March 13, 2008

Native schools help Native children

Native school programs studied

Grant supports research at WWUUnited States history doesn’t begin with Columbus.

That’s just one difference between “conventional” Western education models and the schools being studied by Western Washington University education professor William Demmert.

Demmert, a champion of national education reform, particularly for American Indians, recently received a $125,500 grant to continue researching whether education that emphasizes native culture and language helps native students do better in school.

“These schools have a really strong partnership between the school, the teachers and parents, which creates a different, new kind of extended family for the Native American community,” Demmert said. “The kids that are in these schools are open, happy and enjoy school. That’s not always the case for students from the reservations who go to school in Bellingham.”

Backed by the recent grant, which was awarded by the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, Demmert aims to prove what he’s already observed for nearly four years: “We want to show that using native language and cultural education programs won’t hurt our students and that, in fact, they may do better socially, academically and psychologically in their development.”

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