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Arne Duncan Apologizes to Native Community for Sequestration Impact

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan apologized last week for the disproportionate effect on Native American communities from the federal budget cuts under sequestration.

He made the apology while speaking to a crowd of educators, students, and tribal leaders at the Wyoming Native American Education Conference, according to a story in The Casper Star-Tribune.

It's no secret that the across-the-board federal cuts known as the sequestration have been particularly difficult for schools receiving federal Impact Aid. The bulk of the top 25 districts nationally that rely on those funds are on or near American Indian reservations, which often are rural communities. The National Indian Education Association has said those cuts directly affected 710 schools and the services to about 115,000 Native students

Duncan told his Native American audience that the sequester was the "height of dysfunction in Washington," and that it was impossible to break the cycle of poverty without a world-class education.

The quality of Native American students' education has been a major concern for the NIEA, which has described it as in crisis. Duncan said improving high school graduation rates in a rigorous, culturally appropriate classroom was an immediate goal.

Duncan was joined at the Wind River Indian Reservation by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who oversees both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education. White House staff called it the first meeting in history between the two heads of those particular departments to discuss Native American education, according to the article.

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