By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Rocky Boy native and longtime educator Edward Parisian has been tapped to become director of the Office of Indian Education Programs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.
"I want to focus on implementing No Child Left Behind," Parisian said Friday in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., referring to President Bush's education plan. "I think it's very important that schools be accountable and that we have results."
Parisian was appointed by the acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Aurene Martin, according to a press release.
"Ed Parisian is well known in Indian education for his leadership, experience and commitment to quality education," Martin said in the press release. "I am pleased that he has accepted this new assignment to bring accountability and improvement to BIA schools."
Parisian will oversee a BIA-funded education system that consists of 147,000 students - most of them K-12 - in 185 schools across 23 states. He previously held the same position between 1989 and 1992, he said, but stepped down for family reasons.
Prior to that, he was superintendent of schools at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, starting in 1983, the press release said. He also served several years as chief executive officer of the Rocky Boy Health Board and was superintendent of Heart Butte Schools on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Parisian was education line officer for the BIA's Northern Pueblos Agency in New Mexico from 2000 to 2002. He has also taught courses in human growth and development at Stone Child College. He has also served two years as president of the National Indian Education Association.
As part of his work in education at the national level, he evaluated more than 30 Indian education programs across several Western states including Montana, as well as in Mississippi and Washington, D.C., according to the press release.
"I've seen and operated schools on a local level and I think that's key to being successful here" in Washington, he said.
Former colleagues said Parisian is the right man for the job.
"He is a good man, works hard - works tremendously hard - and is a good ambassador for Indian country and always has been," said Stone Child College president Steve Galbavy, who worked under Parisian as a teacher at Rocky Boy between 1983 and 1990, and then worked with Parisian when Parisian was a member of the college's board in 1998.
"He's a good boss," Galbavy said. "He can be tough, but if you do your job he can be a good boss."
"I think Eddie's probably one of the leading Indian administrators in the nation, really, and probably has been for the last 20 years," said Edward Stamper, the foundations and research director at Stone Child College.
Stamper said he worked for Parisian when Parisian was the first director of the Rocky Boy Tribal Education Department in the early 1980s, shortly after it began administering programs controlled by the BIA. Stamper said Parisian was directly responsible for an increase in the number of tribal members graduating with two- and four-year degrees during those years.
Parisian received a bachelor's in physical education from Eastern Montana College in 1974 and went on to earn a master's in educational administration from the University of South Dakota in 1977, according to the press release.
Parisian said he is looking forward to the opportunity personally as well as professionally.
"Personally it's a great place to be," he said. Parisian said there are many historical sites he did not get to visit the first time he was there.
He is married and has two children.