Bright Futures fights Adair County truancy problems
STILWELL, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Bright Futures Truancy Prevention Program is attempting to fight high dropout rates in Adair County where nearly half of the schools’ populations are Cherokee.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education Dropout Reports, 123 students dropped out of Adair County high schools during the 2006-07 academic year. Eighty-four of them were reported to be Native American. Bright Futures was established four years ago because of such numbers.
“A few years back, we were seeing a lot of kids that were in the juvenile justice system, so we kind of did some interviews with juvenile justice through the state and then found that truancy is kind of like the gateway to delinquency in a lot of cases,” said J.R. Claphan, court truancy advocate.
Bright Futures advocates act as intermediaries between the county courts, the schools and the families involved, said Claphan. Social workers receive referrals from schools at certain stages of a student’s attendance problems.
Schools contact Bright Futures after a student’s third absence, said school advocate Letisha Locust. The advocates then go to the family to discover the cause of the student’s absences. Reasons for truancy usually vary on a case-by-case basis. Once a student reaches seven absences, their parents are then ticketed and the family is brought into truancy court.
Locust said the most common cause for truancy issues is the lack of respect for a proper education on behalf of the parents.
“They just don’t value it (education). I don’t know how many parents I’ve had with teenagers that have told me, ‘Well, they’re old enough to make their own decisions,’” Locust said. “They just let them do what they want to do at that point.”
Claphan said shyness is a major reason why students do not want to attend school. He said when students come from small schools such as Bell or Dahlonegah, they receive “culture shock” when transitioning to a freshman class that is larger than their previous school combined.
“You may not even see the people from your school, you know, you kind of get lost,” Claphan said. “you may be 14 years old, but you’re in there with kids that are 18, 19, and I think a lot of it is that it scares a lot of them. It’s a big transition for them.”
Claphan said the program receives help from Judge Elizabeth Brown, a CN citizen who initiated the truancy court several years ago.
“I’ve been to some administrator meetings, and I’m told by them they believe it is working,” Brown said in a 2011 Cherokee Phoenix article. “I think it’s working. You can see a drastic change in the attendance of most of the children.”
That change is evident by the decreasing number of dropouts in the Native community since the program’s initiation. The 2007 dropout report showed that 84 Native students left school. In 2008, that number decreased to 52. A year later, there were only 18 Native American students who dropped out of an Adair County high school. However, those numbers have seen a rise again the past two years, with 20 and 34 dropouts in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
“Sometimes they can make you feel like you’re just beating your head against the wall, and then there’s that one moment where you’re like, ‘OK, it’s working. Thank you,” Locust said.
ᏍᏗᎵᏪᎵ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ.– ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏍᎪᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᎫᏗᏗᏒ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏲᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎴᏫᏍᏙᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎶ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᏴ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ.
ᏚᎾᏙᎵᏤᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢ ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏅ, ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᏦᎢ ᏯᏂ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏑᎵᎪᏣ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎶ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏑᏓᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎦᎵᏉᎩ ᏚᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ. ᏁᎵᏍᎪ ᏅᎩ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎬᏅ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎤᏍᎪᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᎪᏗᏗᏒ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏅ ᏅᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ.
“ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ, ᎣᏥᎪᏩᏘᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎩᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏗᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᏚᏓᎸᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏁᏙᎲ, ᎾᎯᏳ ᏙᏣᏛᏛᎮᏢᏅ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎩᏩᏛᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏄᏓᎸᎬ ᏗᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᎤᏟᏁᏨ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ J. R. Claphan, ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᎤᎦᏛᏂᏙᎯ.
ᎤᏍᎪᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᎫᏗᏗᏒ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎪᏩᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᏓᎾᏟᏃᎮᏗᏍᎪ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ, ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸᎢ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Claphan. ᏗᏂᏍᏕᎸᎯᏙ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁ ᏓᏂᏁᏍᎪ ᏂᏙᏓᏳᏂᏅᏅ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮎ ᎢᎦ ᏂᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ.
