Sunday, August 1, 2021
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Letters: Failed leadership is to blame

The recent story concerning the Navajo Bureau of Indian Education schools not receiving their computers in time for our children’s education are an absolute disgrace (“The Bureau of Indian Education hasn’t told the public how its schools are performing”, June 10, 2021).

We could go on and on placing blame on the Bureau of Indian Education for their incompetence, but it is both the administration (President Nez and Vice President Lizer) and the Council who have failed to exercise good judgment and sound leadership making sure that the Department of Diné Education and the BIE are on top of things.

This disregard of our children’s education to ensure that the Department of Diné Education is working together with the Navajo BIE office seems like a simple task to handle, but we are learning over and over that for this administration and for those they employ, these examples continue to illustrate the failed leadership approach by this administration.

Apart from having reliable computers for all students, how could things have been better?

It could mean setting up temporary classrooms in civic centers, the large school gym, or any large building with adequate ventilation.

Or even erecting large event-style tents in parking lots that allow for social distancing.

It could mean recruiting an army of substitute teachers to help reduce class sizes. We would be considering sweeping changes to the calendar and making sure teachers are prioritized for vaccine distribution.

Or imagine if the tribe and BIE agreed to suspend school in January and February until students and staff could return in March, either in alternate buildings or with vaccinations or both.
To salvage the current school year and invest in our children’s future, we need more creative, unconventional solutions to this crisis.

Every and all options should be on the table, yet here we are forcing simple choices — open or not, in-person or virtual — on local school officials.

Schools are following the path they think is best, but they are limited in their choices because of a lack of imagination and support for the type of bold thinking needed here.

We are failing our children by not doing everything in our power to keep them in schools safely.

And unlike the virus, there is no vaccine on the horizon that promises to fix it.

It is time for new leadership!

Donald Benally
Shiprock, N.M.


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