College of Menominee Nation
The College of Menominee Nation (CMN), accredited first by the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Universities in 1995, received a ten year continuing accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission in 2003. CMN is a member in good standing of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) as a tribally controlled college by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The College of Menominee Nation, a public tribal college in Wisconsin, had been preparing candidates for associate degrees since 1993, one such degree was the Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree. Then, CMN wanted to expand to become a bachelor degree granting institution. As such, the college sought regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and was granted approval. It was the intention of CMN that an associate degree candidate in Early Childhood would advance and pursue a bachelor’s degree in teaching at the Early Childhood-Middle Childhood level. In 2008, CMN submitted an application to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and was approved to begin a licensure program to prepare candidates for the Early Childhood-Middle Childhood licensure (Birth to 11) and is continuing that process for final approval as an Institution of Higher Education, submitting the Professional Education Report.
The College of Menominee Nation enrolls approximately 700 students, mostly single female students with dependents; over 70% are of tribal descent, mainly Menominee, Oneida, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. Teacher Education’s 100 students fit CMN’s general profile. CMN’s academic degrees include 11 associate degrees, one Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, and four technical diplomas. The first bachelor degree offered by CMN was the Early Childhood/Elementary Education (EC/EE), and the college is now seeking approval for bachelor degrees in business administration and public administration programs.
CMN students receive nearly 5 million dollars in scholarships and student aid. CMN revenues are generated through federal grants, general funds, BIA Indian Student Counts, state grants, and support from the Menominee Tribe. The Teacher Education program, initially funded with Department of Education Title III grant “Strengthening Institutions” and a Department of Health and Human Services grant “Climbing the Head Start Career Ladder,” was followed with a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Teachers of Excellence Education grant.
CMN facilities are located at Keshena on 52 acres (10 buildings) and in Green Bay at one leased building, the Oneida site. CMN facilities house: Administration, Academic Affairs, Finance, and Education Divisions and Departments. CMN employs 164 faculty and staff; 31 full-time and 2 part-time and 12 adjunct faculty. The educational attainment of all faculty/staff includes: 13 Ph.D.’s, 52 master’s degrees, 43 baccalaureates, 18 associate’s degrees and 8 technical/trades credentials. CMN’s Teacher Education faculty consists of two doctorate degrees, three master’s degrees and one staff member with an associate’s degree.
CMN’s Teacher Education program fits into the overall strategic plan that prioritizes institutional stability and sustainability, evaluates program delivery, and fosters collaborative relationships with external stakeholders. First of all, to support institutional stability, Teacher Education programming responds to market analysis and community need bringing increased numbers to CMN. Second, Teacher Education executes both CMN’s Letters and Science Program Review and Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC’s) Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) institutional documentation of data-driven decision-making. Third, CMN Teacher Education develops and institutes ground breaking program delivery, establishing research-based curriculum and instruction with multiple and continuous assessments for accrediting agencies and institutional program review.
CMN’s Teacher Education adds to the CMN’s strategic planning with a “niche” in the field of teacher preparation through its incorporation of culture and emphasis in mathematics and science. In addition, Teacher Education fosters collaboration with K-12 schools in CMN’s service area that expands external communications between CMN and local schools regarding similar tribal, state, and federal standards.
Rationale for Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (Birth – Age 11)
The College of Menominee Nation’s Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education program responds to the need for classroom teachers with an emphasis in mathematics and science who service American Indian students and who know, understand, are capable of implementing and assessing the cultural experience of American Indian children: a mandate enacted by tribal authorities (Menominee Tribal Legislature Ordinance 96-22, 1996, 2006; Villa-Gomez,1996, Waukechon, 2006;Weso, 2007; Stancavage & Mitchell, 2006; Gilbert, 2007).
The growing need for elementary school teachers emanates from increased population and calls for culturally responsive approaches to teaching and learning. Promotion, protection, preservation and enhancement of language, culture and tradition has been a continued educational interest of Wisconsin tribes. During the treaty-making era to the present, education has been a primary consideration of American Indian tribes. Prior to boarding school days, the Menominee built their own school houses and classes were taught by Menominee using a bilingual approach (Teller, 2006).
Over the last century, Menominee, Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee, Ojibwe bands and Ho-Chunk each sent children to boarding schools within their region or to out of state boarding schools. After Wisconsin boarding schools closed, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) day schools flourished along with church schools K-8. Beginning in the late sixties, tribes began to establish their own schools: namely, Milwaukee Indian Community School, 1970; Menominee Alternative School, 1974; Menominee Indian School District, 1976; Menominee Tribal School, 1987; Oneida Nation Turtle School, 1979.
More recently, the Lac Court Orielles and Menominee joined the tribal college movement and remain the only two tribal colleges in Wisconsin. These two postsecondary institutions received accreditation in 1993 and 1998 respectively and continue today carrying out the tribal mandates by providing career opportunities at the post-secondary level. At the forefront of this charge is the Menominee Language and Culture Code first legislated sixteen years ago and reaffirmed six years later (Menominee Tribal Legislature Ordinance No. 96-22, 1996, 2006) to promote, protect, perpetuate and nurture American Indian culture. In preparing its own teachers of American Indian children, the College of Menominee Nation builds on long standing tribal values of living within a community, caring for each other, sharing tribal ways of living, and more importantly, flourishing in community. In today’s world, preparing teachers who know, understand, implement, and assess the cultural experience of American Indian children also carries with it the charge to care and protect tribal natural resources.
The College of Menominee Nation’s Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education program also responds to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Educational Excellence (Spector, 2004) to ibcrease the diversity of teachers in Wisconsin especially in under-served geographic areas (rural reservations) and within understaffed-content areas such as mathematics and science.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) Supply and Demand (Fischer & Swanger, 2006) projections for state school districts show an above average supply of elementary and early childhood and kindergarten teachers. However, the Department of Workforce Development (Grosso, 2006) cites high needs for teachers in job-dense urban areas such as the Green Bay which is in Oneida country.
For Menominee country, schools that service American Indian students are located on and near the Menominee reservation. In the Shawano County profile, elementary school teachers are listed among “best prospects” (Grosso, 2006). While the Department of Workforce Development projections favor job-dense areas like Green Bay and Shawano, the Menominee Indian tribe reports steady increases in population over the last three decades – increases of 29%, 15%, and 25% within the confines of the reservation (Kowalkowski, 2004); increasing numbers of families whose school age children increase school enrollment on and near the reservations.
Description of Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (EC-MC) Program
The College of Menominee Nation has issued 120 AAS degrees for Early Childhood since 1998. When Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (EC-MC) Program first began offering 300 level courses, 17 students comprised the first Teacher Education class in the fall of 2009, formally admitted after receiving their Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) degree in Early Childhood from CMN. The first graduating class (2011) numbered six, four of whom work with the Menominee Indian HeadStart program (2 students continuing in their jobs and 2 new hires as classroom teachers). The fifth student was hired by the Menominee Indian School District at the Kindergarten level and the sixth is the Skills Lab Coordinator for CMN. Currently there are 2 potential graduates spring 2012. In the upcoming fall semester 3 students have been approved for Student Teaching and in the spring, 8 more will be seeking application to Student Teaching.
The College of Menominee Nation enrolls over 700 students mostly female, single with dependents; over 70% are of tribal descent – mainly Menominee, Oneida, and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. Students claiming tribal descent represent 60% of the Teacher Education enrollment and are almost all female and many single mothers. All CMN coursework is delivered face-to-face with the exception of ITV courses shared between the Keshena and Green Bay campuses. Very few Teacher Education courses are offered in this manner as most students are on or near the Menominee reservation.