Researchers from San Diego State University and SNAHEC recently released a report called “From Boarding Schools to Suspension Boards: Suspensions and Expulsions of Native American Students in California Public Schools”- highlighting the awful statistics that display the injustices that Native American youth are facing in the California public school system.
According to this report, Native American youth and children in California are 2 times more likely to be suspended than their peers. And when it comes to the expulsion rate, Native American girls are 1.6 times more likely to become expelled- the rate for Native boys expulsions are 4.2 times higher than the state average.
Jeremy Peconom, a traditional California Indian artist and a local Mt. Maidu man, believes that sharing this report with educators across California “can provide a platform for discussion and new understanding and help bridge potential gaps in unique, social, and educational challenges that both native youth and educators face today”.
Jeremy has helped to educate the general public on California Indian culture and has worked with native youth for the past 20 years through summer youth programs, public, and reservation school curriculum.
“I believe myself not only growing up native in modern society and having gone through both public and private education system in California, but through my own work with the now younger generations of native youth , that native youth face social issues of self isolation due to ethnographic statistics.”
According to the report, Native American boys represent the highest expulsion rate in California and that rate has been increasing over the past four years. Middle school is where both Native American girls and boys are suspended most compared to their peers.
Authors of the report included six strategies to combat the misunderstanding and mistreatment of Native Youth in California’s public school system- one of them being to involve the voices of Native youth in the discussions happening between school officials and students, around policies and practices that discriminate against Native youth.
SNAHEC members also shared their own stories and experiences as parents of Native youth in the public school system, throughout the report.
“And theses social issues go hand and hand with educational issues, behavioral issues- all leading to higher suspension rates. For many native youths in both urban and rural school districts here in California due to the ever growing US population these children may be the only natives in their class, their grade, and many times their schools leading to feelings of isolation and rebellion. And we, are the native population and the educators, can only benefit from statistics such as these provide for our benefit,” Peconom shares.