A new policy development by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and Native American tribes could pave the way for Native American languages to be taught in classrooms.

The policy allows for individuals with Native American language proficiency to apply for a Native Language Teacher Certificate at the ADE. In addition to the language proficiency approved by their own tribes, other requirements would include a finger print clearance card, an application fee and be subject to renewal.

The policy went into immediate effect and is anticipated as a new avenue for elders and other non-degreed language experts to teach only native languages to students in Arizona schools. Many of these languages are considered critically endangered and at risk for extinction.

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