North Carolina Newspapers

    The Way I See It
OJ ur. wan Chasers, Prnldtnl
Nalisc American Scholarship Kund
How Indian Children Should be Educated
Back in April of IV1}? | wrote in
this space about how Special education
had become the growth industry
ol Indian education It is the wrong
growth industry. in my opinion. According
to former Education Secretary
l.auro Cavazos. some 46% of
Indian students nationally are enrol led
in Special education
I his is the highest percentage for
any ethnic group. I means that halfof
our Indian children are being labelled
by the schools as incompetent. This
marks them for life. Their school
records will follow them until they
are 50 years old. Their chances are
being vers limited.
That column prompted a lady
named Sylvia Lambert to write to me.
She had concerns about two things.
One. Indian children are being forced
into English-only instruction as soon
as they enter school. Second. I said
we should give Indian children rewards
for reading books.
She is a very thoughtful person,
and a great reader. She sent me copies
of seven articles and chapters from
book's to support her contention.
She contends that Indian students
should be taught in their Native language
for the first five to seven years.
She supports this contention with a
chapter from the book "Multicultural
Education" by Christine Bennett,
which states that Cummins says
"thinking skills developed in the first
language will transfer to the second
language. However, if the transfer
from the first to second language occurs
prematurely, prior tot he five to
seven years ty pically required to reach
the'threshold level,'the child is likely
to be cognitively retarded in both
That struck a chord with me. In
seven years of doing education evaluations.
I found instance after instance
ofteachers. and aides who said Indian
students were poor in both languages..
Ihey are being forced not to use their
Native language from their first day
in the school. They are suppose to
learn English and not forget their first
language. But because the new English
language is forced on them so
early, they never really learn it well,
either. u , .
In another chapter another book
which Sylvia sent me a copy of Dr.
Jon Reyhner is quoted as saying"
Children who are fluent in a language
before entering school are usually
handicapped throughout their lives.
These are the clearest statements I
have seen yet for the "transitional
model" of bilingual educations. Indian
students rarely get taught this
model, which calls for five to seven
vearsof instruction in the Native language.
then a transition to English in
middle school. Instead, they get taught
the "submersion model", in which
thev either sink or swim. All instruction
is in English only Most of the
Indian students sink; was too few
learn how to swim.
About the on ly places I know where
transitional bilingual education is taking
place is at Rock Point AZ. and at
the Akwesasne Freedom School in
NY. Both of these teach in the Native
language only for six or eight years.
About all other Indian bilingual
programs I have seen or worked with
start teaching English in pre-school
or kindergarten. I doubt they are doing
the right thing for students. According
to Cummins and Reyhner.
they are actually doing harm taestudents-handicapping
them with a language
deficiency unnecessarily.
Sylvia's second concern, giving
Indian students rewards to read books,
is being tested right now. The situation
is so bad that I am in favor of
almost anything to get them to read.
In data I collected from two different
reservations. Indian students were
reading under one book per year outside
of the classroom. This situtation
is seriously flawed, especially for students
whogotocollege. lam sick and
tired ofstories. I hear about the Indian
valedictorian in high school who goes
off to college gnd flunks out. The
main reaStSrTfney^flunk out is their
lack of ability to read well. She sent
me a chapter from a book Alfie Kohn
called" Punishment by Reward"." It
reviews the literature on using rewards
to kinds for reading books does
not turn them into people who like
books more, they stop reading when
the reward are no longer offered.
I agree with that. I agree with his
point that people should read because
they love to read, the love to learn
new things. But Indian students read
so little that they never learn to appreciate
the joys of reading. Sylvia also
sent me a short bibliography on learn
and how children read. Some of them
people I have never heard of. but
some are very familiar and popular
writers (Howard Gardner, John
Goodlad). So now I have a pile of
reading to do to learn all I can about
how children leam.
One thing is clear to me, however-^
-the schools need la teach Indian stu-'
dents mostly in their Native language
for the first few years, if most members
of their local Indian tribes speak
their Native* language extensively.
Otherwise they are being handicapped.
