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Congressman Biggs Introduces the Native American Education Opportunity Act

October 1, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs introduced the Native American Education Opportunity Act, which establishes a five-year pilot program to allow Tribes to create an education savings account (ESA) for Tribal enrolled students who currently attend Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools.  The Native American Education Opportunity Program would be funded through Title II of the Every Students Succeeds Act, of which $8,000 would be deposited into a student’s ESA.  ESA funds may be used for costs of attendance at private elementary or secondary schools, private online programs, private tutoring, transportation, and 529 plans, among other educational services.  The bill also allows Tribes and BIE to approve and fund charter schools on Tribal land.  This legislation is endorsed by the Navajo Nation, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Heritage Action, and the American Federation for Children.  Congressman Biggs and supporters of this legislation released the following statements:

I am honored to introduce the Native American Education Opportunity Act.  This bill gives Native American families and their children the freedom to choose alternative educational services other than the ones currently provided by the Bureau of Indian Education.  School choice is critical to the foundation of America’s children, and I am honored to work alongside Indian Country leaders to make this opportunity a reality.” – Congressman Andy Biggs (AZ-05)

“The Native American Education Opportunity Act empowers Native American parents to guide the education of their children. The successful education of Navajo children will require the engaged commitment of parents and communities embedded in the culture and values of the Diné People. We appreciate Representative Biggs’ sponsorship of this important initiative.” –  Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.

“We know school choice works, and we owe it to tribal communities to ensure they have the freedom to also pursue the best possible education opportunities for their children. I thank Representative Biggs for his leadership and I’m honored to join my colleagues on this bill which will empower Native American families.”Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04)

“I am proud to support and cosponsor the Native American Education Opportunity Act. This legislation will open more educational opportunities to our tribal communities, which are in desperate need of access to more options for parents and students.”Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08)

I want to thank Congressman Biggs for recognizing the need to find innovative solutions that reduce educational disparities in Indian Country. If enacted, this legislation will provide CRIT students with the ability to find the educational setting that fits them best, and ensures that they have the resources to reach their fullest potential," said Chairman Dennis Patch of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.  "I also want to thank Congressman Paul Gosar, who represents our Community, and Congressman David Schweikert for joining Congressman Biggs in this effort."

The American Federation for Children works each day to provide lower income and disadvantaged students K-12 educational options in Arizona and across the country. We applaud Congressman Andy Biggs for introducing the Native American Education Opportunity Act, which will expand school choice for Native American children who desperately need more and better options to meet their unique needs. Arizona has a wide-range of high-quality educational options for families, but many families are still falling through the cracks. We look forward to working with the Native American community and the Arizona congressional delegation to advance this important school choice legislation.” – John Schilling, President, American Federation for Children

"Expanding education choice for Native American children on tribal lands will provide long-overdue opportunities for families. Education savings accounts will provide the customization and flexibility Native American families need and deserve. Chairman Biggs is once again showing why Arizonans and all Americans can trust him to champion their best interests in Washington." – Tim Chapman, Executive Director, Heritage Action for America

Background

For text of the legislation, click here.

For a section-by-section of the legislation, click here.

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