March 25th, 2017
The recent downward trend of federal and state school funding has deeply impacted our nation’s schools, and none more so than those already struggling with other socio-economic barriers. But in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation has recently granted a record $5M in private funding for 107 northeastern Oklahoma school districts.
The funds come primarily from the CN’s car registration program, which issues tags to Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2015, the program expanded its sales to all CN members, including those living outside of tribal lands, which yielded a large increase in revenue. A whopping 38% of those sales are granted to educational funding, which has brought unprecedented opportunity to tribal schools.
Dr. Clark Ogilvie, superintendent of Owassa Public Schools, sees great potential for the future. The CN funding, he states, will keep previously threatened Indian education programs, special activities, and cultural events from being defunded and eliminated by budget cuts. Additionally, the funds can be used to enable middle schoolers to stay after school and provide tutoring to younger kids, which promotes a sense of leadership and community in children.
Each school district has discretion over how funds are used. Top priorities are underfunded specialized programs, additional teacher salaries, and much-needed basic school supplies. Classrooms will be able to incorporate modern technology such as Chromebooks and other digital educational tools. Some money will also be allocated to repairing deteriorated infrastructure, such as leaking roofs or broken bathroom facilities.
This ingenious car registration funding strategy has supplied almost $45M in revenue to Cherokee area Oklahoma’s schools since 2002, and has done much to repair the fracture created by the nation’s educational funding crisis. While the plan benefits all students in attendance in those school districts, it is the 30,000 Cherokee students, many of whom live below the poverty line, who reap the greatest reward.
Categories: Cherokee Nation, Native American, Native American Culture