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Bill to Provide Educational Opportunities for Native Students Gets Committee Approval

WASHINGTON, DC (KSWO)– The Johnson O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act would call on the US Department of the Interior to update its severely outdated count of Native students in a timely manner by using existing public information from the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to identify underserved students who are potentially eligible for the program. This data is crucial to ensure Native students in public schools can access the cultural and educational investments critical to their success.  

"The Johnson O’Malley Act is a critical program that provides cultural and academic assistance to American Indian students and opens the door to a number of valuable resources,” said Senator James Lankford. “I applaud the Committee’s progress today to update decades-old data which will allow American Indian students to have access to quality education. I look forward to a vote on the Senate floor in the days ahead.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) last official count of eligible Native students took place more than two decades ago. By requiring the federal government to accurately count all Native students, the Johnson O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act would help close gaps in access to programs that can help Native students improve academically. 

The program’s last official count of Indian students identified around 11,000 Native American students attending public schools in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Education estimates that there are actually over 130,000 Indian students attending school in the state.

Information provided by the Office of Senator James Lankford. 

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