Federally owned schools for Native Americans on reservations are marked by remoteness, extreme poverty and a lack of construction dollars. They also are among the lowest performing in the U.S., AP reported.
The Obama administration is pushing ahead with an improvement plan that gives tribes more control. But the effort is complicated by the disrepair of so many buildings, not to mention the federal legacy of forcing American Indian children from their homes to attend boarding schools.
Consider Little Singer Community School, with 81 students on a remote desert outpost. The vision for the school came in the 1970s from a medicine man who wanted area children to attend school locally. Here's the reality today: a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice and mold.
Students often come from families struggling with domestic violence, alcoholism and a lack of running water at home, so nurturing is emphasized. The school provides showers, along with shampoo and washing machines.
Teachers have no housing, so they commute together about 90 minutes each morning on barely passable dirt roads.
The school is on the government's priority list for replacement. It's been there since at least 2004. Not even one-quarter of the students were deemed proficient in reading and math on a 2012-2013 assessment.