An edge ahead in education

An edge ahead in education
(MCN Public Relations) The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Education and Training held a presentation on Native EDGE April 1 at the MCN Executive Conference Room.

Liz Gray/Reporter

MCN program implements plan to help shape Oklahoma education

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Education and Training held a presentation April 1 at the MCN Executive Conference Room.

The presentation focused on Native EDGE, which stands for Elevating District Growth and Education. It is the Nation’s response to Oklahoma Edge, the state’s comprehensive education plan.

OE was created through the Every Student Succeeds Act requiring all state education agencies to submit a plan for the use of their federal dollars.

ESSA mandates local educational agencies, known as LEAs to engage in consultation with tribal nations.

Over the past two years, MCN has developed relationships with schools, gathering information to create Native EDGE’s research-based services.

“As we finished up last year we’re trying to think about the changes in terms of ‘okay now we’ve spoke with them one-on-one for the last two years, what is it that we can do to be innovative to move forward with using data-driven information to move forward with services,” MCN Federal Programs Administrator Sarah Price said.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister attended the meeting and expressed her excitement of the partnership between the state and the Nation.

“The details of Native EDGE dovetail with the state Oklahoma Edge goals that we have for all kids,” Hofmeister said.

Native EDGE’s key pillars mirror that of the state’s Edge plan to achieve academic success, build exceptional educators and schools, create engaged communities to better serve LEAs and develop internal capacity.

Price said MCN is highly involved with the state’s education department.

“Muscogee (Creek) Nation has always been one of those valuable partners that we have and we believe that this provides a model for work and partnership with other Native tribes here in Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said.

MCN will be moving into the next phase of Native EDGE, beginning the first of three rounds of annual consultations this summer.

The Nation will host a regional round table discussion at River Spirit. Schools participating in the first round will be Beggs, Preston and Mounds Public Schools.

“Teacher fellowship is a huge component of Native EDGE because we’re working specifically with these teachers on cultural responsiveness in their classroom,” Price said.

Hofmeister said with about 46% of teachers in Oklahoma being ‘novice teachers,’ meaning with five years or less of experience in the field, it creates a new opportunity.

“With so many brand new and young teachers in the profession…this provides a framework for supporting teachers and helping them make greater and stronger connections with students,” she said.

Native EDGE would introduce assistance in utilizing federal funding.

Price said because ESSA tribal consultations allow MCN to review federal programs, the Nation has hired a federal program expert to help schools optimize federal funding usage by reviewing their federal program applications.

“There’s a lot of technicalities that go into the application process,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is support them by bringing on this expert as a consultant with us where we can afford them a certain amount of hours where if they have questions about their federal programs or if they have questions about federal applications.”

Native EDGE has a three-Tier support system offering different ‘menu items’ for each tier.

Tier I districts have the option to choose any consulting services from their menu options.

Tier II can opt in to be considered for selection for the leadership cohort this summer

Tier III partner with the Tribal Education Agency, known as TEA on the State Tribal Education Partnership and Native Youth Community Project grant.

Though the program will be working alongside some of the schools to provide a leadership academy and teacher fellowship, Price said as of now those will not be an option for all of the schools.

“We need to do quality over quantity at the moment in terms of what’s going to work and how those projects unfold,” she said.

Native EDGE is a four-year strategic plan with formal partnerships with the state department of education, academic development institute and Oklahoma Public School Resource Center.

Other partnerships are with Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Tribal Education Department National Assembly, Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance and the Inter-tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.

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