A bipartisan bill to update the Johnson-O'Malley Program
for Indian students is inching forward on Capitol Hill.
By a unanimous voice vote, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
, the Johnson-O'Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act, at a business meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Supporters said the bill will ensure more adequate funding for cultural programming
, language classes
, school supplies
, field trips
, career fairs
and countless other initiatives across the nation.
"There can be no more serious task than we have for Indian children than ensuring the quality of their education," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp
(D-North Dakota), the sponsor of S.943, said at the meeting.
The bill requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs
to update its student count for the program. Despite growth in the Indian population in the last two decades, the agency is still basing funding levels on data from 1995
"Braveheart won Best Picture
that year, the Macarena went viral
and Amazon sold its first book
, 22 years ago," noted Sen. Steve Daines
(R-Montana), a co-sponsor of S.943, who said he ventured to Google to find out what was happening way back then.
Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Business Meeting October 4, 2017
The Trump administration "supports the goals of S.943," Tony Dearman, a citizen
of the Cherokee Nation
serves as the director of the Bureau
of Indian Education
, told the committee at a hearing on July 12
for the bill. The agency is still relying on 1995
data because he said not all JOM funding recipients have submitted data for an updated
The 1995 data identified 271,884 eligible students but more recent counts -- the ones that the BIA isn't using -- put the number at 321,273. Educators believe the true number is closer to 1 million.
The bill can now be considered on the Senate
floor. It has not yet been considered in the House
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:Business
Meeting to Consider S. 943
(October 4, 2017)
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