The newly appointed head of the Crow Education Department plans on making revitalization of the Crow language a priority.
“We’re experiencing a collapse in the fluency rate,” Dr. Janine Pease told the Billings Gazette, which reported her appointment to the position March 11.
Pease pointed out that the fluency rate among two day care programs with 40 children and a head start program with 305 is only five percent, compared with 40 percent among the children’s parents. She intends to boost language immersion in both programs.
Pease also plans on increasing academic achievement at Lodge Grass High and Plenty Coups High—two of the tribe’s high schools—and increasing high school graduation rates.
“Obviously academic achievement is a huge issue,” Pease told the Gazette. “It’s important for our kids to have a chance for a sound education at all levels.”
Crow Tribe Chairman Cedric Black Eagle appointed Pease—who was most recently vice president for academic and vocational programs at Fort Peck Community College—to lead the tribe’s education department.
She will oversee a staff or eight and holds master’s and doctorate degrees in adult and higher education from Montana State University.
The appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Crow Legislature February 23.
“Education for all the Crow people at all levels is a highest priority for our Crow national development,” Black Eagle told the Gazette. “Dr. Pease brings specific knowledge and experience of adult, vocational and college services, special programs for school-aged children, tribal language initiatives and workforce development training.”
And Pease is ready for the challenge.
“It’s an extremely important time to have leadership in education, and I’m happy to be that leader, along with many others who are concerned and want to help,” she told the Gazette.