WASHINGTON -- On Feb. 14, Congressman Rick Renzi (AZ-1) called for more funding for Native American education during a speech to the National Indian Education Association.
Renzi noted that the president's budget calls for a 5.5 percent reduction in funding for the Department of Education and a reduction in funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs of 2.4 percent. The federally supported Indian education system includes 48,000 students, 29 tribal colleges, universities and post-secondary schools.
"Last year, I twice voted against the Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bill because it did not adequately fund education in general, and Native American programs specifically," said Congressman Renzi. "Congress needs to get the message that it must do more to provide quality education for Native American children across the country."
Renzi said he was committed to improving Native American education in rural Arizona and across the nation.
Renzi recently introduced the Navajo Nation Higher Education Act which reauthorizes the 1971 Navajo Community College Act. The bill will provide funding to address Dine College's facility needs such as modernization, repair and rehabilitation and modernizes the statute by including the mission statement and Navajo education philosophy of Dine College.
Last year, Renzi was able to secure a $2 million grant from the US Department of Education's Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Program for the oldest college on tribal lands, Dine College. Dine College was the first college established by Native Americans for Native Americans and helped pave the way for 33 similar educational institutions on tribal land.
Renzi also was successful at securing $3.5 million last summer to pave 12 miles of the Pine Springs Road (Navajo Route 9010, segment 1) on the Navajo Nation. The road is essential to providing a safer transportation alternative for the students of Pine Springs.
"I have a high regard for native languages and the pivotal role they have played in our nation's history," Congressman Renzi said, noting his support for immersion education in Native American languages. "We need only look to our Navajo Code Talkers during World War II to see the value that native languages bring not only to their culture, but to the security of all Americans."