Panel backs special school for Indians in Twin Cities

A group of educators has recommended that the Minnesota Legislature establish the nation's first American Indian-run urban school district with a focus on the special educational needs of native American children. The 15-member Indian School Council, created by the Legislature last February, recently submitted a preliminary report recommending that the special district open a school in the Twin Cities by the fall of 1990.

Minnesota's Indian children, who have had some of the public school system's lowest test scores and highest dropout rates, would not be required to attend the school. But the council said it believes the Twin Cities' Indian community would overwhelmingly support such a school, which they anticipate would be three-quarters Indian.

But the report arrives at a time when metropolitan school districts are wrestling with the question of how to desegregate, and the idea of a predominantly Indian school flies in the face of that ideal.

Indian-run reservation schools are commonplace, but an Indian-run public school in an urban setting would be unique and involve meshing the tenets of mainstream education with traditional Indian ideas, such as the study of tribal law and culture.

About 7.5 percent of Minneapolis's total student population is Indian.

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