Opinion: Strengthen ties to Alaska Native families
"Alaska Native students have historically had the highest dropout rate and lowest graduation rate of all ethnicities in the Anchorage School District. The latest Anchorage School District Profile of Performance reports a decline in the dropout rate district-wide for all groups except Alaska Native/American Indian and students with disabilities. This past school year, 9.18 percent of Alaska Native students dropped out of school, accounting for 18 percent of the total number of dropouts.

In 2005 and again in 2008, Alaska Native leaders in AFACT asked the School District to focus on two things that could well improve Alaska Native student success: outreach to Alaska Native families and cross-cultural communication training for all school staff.

During months of research leading up to our meeting with the superintendent, we found a vast disconnect between how the School District sees itself and how Alaska Native parents see the schools. Put simply, schools are not seen as welcoming by many Alaska Native families. This has been a multigenerational experience, compounded by nearly 100 years of oftentimes negative relationships with various territorial, federal and local schools in rural and urban areas.

Educators insist that a student is more likely to be successful when his or her parents are actively engaged with the school. Bridging this apparent divide can begin with teachers reaching out to families."

Get the Story:
Susie Delgao: District must forge ties with Native families (The Anchorage Daily News 11/4)

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