Published: 10-10-2011, 15:04

Rough Rock Demonstration School - American Education

One of several schools that the Bureau of Indian Affairs operated on Indian reservations for American Indian children in the 1960s. Located in Lukachukai, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation, the school was used by BIA as an instrument of Indian education reform. Responding to a barrage of criticism that it was keeping Indian children buried in ignorance, BIA obtained extra funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1964 and introduced many standard public school methods of instruction at the school. It brought Navajo parents into the school planning process, incorporated Navajo culture into the social studies program, opened the school to adult education, encouraged formation of PTAs and other home-school ties and opened school services and facilities to all community residents. Although praised by Navajo leaders for improving school-community relations, the BIA was ridiculed for doing nothing more than using conventional public school methods to update what were essentially backward, 19th-century schools. The program produced no substantial improvements in student academic achievement. In 1972, the BIA effort became superfluous, with passage of the Indian Education Act authorizing a battery of new educational programs for Indians, including grants to local educational agencies and special literacy and job-training programs for Indian adults. The programs reached about 78% of the more than 400,000 Indian children in the United States.

Two subsequent laws also improved Indian education. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and the Indian Education Act of 1978, which together stripped the Bureau of Indian Affairs of many of its powers and turned control of education over to Indians.

(See also American Indians.)