GM 11-148

President Obama Signs Executive Order Creating White House Initiative on American Indian/Alaska Native Education

On December 2, 2011, President Obama signed Executive Order 13592, titled Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Education Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, which establishes a White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (Initiative). The Executive Order (copy attached) calls for the coordination and collaboration of efforts among federal agencies as well as with Indian tribes and tribal education agencies to improve education outcomes and expand the education opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students from the early learning years through the post-secondary level.

The Initiative will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Interior. The Executive Director of the Initiative will be a high level Department of Education (DoED) official and will provide staff support to the Native American Council on Indian Education (NACIE) which is to serve as the Initiative’s advisory committee.

The Initiative’s mission includes:
• expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all AI/AN students, “including opportunities to learn their Native languages, cultures and histories and receive complete and competitive educations that prepare them for college…,” through a variety of means such as coordinating educational programs administered by the DoED as well as other agencies, by building capacity of tribal education agencies and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs)
• focus efforts on objectives that include increase access to science and technology education; reduce the student dropout rate; encourage those who have dropped out of education and training program to re-enter such programs; increase college access and completion; and meet the unique cultural, educational and language needs of AI/AN students

The Initiative requires that:
• the Executive Director work with the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education to facilitate a DoED/DOI memorandum of understanding on the collaboration between the two agencies to carry out the stated policy of the Executive Order
• an Interagency Working Group on AI/AN education and TCUs to be established, with each member agency charged to develop and implement a two-part, four-year action plan to fulfill the Executive Order purposes

On December 9, Secretary Duncan announced that William Mendoza (Oglala-Sicangu Lakota) has been appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Initiative. Mr. Mendoza most recently served as Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities at the DoED.

Executive Order 13592 also revokes certain prior Executive Orders, including the 2002 EO on TCUs and the 2011 Order that continued several advisory committees including the President’s Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Please let us know if we may be of further assistance regarding Executive Order 13592.