I his raises the question of what
these children will read. One of the
articles S>lvia sent me stated that
gi\ ing children pizza as a reward gets
them (oread books only lasted as long
as the pizza lasted. When the pizza is
withdrawn, the children stop reading
books. A second point the author
made was that the pizza-eaters only
read easy books, not one with string
academic content.
Educators in Indian Country need
to re-think the whole paradigm of the
education of Indian children. Twothirds
of the high school graduates in
the U.S. now enter college, according
to the latest report from the Education
Department. The percent of Indian
who go? Only 17%. And 80% of
these drop out before they get a degree.
Educators will tell you. in subtle
and not so subtle ways, that they need
to educate Indian students for vocational
work. This idea, jvhich is almost
a century and a quarter old. is
still prevalent in Indian schools. Talk
about sending Indian students to college.
and they will counter with the
need they precieve for Indian students?the
need for student to be
trained for blue-collar jobs.
We need to start meaningful
changes in the way Indian students
are educated. They need to be challenged
to achieve the maximum. They
need to be assisted and motivated by
their parents. They need to be given
homework every day. They need to
plan for oareers-as early as middle
school. They need to READ. READ,
The Indian education box was built
in the 1870's. 1880's. and 1890's.
Indians were to be trained as fanners,
housekeepers, and blue col lar worker.
That is the box most people are still
in. That is the culture of the schools.
It needs to be changed. The next
generation of people need to be able
toachievethings our generation never
thought of.
To do that, they have a high quality
education. They should learn their
Native language first. They should
read books. Then they should leam
all the other things, and leam them
Letters to the Editor
LRDA commendedfor great
vow wow held the weekend
Dear Fditor.
I just want to take a few mimutes
to congratulate everyone for a good
event. The LRDA fall pow wow had
something for everyone. My hatisoff
to Ben Jacbos. Wanda Locklear.
Marilyn Locklear. Connie Jone. and
the list just goes on and on. They all
did a wonderful job. They had supprot
from the Arts Council and the NC
Indian Cultural Center, with assistance
from other agencies. If they
continue to get support from other
organizations, the event will continue
to grow.
Here are some suggestions 1 came
up with. First, have more lights and a
shade tent up for the elderly. Also
bigger bleachers that will seat more
people. Friday night I thought that
LRDA had sprung for fireworks. The
lights went out and there was a big
bang. That is when I realized a
gransformer had blown out. The guys'
from Lumber River were there before
everyone left, working away to get
the lights turned back on. I believe the
streest in Pembroke were empty Saturday
night because it looked like
everyone was there. There were some
touching moments: We had a memorial
for Dwight Lowry and his father,
Mr. Marvin Lowry, spoke about his
experience as a veteran during the
Korean conflict. He spoke ofhis faith
in the Lord and how that faith got him
through allt he things he has experienced.
I was glas that none of thepeople
running for office spoke very long,
not did any of the people who came to
the mike.
What I really liked was allt he
small children who danced for the
first time. I pray taht they will continue
to dance until they are way up in
years. I would rather see our kids into
pow wows than Rap, of that other
stuff. Pow wows really bring families
together and helps build self esteem
in our youth.
Our drum. Southern SunS ingers
had James Had to sit in with us for a
song or two. A loto f people would be
surprised to know that before James
became Executive Director of LRDA.
he was a dancer and singer a number
of years ago.
We had M ike Wilkins to sit in with
us before he started craving stone and
before he worked with Fleetwood.
He also sang and danced., looked
around the drum and ^tone time we
had fomrer members oTLumbee and
Friendsa nd every other drum group
to be formed from the Pembroke area
before 1985 and some new singers
who have just started.
My hat is off to Karl Anthony
Hunt and Reggie Brewer. They work
with the kids at the Indian Cultural
Center, teaching them to dance and
sing. I would like to encourage the
young drum, Red Snake, to keep singing.
I hope to see Red Snale at many
events in the years to come. My wish
for all the youth is that they will
continue on this path and not give up
when the> get older. I can't count how
any people we have had who at one
time danced or sange. but as the} got
older the} stopped dancing and singing.
especiall}. the Miss Lumbees. I
must say. however, that I have seen
more of them this year than ever. I
even rant into the first Miss Lumbee.
