CN immersion school receives state funding
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Language Immersion School was one of three state charter schools that received state funds in early January.
Records show the school, which has grades ranging from pre-school to sixth grade, received $465,179.
In June, the Tribal Council gave approval to the tribe’s Education Services to apply for state charter school status for the immersion school, which is part of Sequoyah Schools.
The Oklahoma Charter Schools Act provides for creation of charter schools when sponsored by “a federally recognized Indian tribe, operating a high school under the authority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs…if the charter school is for the purpose of demonstrating native language immersion instruction and is located within its former reservation or treaty area boundaries.”
Charter schools receive public money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.
The immersion school serves more than 100 students, and all teachers in the school are fluent in the Cherokee language and certified by the state, the act stated in June.
The immersion school began in 2001 as a program for pre-school children to be immersed in the Cherokee language by having teachers who spoke and taught only in Cherokee.
Sixth grade was added to the school in the fall and those sixth grade students will transition next fall to the seventh grade at Sequoyah’s middle school. The sixth grade class currently has nine students who have been with the immersion program since its commencement.
While attending the immersion school, students learn the Cherokee culture and history as well as other subjects such as science and math. English study is introduced to the students in the fifth grade to help transition them into a more traditional school setting.