The media had a striking story this week about how aboriginal kids do in school when they get the kind of educational support used in mainstream schools. Louise Brown in The Star writes of "an astounding turnaround" at a couple of Ontario reserve schools where a test project was implemented over several years. Joseph Friesen in The Globe reports
The year before it began, only 13 per cent of students achieved the provincial standard on grade three reading tests, and only 33 per cent met the standard on writing tests. By 2014, just less than 70 per cent of the school’s students met the reading standard, very close to the provincial average, and more than 90 per cent met the writing benchmark, significantly higher than the Ontario average.Before the kids got the education they deserved, 45% of them were deemed to have special learning needs. With proper teaching available, that proportion fell to 19%. Funding for the project came through an NGO, the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative.
Good news: the catastrophe in aboriginal education seems fixable with standard, familiar tools. Bad news: all it takes is money. Because hell will freeze over before either the feds or the provinces fund reserve schools adequately, given their lack of voting clout and the general public's lack of interest or actual hostility to giving "charity" to "Indians."
So like everything else, it comes back to land and treaties. When the First Nations secure control of their economic base, they will able to address the educational crisis (and gradually, most of the other crises too)