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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

November 5, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Updated: What’s school like for Native kids? Feds want to hear from you

Update, 10:30 a.m. Nov. 5: The U.S. Department of Education has canceled Friday’s Native American student listening tour “out of respect for the Tulalip tribe and the family of the shooting victim whose funeral is that day,” said spokeswoman Dorie Nolt. The session will be rescheduled, but a date has not yet been set.

Original post, 5 a.m. Nov. 5: The shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Oct. 24 has left many wondering about underlying factors behind Jaylen Fryberg’s decision to gun down five of his friends, and then, fatally, shoot himself.

None of that is yet clear, though federal officials expect the question may come up at a meeting Friday in Seattle about the education of Native youth in Puget Sound. The White House had scheduled this “listening tour,” which is open to all, long before the shooting in Marysville that left Fryberg’s school and community reeling.

The meeting runs all day at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Seattle’s Discovery Park and is among a nationwide series organized by the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. Federal officials hope to collect feedback from educators and community members on bullying, discipline issues and imagery of concern to Native American students.

Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times.

Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times.

Not long before the shooting, Fryberg, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, had been briefly suspended from the football team for fighting with another student over a remark he perceived as racist.

“Indian students have unique education challenges,” said William Mendoza, executive director of the White House initiative. Among those hurdles, he said, is preserving Native culture while performing in a mainstream school.

“We expect that the shooting incident will come up,” said Ron Lessard, chief of staff for Mendoza. “We definitely will be opening up the floor for Native youth to come forward.”

Comments | More in News | Topics: Marysville Pilchuck High School, Native American youth

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