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Sequester Cuts May Hurt Native American Children the Most

The ongoing sequester continues to affect schools nationwide, but Native American students likely will feel those cuts the most, some observers say.

I've been reporting on the across-the-board federal cuts known as sequestration and its effect on rural schools, especially those on or near American Indian reservations. The roughly 5 percent budget reductions were triggered March 1, and it immediately affected Impact Aid, which is federal money that goes to districts to replace property tax revenue lost to federal land.

A new three-part series by Indian Country Today Media Network takes a closer look at what the cuts mean for Native children from birth through college, with stories on the ramifications for prekindergarten, K-12, and postsecondary.

The cuts will directly affect 710 schools and the services provided to about 115,000 Native students, according to the National Indian Education Association. The K-12 story by the Indian Country Today Media Network quotes John Forkenbrock, executive director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, as saying "American Indian kids are the ones who will be hurt the most by cuts to Impact Aid because they are in schools where the highest percentage of dollars come from Impact Aid."

The story gives vivid examples of the reductions schools likely will be forced to make, such as to extracurricular activities, bus routes, and the hiring of teachers.

The state that receives the most Impact Aid is Arizona. Debora Norris, the state's deputy associate superintendent of Native American education and outreach, is quoted as saying: "Native American students are experiencing a large achievement gap at the same time that [state] standards are being raised. As common core is put into effect, there will be more math and science requirements for graduation. All of these things mean increased needs for Native American students."

A recent Hechinger Report story delves into how Native schools are grappling with and preparing for the new Common Core State Standards.

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