Jodi Rave: Montana panel cuts Indian education budget

"Indian education proponents held a press conference Tuesday to protest a legislative panel's vote to nix the state's entire budget for Montana's Indian Education Office this spring.

A joint Appropriations Education Subcommittee voted on party lines last Thursday to cut $2.9 million from the Office of Public Instruction's Indian Education Office.

'We had a great sense of hope but that was shattered last Thursday,' said Sen. Carol Juneau, D-Browning, who sponsored the Indian Education for All Act in 1998.

The 1972 state constitution mandates teaching K-12 students about American Indian history, but it took three decades to get the state Legislature to agree to help pay for schools to teach students about Indians.

'It took us from 1972 to 2005 to do the right thing for this program,' said Sen. Carol Williams, D-Missoula, who spoke at the press conference. 'This action from the House committee is a giant, giant step backward from where we started in 2005. It's shameful what happened. We need to go back and refund that money, and we need to be putting additional money into Indian Education for All.'"

Get the Story:
Indian ed backers protest panel's vote (The Missoulian 2/7)

Related Story:
Lawmakers criticize Indian education cuts (The Great Falls Tribune 2/7)

Relevant Links:
Big Horn Teacher Projects - http://www.msubillings.edu/bighornteacherproj
Montana Indian Education Association - http://www.mtiea.org
Montana Office of Public Instruction - http://www.opi.state.mt.us

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