AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

OPPOSITION TO THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS' PLAN TO PRIVATIZE BIA SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the U.S. government has a historic obligation to work toward improvement of American Indian communities by expanding educational opportunities available to the children. This is an obligation that is addressed, in part, through the administration of 65 schools in communities serving thousands of American Indian children. These are schools administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and staffed by hundreds of experienced and dedicated teachers and school employees employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and

WHEREAS, these BIA schools play an important role in providing education services to American Indian children who often live in communities where the unemployment rate is as high as 40 percent, distance to school can be hundreds of miles, one-third of these children require some sort of special education service and where one-half of the community lives in poverty; and

WHEREAS, the administration of the Bureau of Indian Affairs has proposed to abandon its commitment to American Indian children by relinquishing its role in BIA schools by turning them over to private for-profit companies. These are companies that have no experience providing educational services to American Indian children and have no demonstrated track record in improving student achievement or successfully addressing the educational needs of children living in poverty; and

WHEREAS, teachers and school employees in the BIA schools have established a strong connection to the communities by providing valuable educational services. These services and the connection that the schools have with these communities are threatened by the proposed takeover of the schools by private companies. The employment status of the current employees will change, and the private company will be under no obligation to continue the employment of current employees; and

WHEREAS, the BIA administration has failed to consult with the Indian Educators Federation, AFT, the union representing the teachers and school employees who work in BIA schools, or with the American Indian communities that would be affected by this privatization plan. Both the tribes and the union have voiced their strong opposition to the privatization plan to Congress and have succeeded in stalling the privatization plan for the current year. The BIA continues to promote the plan and seeks implementation for the 2003-2004 school year and has put forward a budget request of $11.9 million to allow for the privatization plan to be carried out. This is money that should be put to work improving BIA schools and student achievement; and

WHEREAS, the Indian Educators Federation, AFT, has proposed to meet with the BIA administration to establish a plan for school improvement involving all stakeholders in the Native American schools and communities. By working together, the union and the administration can jointly develop a framework for addressing the real needs of the schools and make meaningful progress toward the goal of improving student achievement, but such an effort requires a real commitment from both sides:

RESOLVED, that the Indian Educators Federation, AFT, go on record in opposition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ efforts to privatize BIA schools; and

RESOLVED, that the Indian Educators Federation, AFT, work in coalition with Indian Nations and other groups in American Indian communities to oppose the continuing efforts of the BIA to privatize BIA schools. Such coalition efforts should also seek to prevent the appropriation of money that would allow the plan to move forward; and

RESOLVED, that the Indian Educators Federation, AFT, work with its leadership and members across the country to encourage their participation in opposing any further BIA privatization plans and join in the call on Congress to prevent the implementation of the BIA administration budget plan for the privatization of BIA schools; and

RESOLVED, that the Indian Educators Federation work with the American Federation of Teachers to bring the BIA administration to the bargaining table to work out a plan for meaningful school improvement involving the entire American Indian community.


(2002)