Coeur d’Alene Education Pipeline
In response to diminishing graduation rates, in 2006 tribal members convened several public meetings to discuss how the Tribe could strengthen the capacity of its people to reduce poverty and improve the overall quality of reservation life.
By 2007, and continually refined ever since, the Pipeline was spurred by the Tribe’s acknowledgment of two fundamental facts: first, that in order to develop the workforce it needs to create the future it wants, CDA would have to become a primary decision maker in the various education systems that were educating its people31; and second, that building this capable workforce demanded that it start at the beginning and focus on the root causes of what was standing in the way of its people’s success. Taking visual form (see Figure 2), the Pipeline presents a comprehensive illustration of the Tribe’s existing state of affairs regarding education and workforce development. It features 15 chronologically sequenced, educational groupings: Early Child, Primary (K-2), and so on, up through high school and GED programs, various post-secondary tracks, graduate degrees, and professional degrees. Ideally, individuals enter the Pipeline when they are infants, remain in the Pipeline with the Tribe’s support as they move from one educational stage to the next, and emerge at the end of Pipeline as prepared, productive members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and community. The number of students in each grouping is tracked above the Pipeline visual. For K-12, this includes non-Native students, who make up about half of the population of Plummer-Worley’s schools. These numbers track how many students are moving through the Pipeline at any given point. Meanwhile, below the Pipeline visual is an inventory of the programs; support mechanisms; and local, regional, and federal partners currently working within each segment of the Pipeline.32 This inventory not only features the Tribe’s Early Childhood Learning Center, local schools, and DOE’s higher education programs, but also “family services, out-of-school-time programs, sports, tutoring, career programs, and college preparation programs.
Simply put, the Pipeline frames and drives everything DOE does. It empowers DOE to achieve its mission, which is to “implement the Tribe’s commitment to education which includes the enhancement of the social, moral, and economic well-being of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and its membership.”
Identify Gaps, Needs and Duplication
The pipeline is a visual mechanism helpful in illuminating gaps in services along each segment of the pipeline, enabling Department of Education to identify these gaps and work with community partners to fill these gaps. Ongoing development and analysis of the Education Pipeline helps DOE to identify policies, programs, grants, and resources needed to support tribal members’ successful growth along the Pipeline.
Identify and Address Critical Questions
The Pipeline serves as a road map in helping the Tribe to answer critical questions related to student success, or lack thereof. The process of collecting student data, analyzing the data for trends, monitoring student progress, and being present in our students lives has helped us move in a strategic direction towards student and family well-being.
Strategic Intentional Decision-Making
The Education Pipeline provides the Coeur d’Alene Tribe with a broad, strategic lens for decision-making as it figures out how best to support our people’s growth over the course of their lives. This internal decision-making approach supports the Tribe’s self-determination by observing everything that the Tribe has deemed as critical to its efforts to develop our human capacity on our own terms.
Targeted Programs and Services
Once there is a weakness or gap identified, Department of Education can hone in on a particular trouble spot along the Pipeline and plan, design and implement solutions to address those challenges. Targeted planning may involve a new strategic direction for existing programs in order to improve effectiveness, or starting from scratch, and planning, funding and implementing new programs and services. Sometimes this targeted approach helps us to identify Tribal members not being serviced on the Pipeline at all, signaling DOE to identify and address the reasons why, and then support the individual in either returning to school or entering the workforce.
Informs and Maps Measurable Outcomes
Short-term and long-term objectives are designed based upon the data collected along the Pipeline. Once the objectives are designed, programs and services are aimed at meeting a set of desired outcomes, which is monitored and assessed continuously and reported quarterly. The Pipeline acts as a ruler to help us see where we need to go and where we are falling short. The continuous collection of data, monitoring of programs, and measuring of outcomes helps ensure our commitment to fulfilling the mission of Department of Education and the Tribe.
Drives Communication and Coordination
Due to the extensive relationship-building and partnerships rooted in the structure of the Education Pipeline, communication and coordination are critical in sustaining Pipeline’s functionality. There is a constellation of external and regional partners that Department of Education relies on, as well as the Tribal government and local partners. There are teams of departments, community and regional partners that meet throughout the year to collectively strengthen and grow the Pipeline.
Rooted in Coeur d’Alene Values
The Pipeline provides a clear and powerful visual of the Tribe’s belief, value, and commitment to the education and well-being of its membership and community at large. It represents the Tribe’s values of membership, scholarship, stewardship, guardianship, and spirituality through its clear investment in our students, in our community, and in being a good neighbor to all. The Pipeline demonstrates high expectations for both leadership and its membership to assume its inherent Tribal Sovereignty through an increased obligation to improve education from cradle to career.