Anchorage School Board candidate questions, and who I am voting for



Four of the seven seats on the Anchorage School Board are up for election April 6.  Ballots go in the mail on March 15.

Typically, only two and sometimes three seats are elected at a time. All School Board seats are elected city-wide, so whether you live in Girdwood or Birchwood you get to vote for all four seats. 

I believe the public schools are the foundation of America’s greatness. We need an excellent public school system to have the educated public that is essential for our democratic-republic’s success. This is a chance to change the left-wing direction of the past 15 years of progressive failing curriculum and unacceptable educational outcomes for our kids.  

Many people have been asking who I am voting for?  So as a private citizen and not on behalf of the School District or Board these are some of my choices and questions for all candidates.

Judy Norton Eledge – Seat B

I have known Judy for over 20 years, and I am proud to support her. Judy is a veteran teacher and grandmother who now teaches teachers how to better teach reading.  She has 40 years of teaching experience in ASD and rural Alaska.  Judy is an energetic dynamo who gets things done.  We absolutely need to prioritize getting all our students reading by third grade and Judy has the expertise combined with common sense to lead us there.  She will support bringing the National Anthem and patriotism back into our schools.

Sami Graham – Seat E

Sami has her Alaska State Certification in teaching, counseling, and school administration. Sami has served as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, and principal. She worked in Title 1 (low-income area) schools, neighborhood schools, optional schools and in the private setting. She has a Master of Science from Long Island University and her Master of Educational Leadership from UAA. Sami also supports bringing patriotism back into our schools.  Her experience and knowledge will be a great asset on the School Board.

Elisa Vakalis – Seat G

I have served with current Board President Vakalis for four years and know what a hard worker for our students she is.  She has been a bridge between conservatives and liberals on the Board. I supported her for Board President multiple times.  She is the only current Board Member running in this election, who voted with me to have the National Anthem played in our schools at least once a month.  She has voted with me for budget amendments to reduce non-classroom related administrative overhead.  

Some questions all candidates should be able to answer include:

1.         Do you support all schools playing the National Anthem at least once a week?

2.         Do you support the use of Critical Race Theory to develop Anchorage School District policy?

3.         Do you support the construction of two new schools (Inlet View and Abbott Loop) at a cost of over $70 million planned in the current Six Year Capital Plan?

4.         Do you support the new Math curriculum (Ready Mathematics), or would you support a return to the more traditional Saxon Math used by some of the highest performing schools in the District?

5.         Do you support requiring teachers to use the current elementary reading curriculum?

Please vote like our country and our children’s future depends on it, because it does.

Dave Donley writes as an individual Alaskan and not on behalf of the School Board, ASD, or anyone else.


  1. I’ve got a better idea. You answer the question as to whether you support Critical Race Theory and other nonsensical BS concepts intended to brand those primarily of northern European ancestry as tyrannic monsters guilty of whatever the next delicate little flower invents.

    • Of what value is the recommendation of a man that sets esoteric benchmark questions but won’t define what a correct response might be?

      How about we all just recognize that our experiences and our influences are what define an individual’s view on matters of race. Someone without strong feelings either way doesn’t care to listen to the ramblings of someone suggesting they should think this way or that, and someone that does have strong feelings in that area will never be influenced by a brush with a nonsensical wiki article’s clownish perspective.

      If the family of a recently choked out black drug addicted criminal with a history of beating up women can be awarded $27mm of the public’s money then there’s a very real likelihood that soon you’ll see far more prejudice people than ever before. Don’t believe me? Listen to Louie Farakan jabber about ‘the cracker’s vaccine. It’s FB approved so it must be right, no?

  2. Thanks, Dave. I appreciate your positions and service on the School Board. I never know who else to vote for, so thanks for the heads up. One vote each for Sami and Elisa from me.

  3. Critical race theory huh? Sounds like another attempt to put the blame on a certain group of people that are not guilty of anything other than living their lives. Don’t cast the blame previous generations on the current one. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel on the next best thing that comes down the pike to improve curriculum. It worked fine for my group with big fat black pencils and big Chief notebooks. You want kids to increase and test scores? Read to them from an early age. Read to them everyday. Take them places so that their little brains can develop the synapses that can create future connections to enhance their learning ability. If you just do the same thing day in day out from the time you can crawl until you graduate high school your brain is going to be starved for growth. You have to develop those connections in the brain so that learning can happen. If you don’t, then you’re going to get the results that you currently have with low test scores. Don’t blame it on the teachers although I have seen some pretty crappy teachers in Alaska. Blame it on the parents for not being the type of parents that it takes to have world class students. It’s a generational thing. More than likely their parents were the same way and on and on. Society in Alaska has to break the mold instead of coming up with a new way to reinvent an old wheel. The wheel doesn’t need to be invented we already have it.

  4. Dave people say you are worth listening to and a person of character so please answer the questions so I can vote with confidence for your recommendations. We need to take back our state at all levels.

