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Native-Language Immersion Schools Raise NCLB Concerns

For an example of how federal education policies can play out at cross-purposes in schools of small scale, read Mary Ann Zehr's story about how provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act are hurdles to native-language immersion schools in rural states.

She writes that three founders of such schools—found primarily in small, rural locales—say NCLB conflicts with another federal law, the Native American Languages Act of 1990.

Schools serving Native American students are among the nation's smallest and most geographically isolated. Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma, respectively, have the highest numbers of Native American students, according to Rural Matters 2009, a statistical look at America's rural schools compiled by the Rural School and Community Trust.

The unintended or negative consequences of federal policies are a frequent complaint from rural advocates.

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