Senate Indian Affairs Committee to Mark Up McCain Bill Giving Native American Students New School Options

 

Contact: Starlee Coleman (602) 758-9162

Washington—Next week the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will consider a bill introduced by Arizona Senator John McCain that would give certain students attending schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education funds to attend a different school or create a customized learning environment.

 

The Native American Education Opportunity Act would allow students who live in a state that has adopted a k-12 education savings account law and attend schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education to use a portion of their federal per-student school funding to attend a private school or for other educational purposes, like home-school curriculum and supplies or tutoring.

 

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Mark up of S. 2711 the Native American Education Opportunity Act

September 7, 2016

2:15 p.m. eastern

Dirksen Senate Building, Room 628

 

These education savings accounts laws have been adopted in Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee—all states with at least one Bureau of Indian Education school. Similar laws have been introduced in a dozen other states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Oregon, all also home to at least one BIE school. To be eligible to use federal funding in a state education savings account program the student must be eligible for an account under state program rules.

 

Currently, federal money is not used to fund state-passed education savings accounts. This created a problem for eligible Native American students who attended federally-funded BIE schools. The McCain bill would address this situation by allowing eligible Native American students to transfer 90 percent of their share of federal funding into their account.

 

A hearing on the bill was held earlier this year. Next week, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will discuss proposed amendments to the bill and vote on whether or not the bill will advance to the full Senate.

 

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute developed the idea of a k-12 education savings account modeled on education savings accounts for college expenses in 2005 and led the effort as Arizona became the first state in the country to adopt the concept in 2011. Nearly 5,000 Arizona students are using the accounts this year to customize their learning environments.

 

If you’d like to speak with the education policy director at the Goldwater Institute, who has helped design and implement the education savings account programs in all five current states about how the law will impact students, please contact Starlee Coleman at scoleman@goldwaterinstitute.org or (602) 758-9162.

 

States with Bureau of Indian Education schools:

 

  • Arizona

o   Education savings account program adopted in 2011

  • California
  • Florida

o   Education savings account program adopted in 2012

  • Idaho
  • Iowa

o   Education savings account program has been introduced in the state legislature

  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
    Minnesota

o   Education savings account program has been introduced in the state legislature

  • Mississippi

o   Education savings account program adopted in 2014

  • Montana

o   Education savings account program passed in 2015 but vetoed by Governor

  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nevada

o   Education savings account program adopted in 2015

  • Oklahoma

o   Education savings account program has been introduced in the state legislature

  • Oregon

o   Education savings account program has been introduced in the state legislature

  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee

o   Education savings account program adopted in 2014

  • Utah

o   Education savings account program has been introduced in the state legislature

  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

o   Senator Ted Cruz has introduced a bill to create education savings account programs for D.C. students

  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

 

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