Tester outlines education priorities for Indian Country

Senator cites Montana’s work as example of needed improvements

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today outlined his priorities for education in Indian Country.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill, Tester addressed officials from the U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Education on the particular needs of Indian students in Montana and across America.

Tester praised the work of Montana Superintendent of Schools Denise Juneau and pointed to steps taken in Montana as an example of needed improvements in education across Indian Country:

  • Close relationships between tribes and public schools: Tester spoke about the need to make education a community commitment instead of a government initiative. He specifically cited Montana’s Indian Education for All law, which Tester supported as a Montana state senator in 1999. 
  • Wrap-around services in schools: Tester pushed the need in schools not only for quality teachers, but also for counselors, social workers, and mental health providers.
  • Parent involvement: Tester stressed the need for families to become involved in school communities.

“We need a steady supply of Indian Country’s best and brightest young people to run strong businesses,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  “To produce the best and brightest, we need good schools, good teachers and good homes.  And we need to strengthen self-determination for our tribes  to make sure they have the tools they need for hope and opportunity.”

Tester added that the most pressing challenge is the “vicious cycle of poverty that plagues Indian Country.”