The late Sen. John Pinto stands in front of a sign denoting gratitude to state legislators. Pinto, D-Tohatchi, was instrumental in securing large amounts of funding over the years for Diné College.
Photo Credit: Ed McCombs/Diné College
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2019
TSAILE, Ariz. — The $11.8 billion budget passed this week by Arizona legislators includes a $1 million appropriation for developmental education at Diné College.
The allocation solely pertains to Diné College and no other tribal college in the Four Corners. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the budget Monday evening.
“The Arizona State Legislature voted to step up after 50 years to right the wrongs of history,” State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron, said. Peshlakai sponsored the bill and Rep. Arlando Teller, D-Chinle, sponsored a House mirror bill. “Our (Legislative District 7) legislators worked with the Diné College president, the director of legislative affairs and policy and staff at Diné College to achieve what many thought was impossible. For the first time, Arizona appropriated to the College for developmental education for the next three years.”
An estimated 88 percent of students entering Diné College year-round must take remedial math, reading and English courses — and those classes are on average repeated at least twice.
Diné College President Charles Roessel said the funds would definitely be put to good use. Currently, he said the college spends approximately $1.3 million a year on remedial education. With the new funding, Roessel said, there are plans to work with area high schools to target at-risk juniors and seniors to eliminate the gap.
“This allows high school students the opportunity to become college-ready,” Roessel said. “This (remediation) is not only a reality within schools of our area, but everywhere. We get students from Kingman, Tucson, Flagstaff — as well as the Navajo Nation. This helps a lot of students.”
Roessel noted that the college will pay for the Accuplacer test — a test which is used to determine if post-secondary students possess the aptitude for college-level courses in reading, writing and mathematics.
Diné College Vice President of Student Affairs Glennita Haskey, who oversees the Pre-college program, said, “Our College recently received its four-year institutional status and looks forward to continuing to expand our academic programs and educational opportunities. As we plan for the future, we stand committed to those in need of developmental education.”
Haskey said that Diné College is continuing the Pre-college program this summer. Last summer, students came from Chemawa Indian School (Oregon), Holbrook, Ganado, St. Michaels, Many Farms, Navajo Prep, Greyhills, Miyamura (Gallup, N.M.), Chinle and Monument Valley high schools. Haskey reiterated, “With the newly appropriated funding of $1 million from the state, we will continue to expand our developmental education across our Arizona centers.”
Diné College is a four-year institution that was created in 1968 as the first tribally-controlled college in the U.S. It has six campuses — four of which are located in Tuba City, Window Rock, Chine and Tsaile.
A Scholarship Honoring the late Sen. John Pinto Planned
Roessel revealed that male and female scholarships honoring the late Sen. John Pinto are not far from becoming a reality at Diné College. Pinto, D-Tohatchi, a former Navajo Code Talker and the longest serving legislator in the history of the New Mexico Senate, passed away May 24 at the age of 94.
Pinto was instrumental in securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding for a Land Grant Research Center in Crownpoint, a Business Center for Horticulture and Agriculture in Shiprock and $5 million for a Math and Science Center in Shiprock. The main library at Diné College’s Shiprock campus carries Pinto’s name.
“He was the voice of Diné College in the New Mexico Legislature,” Roessel said.