Shiprock Chapter President Duane Chili Yazzie made a recent statement, to me and in public that he is concerned our school district thinks we know what is best for our students, implying he has an issue with us, and disagrees with our educational process.

I find his statement troubling, as well as his refusal to give up the microphone when his time was up during public comment unless we submitted to his demands during the May 9, special school board meeting in Shiprock. I have known him since 2001 and have never seen him yell in public and show disrespect.

The Central Consolidated School District and our parents, Chapters, and the Navajo Nation want our students to be successful and competitive today, and to continue that success in college or post-secondary vocational school and in their careers. We believe education is the key.

Our state public school district operates on the Navajo Nation because the 14th Amendment to the Constitution its equal protection clause means citizens of our country are entitled to equality in all aspects of life. It means citizens are equally entitled to the same education, with the same facilities, no matter where they live in our country.

This was further spelled out 60 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. The Board of Education, which ended the concept of "separate but equal," or segregation, where public schools were separated by race. We are also here because our host, the Navajo Nation, allows us to be here.

Our district is doing everything it can to raise student test scores and to show growth utilizing Common Core State Standards and deep curriculum alignment with state testing. In the five years I have been with the district, I have not seen Mr. Yazzie at any board meetings until May 9, or show any interest in our district's goals, which is student success. Instead he has pre-judged us.

Our district did not invent the current educational reform mandated by the state that has swept across the country. Our district did not write the 14th Amendment, or issue the ruling in Brown v. The Board of Education.

But we follow these mandates, including a Memorandums of Understanding with the Navajo Nation, because we believe others, such as Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Federal Courts, the New Mexico State Legislature, the U.S. Department of Education, the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Navajo Nation, and our Chapters and communities, as well as our teachers and administration, have the best interests of our students at heart.

We have immense challenges. But we are moving forward.

I would encourage, and hope, that Mr. Yazzie thinks about these things.


James Preminger

Public Relations and Information Officer

Central Consolidated School District