WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the House of Representatives continues to debate the first significant legislative effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since the No Child Left Behind Act, Alaskan Congressman Don Young today successfully passed an amendment to protect and modernize critical Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian education initiatives which were on the chopping block. H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, would have eliminated the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Equity programs which fund culturally-based learning and meaningful education support for both state’s Native populations.
If not for Congressman Young’s amendment, H.R. 5 would have killed these programs and also crippled the American Indian grant program, which provides similar benefits throughout the nation. All of these programs, which are authorized under Title VII of the ESEA, have been historically successful. As H.R. 5 was originally drafted, Title VII programs would have suffered millions of dollars worth of cuts; the Alaska Native Equity program alone was set to lose approximately $32 million dollars in funding for grants that promote the educational achievement of Alaska Native students.
“Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian education programs stood to suffer crippling cuts to programs that have shown great improvements since they were enacted. Through the united leadership of the Alaska and Hawaii House delegations, we were able to fend off these cuts, while also making major policy improvements to the programs,” Rep. Young said. “Native students continue to face major barriers to their success, and these programs are key to eliminating the disparities that continue to exist between the academic achievement of Native students and their non-Native peers.”
“I would also like to thank Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and their staffs who worked with me to help develop the policy improvements to the Alaska Native Education Equity Program.”
Click to watch Rep. Young’s floor speech in support of his amendment
Rep. Young’s amendment will:
- Fully restore and modernizes all Title VII programs.
- Ensure that a dedicated funding stream for Native education continues to exist, which is critical for upholding the federal government’s trust relationship to Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and American Indians.
- Preserve funding while remaining deficit neutral.
H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, continues to be debated by the House, and final passage is expected tomorrow. Rep. Young’s amendment was co-sponsored by Representatives Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Betty McCollum (D-MN). Senators Murkowski and Begich have offered similar Senate legislation to protect the program.