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School district seeks to implement Native American curriculum
NORTH KITSAP — New Tribal Sovereignty curriculum in North Kitsap schools is filling gaps education long noticed by teachers like Mary Lou Macala.
“This curriculum is giving a voice to the Native American point of view,” said Macala, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Kingston Middle School. “Of course people have tried, but there is still a lot missing.”
The district is testing a program that expands Washington State and United States history and contemporary world issues classes more material on Native American sovereignty. The material for elementary, middle school and high school levels is provided online through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction website.
Along with Kingston Middle School, teachers at Breidablek Elementary have begun using the material. Poulsbo Middle School is planned to begin using the extra curriculum next year.
Other schools in the district, such as North Kitsap and Kingston High, have other sovereignty programs, but the new curriculum may be incorporated into those, said Lena Maloney, Native American Coordinator for the district.
The goal for the district is to incorporate the curriculum into all Washington State History classes at the 7th grade level by next year, said Shawn Woodward, Assitant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.
Though the program is set to be released next year, the resources are available now. However, the material is not mandated by the state Legislature and is a suggested addition, Woodward said.
“We want this to get into as many classrooms as we can,” Maloney said. “But this is meant to be a supplemental curriculum.”
The sovereignty curriculum is something that teachers like Macala, can use as an additional resource to the material they already teach.
Since she began teaching in 1996 at Kingston Middle School, Macala noticed a lack of content in textbooks when it comes to Native American history. When approaching historical cases, such as the Walla-Walla Treaty Council of 1855, Macala said there would be less than a page of content in textbooks.
With the sovereignty curriculum; however, Macala has incorporated the extra material to give students more background on particular treaty cases.
Macala helped pilot the state program for two years and also helped train teachers in the added material last summer. The material, which can be accessed by teachers online, focuses on court cases and treaties which shaped how the tribes of today live.
Though Macala never raised concerns about Native American studies in the district, she quickly agreed to help when asked about the pilot opportunity.
“I have had many students respond positively to the extra information,” Macala said. One student told her, “I never actually knew much about the Native Americans that lived nearby...now I know more about a people who are close to me.”
Along with the added material, OSPI identified the “Big 5,” a list of additional concepts students should know after completing their history classes. After teaching the material for a few years, Macala said the additional material is not an extreme addition to the student’s workload.
In order to cut costs, the material will stay online, with possibilities of grants in the future if a teacher wants to bring in guest speakers or other activities, Maloney said.
“It’s all right there (on the OSPI) website with the click of a button,” Maloney said. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible, otherwise teachers might not use it.”
Not all teachers have gone through the training, but Maloney said she expects most to have it in the near future.