- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a gathering of the National Congress of American Indians on Wednesday that native communities should pursue school choice, noting the high federal costs to educate Indian children and low performance at schools.

“And to think all Native American students are in the only sector of education in which the federal government has complete control,” Mrs. DeVos said at the Capitol Hill Hilton after ticking off low graduation rates and literacy scores for Indian students. “Washington spends the most taxpayer money here … yet it is yielding the worst results and outcomes.”

Mrs. DeVos said that, on average, the federal government spends $20,000 per American Indian child versus only $13,000 per non-Indian child.

Unlike the vast majority of schools across the country, schools on tribal lands often cannot generate local tax dollars to pay for teachers and facilities.

Moreover, nation-to-nation treaties between the U.S. government and many tribes often guaranteed providing education in exchange for millions of acres of ceded land.

“That’s why this administration is working to get government out of your way,” Mrs. Devos said, emphasizing “local control.”

In a recent visit to Alaska, Mrs. DeVos met with village elders interested in developing educational programs built around heritage and culture and language, she said. The education secretary also spoke about potential opportunities of community colleges pairing with local science and engineering employers to develop energy resources.

“I think Indian land comprises 5% of the land but contains an estimated 10% of all our energy resources,” Mrs. DeVos said.

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