially segregated schools are bad for students. To improve rural Tate County, as well as the rest of the state and country, efforts need to be made to re-integrate, they say.

The Southern Education Desk is a consortium of public media stations from five Southern states committed to exploring education issues.

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