WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Indian Education Department's Diné Bizaad & A:shiwi Language Program has received a $249,438 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funding will support three years of instruction of both the Navajo (Diné) and Zuni (A:shiwi) languages in APS schools at the elementary and middle school levels.
Udall and Heinrich led the effort to include the Native American Language Program as part of the Every Students Succeed Act (ESSA), the latest federal education law that overhauled No Child Left Behind and passed in 2015. This critical funding program helps school districts that serve tribal communities create programs to instruct in Native languages to promote their revitalization and maintenance.
"Native language programs build stronger connections between generations of Native families and communities," said Udall. "I'm proud that the funding we helped secure in the Every Student Succeeds Act is being put to good use - strengthening and revitalizing Native languages, which are crucial to promoting higher academic achievement outcomes among Native youth. As the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I will continue to work to ensure that Native students have every opportunity to deepen their connection to Native language and culture while getting an excellent education."
"I've seen firsthand how Native students thrive with an education that focuses on their own traditions, particularly the preservation of Native languages, which is integral to maintaining cultural identity," said Heinrich. "Instruction in Native languages promotes creativity, reduces the achievement gap, boosts high school graduation rates and college enrollment, and yields long-term benefits outside the classroom. That's why I fought so hard to include this funding in the Every Student Succeeds Act. I will never stop believing in the boundless potential of all of New Mexico's children. I will keep fighting for investments in education to build a brighter future for every single one of them."
There are approximately 5,700 Native American students currently enrolled in APS schools. The District's Indian Education Department supports culturally relevant indigenous educational opportunities and engagement with students' parents and tribal communities.
The Every Student Succeeds Act included several provisions to help Native students. The law requires local and state education agencies to consult and partner with tribes on policies impacting Native students. It also supports education programs to train teachers, and offer fellowships for Native students who want to become teachers.
More information on the grant award is available here.