  5. I’d like to ask all of them if they’ve read our constitution and bill of rights. Do they know that Sept 16th is Constitution Day and federal law says all students must study the constitution that day (applies to schools receiving federal funds)?

  6. 1) National anthem: at this level, waste of time, “Jose can you see….”
    2) WTF is Critical Race Theory. Sounds a little like phrenology to me. We’re all what are called “human beings.”
    3) Well…the kids do need a place to go to learn. I’d be more in favor of spending the money to pay for highly competent teachers, as long as the rooves don’t fall in on the kids.
    4) Hah, hah, good one. Who among us seriously knows what each of these methods is? Please, Dave, I’d like to get your exegesis on this. You are, of course, an expert on mathematical pedagogy, or else you wouldn’t bring this up. Right?
    5) …and, of course, you are up to date on reading pedagogy as well.
    How’s about we leave the teaching to the teachers and deal with the details of giving them the best tools with which to do their jobs? Has that ever entered into the equations, or is it just about who wants to impose his latest theories on how to indoctrinate our kids, as opposed to teaching them the skills needed for critical thinking?

    • Saxon Math and a good phonics curriculum such as “Spaulding Writing on the Road to Reading” is a clear process covering all elementary grades
      and adults.
      However from the tone of your response, I have no fear that you would access anything that would benefit the children to the cost of offending “Whole Language” sight taught teachers.
      I take too the exception that increasing monatary bids with these same teaching staff doing the same over and over expecting, (actually I wonder at times if there are expectations of improvement) better results.One has to respect the raw power the Teacher unions have and the sway over PTA’s.
      In our system the continued failure rate of 50% struggling and failing students continue with out abatement.
      Good luck with electing teachers to the school board in any instance.
      Just saying.
      A.M.Johnson- Recalled school Board member, one of five, for attempting to change the system K-3 with reading and math.

  7. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic are we, Dave?
    Judy, Sami, and Elisa seem like decent, gentle people who, by definition, seem most unlikely to:
    … smack the teachers union and friends down to size, “teach” ’em once and for all the tail don’t wag the damned dog,
    … derail Anchorage education industry’s billion-dollar gravy train,
    … put cameras in classrooms so Anchorage taxpayers can see and hear archived videos of what children are “taught”.
    … commission an external forensic audit of school district finances and management practices,
    … propose contracting out school district management and teacher positions to an organization nationally recognized for classic academic excellence,
    … or come up with an enforceable plan to raise Anchorage School District from one of America’s most expensive, worst performing wrecks to one among America’s top 10 within, say, 5 years,
    … and terminate school-district lobbyist contracts.
    To Dave we say, not unkindly, even if Judy, Sami, and Elisa somehow get past Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in vote scheme, Anchorage’s education industry won’t automatically start producing classically educated, literate, well-behaved, patriotic, employable graduates at reasonable cost.
    There’s a reason Anchorage’s education industry works so hard to keep its place among America’s worst performing, most expensive.
    …and you can bet, Dave, that you, Judy, Sami, and Elisa won’t be allowed anywhere near it.

    • Stop blaming teachers and admin. It’s the parents fault for not raising kids right. They never developed the synapses to effective pass a standardized test.

      • Surely some parents aren’t blameless, others… one wonders why others bother to reproduce, then there’s those who seem to regard school simply as government-operated day care.
        But parents, good, bad, or indifferent don’t have a powerful union, paid lobbyists, don’t own politicians, can’t get whatever they want from a “school board”.
        Parents aren’t officially protected from producing generations of functional illiterates. Most parents don’t get to say when or where they feel like coming to work, they’re not shielded from China flu hysteria that’s wrecked so many lives and livelihoods.
        Parents don’t know what’s taught in classrooms any more than they know what’s taught in an operating room, cockpit, or any other venue protected from routine public scrutiny.
        But they get the bill in one form or another and they get the socially conscious, functionally illiterate, self-absorbed product… and now they get the mental cases, inevitable byproducts of China flu school closures, which aren’t so easy to explain away.
        So, you’re probably right… some parents aren’t perfect, but whatever their sins, they didn’t create Anchorage’s billion-dollar education industry that seems accountable to no one for anything.
        So, yes we emphatically blame every government son of a (whoops! can’t say that!)… Anchorage education industry person who took money to create and perpetuate this disaster.
        There’s no law to fit the crime they commit, but they get to live with the consequences of what they do, which should be punishment enough

  8. Quote: “To Dave we say, not unkindly, even if Judy, Sami, and Elisa somehow get past Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in vote scheme, Anchorage’s education industry won’t automatically start producing classically educated, literate, well-behaved, patriotic, employable graduates at reasonable cost.
    There’s a reason Anchorage’s education industry works so hard to keep its place among America’s worst performing, most expensive.
    …and you can bet, Dave, that you, Judy, Sami, and Elisa won’t be allowed anywhere near it.”

    BINGO!!! In a nutshell!!!

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