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Promising outlook for tribal education funding

Jan 22, 2024

Funding for tribal education is gaining momentum as the New Mexico legislature begins its month-long session.

Both the Legislative Education Study Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee endorsed two Tribal Remedy Framework bills that will strengthen the capacity of tribal education departments: HB 134, establishing a new Tribal Education Trust Fund, and HB 135, streamlining disbursements from the existing Indian Education Fund.

The Legislative Finance Committee included $50 million in their budget recommendations to establish a Tribal Education Trust Fund, and we’ll be advocating for another $50 million.

Many tribal educators have spent years calling for stable, consistent, and predictable state funding for tribal education. Whether you represent tribal education departments, tribal libraries, or Native language programs, it’s challenging to plan, staff, and operate your programs without sustainable funding.

These tribal funding bills won’t affect existing state funding for public school districts that educate Native students. New Mexico’s schools will get more than $4 billion in state formula funding, as well as grants from the Indian Education Fund. But if we can secure new resources for tribal education departments, Tribes can expand their capacity to collaborate with public schools and hold them accountable for meeting the needs of Native students.