OTTAWA -- The federal government is trying to salvage its plan to reform First Nations education -- a plan that's been under siege from chiefs far and wide.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has written an open letter urging aboriginal leaders to reconsider an education bill that would put more control in the hands of First Nations themselves.

The letter is a response to an earlier missive from national chief Shawn Atleo, who last month laid out five conditions for moving ahead with reforms.

Valcourt says the government plan already meets all five conditions, and also deals with issues raised by the federal auditor general in a 2011 report.

Valcourt also points out that chiefs have directed Atleo and the Assembly of First Nations to continue working with the government.

Graduation rates among aboriginal children are dramatically lower than among non-aboriginal children -- a long-standing impediment to prosperity that all sides believe needs to be addressed.