BLACKFOOT– The Tribal Youth Education Program was created and implemented in 2005 to help address and identify educational issues affecting American Indian youth in kindergarten through 12 grade. This program has been implemented in Fort Hall, Idaho and there are advocates who travel to the high schools and middle schools to help tribal members who may be having issues with reading and education.
Catlin Palmer, a young man who grew up on the reservation has seen the issues as a councilor with the tribal courts. He went to Highland High School and had a support system back home to help him achieve education success. However, there are numerous American Indian youth who do not have the educational support systems available to them. The Idaho Reading Indicator is given to all public school students from kindergarten to third grade as a reading diagnostic and screener. It is mandatory and monitors progress for children. This Indicator is then broken down into nationalities and according to the 2018 test scores show that only 30-percent of Native American children are reading at their grade level. This means that 70-percent of children are not. It has been shown that if a child cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school or not graduate on time.
Palmer is hoping to raise awareness of this discrepancy and provide support for the Tribal Youth Education Program, through a fundraiser. He will also be running a half marathon, Running The Gap, on August 31 in Pocatello to encourage donations. "I want to help these children get the help necessary to graduate, get off the reservation, and receive more educational possibilities," says Palmer.
When Palmer moved back home to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation he found out about the program. He also discovered that the after school reading program has only one individual for 10 to 20 kids who need help with their reading skills. "I believe it is imperative to ensure our community's youth have the resources and support to give them the best education they can get. I believe that pursuing an education will be most kids' only opportunity to accomplish their dreams," says Palmer. The general goals of the Tribal Youth Education Program is: to have educated Tribal Members, to build a skilled and more qualified workforce, to reduce unemployment, to have a productive leadership, to improve the community, to make a difference in the lives of youth on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Community support is essential to help address; low academic performance, attendance problems, high drop out rate, increase student retention and graduation rate, increase student college and career preparedness, and increase academic readiness.
Palmer hopes that his awareness campaign and fundraiser will help purchase more reading books, workbooks, educational modules, used laptops and overall educational materials to help the Tribal Youth Education Program. All funds raised during this fundraiser will go to the program. If one would like to donate check out the website at www.mightycause.com/story/4g145g.