I challenged my cousing. Charlie
Lowry, by asking her once she gave
up her crown would she stop coming
to pow wows. She said no. but we will
see. I th inkofall that knowledge and
wisdom lost, all that experience gone
to wast and kids have so few people to
look up today. To me pow wows are
like family gatherings, and I believe it
is a great way to keep kids off drugs
and alcohol. I also ask taht we older
. adults set examples of clean living
that these kids can follow. I now see
that as adults we are to share our
wisdoma nd pave the way for thsoe
who follow. It is at events like the
pow wow you see the elders interacting
with adults and the youth, sometime
at the same time. You might say
it is where the past and the present
meet the future. It is at a pow wow.
Parents take your kids and spend some
time with them. I believe it is the
greatest investment you will spend
wihtout it comsting you a dime.
We;;, as always, I hope I have
given your something to think about.
Take care.
In the True Way,
Derek Lowry
Son of Rowland (N.C'.) Residents Serves
with Pride on USS Cape ST. George
by: Kevin Moore
Naval Base Norfolk, VA~Having
just returned from a two-month
deployment, the stately gray ship
prepares earnestly at its pier at
Naval Station Norfolk, for its next
call to duty. The ship, USS Cape
St. George, is a guided-missile
cruiser with a crew of more than
During the deployment, the ship
participated in Operation Baltops.
The Baltic operation is the largest
annual naval exercise in the world.
Fifty ships from 13 countries conducted
air, surface and subsurface
operations designed to increase
their ability to work together as a
Joseph Hunt, son of Leonard
and Kay Hunt of Rowland. N.C.
(28383), was one of the Sailors
who helped make Baltops a success.
The ship he serves on is one of
the most powerful warships ever
put to sea. It is versatile, fast and
designed to protect its battle group
against all threats from above, on
or below the sea. The ship has the
AEGIS weapons system. Reenters
around a powerful radar that enables
thcfcrcw to detect, track and
fire on .more than one hundred
targets at a time.
*Hunt, a 19-ycar-old petty ofTi^
ccr third class, is an operations
specialist. "I use our radar system
to determine where we're at and
what's around us. I have to be able
to determine if the ships and planes
on the radar are our friends or
Hunt joined the Navy to gain
experience. "1 graduated from high ..
school and wanted to start my life
off right. 1 wanted to travel and \
visit other countries and gain real ;
world work experience." }
A 1995graduateofSouthRobe- ^
son High School, Hunt continues
to learn in the Navy'.,"I've learned -i
a lot about discipline. I've learned
about my rate, lire Navy sends me 2
to different schools so lean operate ?
and maintain the equipment! W.Wk--=!
with." | . V . .;
Hunt, married to the former
KathrynFaganofJamesville, N.C., j
is undecided about making the Navy
his career. "I've saved a lolof money '
with the GI Bill and would like to
get a degree. 1 may do my next tour
of shore duty and leave after that
enlistment. I'd go back home after
that and go to college."
No matter what his future holds,
Hunt will always be able to look
back on his time in the Navy and
know his service was valuable and
_ "This
Just Keeps
Florence H. liassi, M.I)., has
joined the medical staff of SRMC
and is associated with Carolina
Eye Associates in I-umberton.
A native of West Virginia,
Dr. Bassi's practice includes
i general ophthalmology as well
' as laser surgery of the eye. and
she is certified by the American
' Board of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Bassi is a graduate of
\ the West Virginia University
School of Medicine. She
completed an internship at
'( Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh,
s PA, and residency training in
000^^ ophthalmology at the
Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
Florence H. Bassi, M.D.
We can all feel good about each new addition to the
medical staff at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
Kvcry physician brings years of education, specialized
training and |)ersonal expertise to our highly diversified
health care team?and to our community.
We'd like to extend a warm welcome to our newest
doctor. With your arrival, there is a significant improvement
in the general health of this community.
3(X) West 27th Street, Iximberton, NC (910) 671-50(K)
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