ᏧᎾᏕᎶᎪᏍᏗ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏫᎾᏅᏁᎰ ᎤᏍᎪᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᎫᏗᏗᏒ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ ᏱᏄᏅᏓ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏗᏕᎦ Letisha Locust. ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏕᎦ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗ ᏃᏊ ᎠᏁᎪ ᏏᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᏁᎪ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᏂᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᏂᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓᏊ ᎨᏐ. ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎦᎵᏉᎩ ᏱᏄᏅᏓ, ᏧᏂᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎨᏥᏅᏁᎰ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏭᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ.
Locust ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᎪᏍᎬ ᏄᏂᎲᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏚᎵᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎪᏛ ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎬ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏩᏙᏗᏍᎪ.
“ᏝᏊᏃ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏱᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎰ (ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ). Ꮭ ᏯᏆᏅᏔ ᏯᏂ ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎩᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏧᏂᎧᎯ ᎬᎩᏃᎯᏎᎲ, ᎡᎵᏆᏛ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎤᏅᏌ ᏧᏄᎪᏙᏗᎢ,” Locust ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎠᏁᎵᏍᎬ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᏓᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏓᏁᎰᎢ.”
Claphan ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᏕᎰᏍᎬ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎪ Ꮭ ᏳᎾᏚᎵᏍᎪ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ. ᎤᏛᏅᏃ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᏓᏳᏂᎩᏓ ᏱᎩ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎤᎭᎸᏂ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎳᎾᎩ, “ᎤᏂᏍᎦᏍᏓᏁᎰ” ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏐᏁᎵᏁ ᏳᏭᎾᎴᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎨᏴ ᎤᏔᏅ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏃ ᏧᎾᏂᎩᏒᎢ.
“ᏝᏃ ᏱᏘᎪᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏗᏣᏕᎶᏆᎥ, ᏃᏊᏃ ᏣᏍᎦᏍᏓᏁᎰ” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Claphan. “ᎡᎵᏊᏃ ᏂᎦᏚ ᎢᏣᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏱᎩ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏁᎳᏚ ᎠᎴ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏐ, ᎠᎴ ᎨᎵᏍᎪ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᎤᏂᏍᎦᏍᏓᏁᎭ. ᎢᎦ ᎠᏓᏁᏟᏴᏍᎪ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎤᎾᏅᏛ.”
Claphan ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎤᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᏗᎫᎪᏗᏍᎩ Elizabeth Brown, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏂᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎾ ᏱᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ.
“ᎠᏇᏙᎳ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬ, ᎠᎴ ᎬᎩᏃᎯᏎᎳ ᎤᏃᎯᏳ ᎣᏏ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Brown ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏌᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅ ᎪᏪᎸ. “ᎨᎵᏍᎬ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ.”
ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏓᏁᏟᏴᏒ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᏣᏕᎶᎰᏍᎬ ᎠᎦᏲᎶᎬ ᎠᏂᏑᎵᎪᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᏙᏢ ᏓᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᎬᏩᎾᎴᏅᏓ. ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᎦᎵᏉᎩ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏍᏒ ᎤᏂᏑᎵᎪᏨᎢ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎬᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏁᎳᏍᎪ ᏅᎩ ᏯᏂ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏌ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏧᏁᎳ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᏗᏎᏍᏗ ᎡᎳᏓ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᎾ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎦᏍᎪ ᏔᎵ ᏃᏊ. ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓᏊ ᎣᏂ, ᏁᎳᏚᏊ ᎾᏂᎥ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎹᎵᎦ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏑᎵᎪᏨᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎶ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏗᏎᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏌᎳᏗᎠ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎵ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏂᏓᎬᏩᎴᏅᏓ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏦᏍᎪ ᏅᎩ ᎤᏂᏑᎵᎪᏨ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏌᏚ ᏚᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᎾᏍᎩ.
“ᎢᏴᏓᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎪᎱᏍᏓᏊ ᏄᏰᎵᏛᎾ ᏅᏫᏍᏙ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎥᏛᏁᎲ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏔᏬᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓᏛ ᏂᎦᏛᏁ ᎡᎵᏍᏓ ᎨᏐ, ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪᎢ. ᏩᏙ ᎠᏗᏍᎬ LocustᎢ.