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An Update on Indian Education at Tulsa Public Schools

Our Indian Education program provides critical supports and services to more than 3,000 Native American students representing 68 tribes. We are deeply committed to implementing culturally sustaining curricula, providing after-school tutoring, and affirming and celebrating our students’ Native American heritage and identities while preparing them for success in college and careers.

Over the last four years, we have worked to align our district office team structures to best meet the needs of our school leaders, teachers, and families. Recently, we recommended a district wide reduction in force related to our Budget Redesign effort.  Our goal is to manage our financial challenges while maintaining or even improving our services. One of the teams identified for changes is our Indian Education Office. Our goal is to enhance and maximize direct student services as we manage a decrease in our federal funding.

In the last few weeks, we have had the opportunity to engage with parents, families, students, community members, and local tribal leaders about the proposed changes and – more broadly – about programs and services for Native American students. We’ve received valuable feedback in those conversations. We want to continue learning more about what our Native American community wants and needs for our children. As a result of these community conversations, Superintendent Gist and the Board of Education extended the timeline for the proposed changes to mid-March 2020 to allow us to continue engaging and receiving feedback. This week, we will launch a community survey and plan several meetings to gather further feedback and inform the changes that Superintendent Gist will ultimately recommend to the Board. During the month of February, we will:

  • Conduct a parent, family, and community survey to collect feedback and recommendations;
  • Hold information sharing meetings with parents;
  • Engage in additional tribal consultation with each Nation in our area —Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, and Osage; and
  • Pursue ongoing collaborative conversations with additional Native American stakeholder groups including the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission, Tulsa Native Youth Board, Oklahoma Council for Indian Education, and the National Indian Education Association.
     

To clearly communicate the way in which we’ve already modified the proposals based on feedback, we’ve shared dated versions of the proposals on our website. We will also continue to post information and updates at www.tulsaschools.org/indianeducation. To share your feedback and suggestions on our programs and services for Native American students, please e-mail TPSinfo@tulsaschools.org. Look for information about our community survey later this week!