ECHO Culture & Change Symposium 2008


Community and cultural identity are indispensable pillars of successful education. Appreciation and acceptance of the diverse learner population creates stronger and more ambitious learners. Educational outcomes for Native and other culturally distinctive student populations that exist outside the mainstream can and must be improved. This can best be accomplished by developing tactics that focus on the child in context of his or her own cultural setting, and how their unique background integrates with the nation as a whole. The experts gathered at the ECHO Symposium on Culture & Change were unified in their support for a spectrum of specific additions or changes to existing and proposed legislation:

Standards & Evaluation:
•    Support academic standards that acknowledge Native history and outlook, for both classrooms and textbooks.
•    Support development and adoption of valid, reliable and culturally appropriate assessment tools to gauge success of all students.
•    Develop guidelines and methodologies to permit designation of elders and culture-bearers as Highly Qualified Teachers.

Staff support:
•    Support measures to increase staff continuity in schools serving primarily Native students, and percentage of Native teachers in schools with large Native populations.
•    Support professional education for administrators and teachers in public school systems relating to the needs of Native or culturally-disadvantaged students.

Program support:
•    Support language and cultural immersion programs.
•    Support programs that connect school and home experiences by encouraging meaningful parental, community and student involvement in curriculum development, teaching and research.
•    Support analytical and critical thinking through programs based in experiential learning, empirical observation and traditional place-based knowledge and methodology.
•    Develop and support successful art and culture programs, such as ECHO and Partners for Success, that partner with schools to provide integrated experiences that recognize and reward creativity, resiliency and strong identity through acquisition of cultural knowledge.