New approach needed at chiefs assembly on education

Aboriginal Futures, Blog, Commentary, Education, Joseph Quesnel

National Chief Shawn Atleo Shawn Atleo of the Assembly  of First Nations (AFN) opened up the first session of the AFN’s Special Chiefs Assembly on Education today.

There were plenty of speeches and even some grandstanding vis-a-vis the federal government. But, let’s hope the First Nations leader put the interests of students and families ahead of anything else, especially the opportunity to make political points.

Indian Control of Indian Education is the historic clarion call of indigenous education activists and leaders, but it should not stop there. It should be about high-performance governance systems, accountability for results, and high standards.

In this National Post column, it was argued moving beyond the band operated school should be a priority. First Nations communities and community groups should explore independent and even charter schools as options.

Mother Earth’s Children’s Charter School is one example as Canada’s first indigenous charter school. Despite its challenges, it has the space to focus on both culture and identity and high academic standards.

Indian Control of Indian Education should not only mean band schools completely controlled by chief and council. But, if band schools exist, they should be insulated from local political interference so the mission of the school remains on families and results.

Chalo School in northern British Columbia is an example of the good results that can be achieved when education is arm’s length from politics.

After all, in the end, this should be about families and results. The political leaders need to realize that.