McCain Files Amendment to Help Fund School Choice for Native American Students

The American Federation for Children applauds Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for filing an amendment to the FY18 budget resolution which re-ignites the fight for the Native American Education Opportunity Act. In his amendment, McCain is pushing Congress to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to support school choice options for students currently attending Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. BIE students who qualify would be able to access tribally-operated education savings accounts (ESA), charter schools and distance learning programs.
Statement from William E. Oberndorf, Chairman of the American Federation for Children:
“We applaud the continued commitment and diligence of Sen. McCain as he fights for the future of many Native American students who are not learning in their schools and not making it to graduation day. Native American students come from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country, and expanding education opportunities will empower these families to use many school choice options, including education savings accounts and charter schools.”
McCain has been vocal about his disappointment in BIE schools, calling out BIE officials on startling statistics including low test scores and some of the worst graduation rates in the nation. Nearly half of BIE students will not graduate high school.
Earlier this year Sen. McCain and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced S.1294, the Native American Education Opportunity Act (NAEO) to expand education savings accounts as an educational option for all students eligible to attend BIE schools. The proposal would enable Tribes to award education savings accounts for ESA eligible students.
NAEO would apply to the states that have both an education savings account program and BIE schools, which include Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Mississippi. NAEO was inspired by a state law already in place in Arizona where children living on tribal lands and attending state-funded public schools are automatically eligible to receive an education savings account.


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