Do teachers need to be "certified" in Indian Education?
Fellow teachers and I have "heard" that for the 06-07 school year or the 07-08 year that ALL teachers will need to be certified in teaching Indian Education. Is this true? Will we need to have a certain certificate saying this, or will we (Elementary Teachers) only need our current certificates and be fine?
Teachers do not have to be certified in Indian Education. In fact, there is no such thing as a certification in Indian Education. All teachers can maintain their own current certificates and continue teaching in their current position, grade levels, and content areas. However, Indian history and contemporary issues do have to be integrated into all content areas at every grade level. Indian Education for All is a constitutionally based education initiative that schools and educators are now grappling. It does, however, have a long history in Montana. In 1972, Montana provided in Article X, Section 1(2), of the Montana Constitution that: "The State recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indian and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity." The Program Foundation Standards, which are standards that establish global learner goals in all subject areas, state: "Incorporate in all curricular programs the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and other cultural groups." Accreditation Standard 10.55.603(4) states that "In all program area standards and content and performance standards, the school district shall: (b) review curriculum to ensure the inclusion of the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians[.] Content and performance standards are synonymous with "all grade levels and all teachers/classrooms." 10.55.701 (3), 100.55.803 (2), and 10.55.803 (2). Additionally, in 1995, the Montana Legislature adopted Senate Joint Resolution No. 11, directing the committee on Indian Affairs to study issues relating to the implementation of the Article X, Section 1(2) principles. The committee's conclusion included the following: 1. The intent of Article X, section 1, subsection (2), of the Montana Constitution is for all public schools to develop appropriate policies and programs to recognize and preserve the value of the American Indian culture and traditions. 2. Many public schools do not provide any instruction or sponsor any activities relating to Indian history and culture. 3. Very few school districts require any specific training in Indian studies for their certified personnel, nor do they provide such instruction through inservice training. . . . In 1999, the Legislature enacted Mont. Code Ann. 20-1-501 -- the Indian Education for All Act. "The law incorporates mandates that are intended to give effect to the constitutional principles of subsection (2) of Article X, section 1." In 2005, the Montana Quality Education Coalition sued the State of Montana asserting that its educational funding scheme was unconstitutional. According to the findings of fact, which the Montana Supreme Court adopted wholeheartedly the District Court's findings and conclusions concerning Indian Education for All. The District Court noted: "To have any meaning or effect, the Indian Education for All Act requires resources and programs, which, in turn, require funding. Despite this, the legislature has provided no funding. . . . In reality, the State appears to be defenseless on Plaintiff's claim that Article X, Section 1(2) of the Montana Constitution has not been implemented by the State despite the constitution's direction to do so." Additionally, the Supreme Court noted that "the accreditation standards establish a minimum upon which quality education can be built but do not fully define either the constitutional rights of students or the constitutional responsibilities of the State of Montana for funding its public elementary and secondary schools." The Court then told the Legislature -- define quality, then fund it. The Legislature met and discussed "quality education" and the identifying the educationally relevant factors on which the basic system is established. The Legislature said that "a basic system of free quality public elementary and secondary schools means: (a) the educational program specified by the accreditation standards . . . which represent the minimum standards upon which a basis system of free quality public elementary and secondary schools is built . . . (c) educational programs to implement the provisions of Article X, section 1(2), of the Montana constitution and Title 20, chapter 1, part 5, through development of curricula designed to integrate the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians into the curricula, with particular emphasis on Montana Indians. . . . " Then the special session met and provided the funding to implement their definition of quality, which includes Indian Education for All. In conclusion, Indian content should be integrated in all areas, in all classrooms, in all content, in all assessments, in all professional development programs, and in all teacher education programs. The OPI promotes that school districts take small bites of the apple. This implementation process is a big change that will take time -- but -- we have plenty of time in education. In fact, that is all we have sometimes. If you have other questions about including American Indian content into your classroom lessons and assessments, please contact Mike Jetty, the Indian Education Specialist who focuses on implementing IEFA. His contact information is: firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 444-0720. Also, check out the OPI Indian Education website as it contains many resources for teachers to assist in this implementation process.
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