Parents are moving their kids to Oglala Lakota School District

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 3:35 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The pandemic has caused people to think and do things differently than they would have a year ago. That’s especially true in education, where online learning has gained popularity.

The reaction is mixed especially in the native community, 40% of Indigenous students didn’t engage in their online classes last semester.

And people like Sarah Pierce, Tamera Miyasato, Amy Sazue, Mary Bowman and Heather Dawn Thompson are ready to do something about it.

“The data and research is out there that culturally responsive teaching helps increase the academic achievement of students of color,” says Bowman. “It increases their engagement which if you’re more engaged you’re going to learn better, and if you’re learning better your achievement level will go up.”

According to the 2019 State Education Report Card, 84% of South Dakota students graduate, but only 41% of Rapid City’s Native American students made that milestone. Native students in the district also perform at less than 30% below other students in English, math and science.”

The need and desire for a virtual learning environment that would be consistent for the entire duration of the school year if we were out of district transfers.

That would enable us to give our students the opportunity to access Lakota language, culture, and integration of the Oceti Sakowin essential understandings in addition to all of their other academic priority areas,” says Pierce.

Now, parents are working with the Oglala Lakota School District to provide remote learning for children. It’s an option some students are ready for.

“When I talked to him about this, and he learned that Lakota language and Oceti Sakowin would be apart of the curriculum, he was so excited,” says Thompson.

A 10-year-old, who’s ancestors were forbidden from speaking their language, now excited to learn the Lakota culture in an online school.

There will be a Virtual Learning Enrollment Fair Wednesday, Aug. 19, for families interested in enrolling their students, and you can find more information here.

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