Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau
unveils "Graduation Matters" to CSKT Council to help curb high school
By Lailani Upham
Denise Juneau speaks to CSKT tribal council on the "Graduation Matters"
initiative, a state-wide effort to make sure Montana public schools are
meeting the goal of a higher percentage of students graduating and
being prepared for college. Juneau reported data to the council of the
local high schools on the Flathead Reservation last Tuesday. (Lailani
PABLO — Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau made a
visit to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council last week
to introduce her new initiative to lower the drop out rate in high
schools or more specific for this visit - the Flathead Reservation.
Juneau recently launched "Graduation Matters," a grassroots effort with a community-based focus.
Juneau made the visit in hopes of enlightening the community to the
effort that is spreading throughout the state to ensure the public
schools are meeting the goal of graduating more students and preparing
them for college and careers.
Juneau reported to the Tribal
Council the Montana Office of Public Instruction drop out data for the
2009-10 school year: Arlee High School at 6.3 percent; Polson High
School at 1.6 percent; St. Ignatius High School at 2.6 percent; Ronan
High School at 4.2 percent; Charlo High School 3.0 percent; and Two
Eagle River School at 33.3 percent.
Juneau suggested that tribal laws and policies needed to be stronger in local and education levels to promote school retention.
According to Juneau, more than 2,000 students drop out of school in Montana each year. "We can do better," she said.
stated that although her attempts to raise the legal drop out age from
16 to 18 failed in this past legislative session, she said she would
continue that effort to see the measure passed during the 2013 session.
"It has not been changed in 90 years," she told the Council.
"The world is different from back then. We now live in a time of social
and economic circumstances that require at a very minimum a high school
diploma," she added.
Stephen Smallsalmon spoke up during the
council to say bulling should not be overlooked. Smallsalmon stated he
feels bullying is a cause for kids to dropout and it should not be
Juneau asserted that although a bill failed that would have
established an anti-bullying policy, she added, "We will be working
harder on it."
Juneau also shared that an organized student
advisory board was formed in the state from 31 communities that meet on
occasion to discuss dropout prevention and school climate issues.
Oftentimes, she said, adults plan and discuss education, but asking the
source for solutions makes more sense.
The Office of Public
Instruction has also been working on a toolkit to help local schools
launch a Graduation Matters initiative in their communities. The idea
is based from the Superintendent's Student Advisory Board; schools will
work with and encourage students to pledge to graduate. The first group
of students to take part in the, "I pledge to graduate" campaign were
Native students at Billings's Native American High School summer
program this year.
Juneau also thanked the CSKT Tribal Council for their support in the last election.
Chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran stated in an endorsement letter that
Superintendent Juneau is the first American Indian woman to be elected
to a statewide position and she "is a courageous advocate for all
Montana students and will fight for the state and federal policies that
benefit the education of future generations."
information on "Graduation Matters in Montana" toolkits or resources,
visit http://gmm.mt.gov, or find them on Facebook.