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In Minnesota, a Call for More Attention to Needs of Native Students

In Rochester, Minn., a group of parents are pushing for the city's 18,000-student district to provide trainings to teachers on American Indian education and to communicate more about the needs and progress of American Indian students. 

A 2016 law requires districts with ten or more American Indian students to have parent committees that can make recommendations about curriculum and other educational programs related to the needs of those students.

The Post Bulletin reports that the committee of parents in the southern Minnesota city is concerned about the relatively low academic achievement of American Indian students in the district. The parents connected with parent committees in other parts of the state and agreed that schools in the state need to address misconceptions about American Indian students, improve student and parent engagement, and recognize all students' achievements.

The Post Bulletin quotes Valerie Guimaraes, one of the members of the parent committee: "We're raising the alarm, but we're also putting forth solutions." 

The Rochester district isn't required by law to follow the parents' suggestions, the Post Bulletin reports, and the district hired an American Indian liaison to help support students academically and to "expose them to a curriculum that's focused on their heritage" two years ago. But if it does, it won't be the first place to focus more on the needs of American Indian students in recent years. The University of Washington recently introduced a program focused on preparing teachers to understand more about and work more effectively with native students. 

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