Dunleavy bills: Preserve parents’ rights in schools, and give bonuses for teacher retention and recruitment

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Surrounded by children, parents, and educators, Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced a pair of bills that give teachers bonuses and reinforce the rights of parents to safeguard their children from gender ideology policies that may be inflicted on families by local school districts.

One bill ensures transparency in schools by codifying parental rights and by requiring school districts to adopt procedures addressing the physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms in public schools.

The other bill is a teacher recruitment and retention incentive that will provide full-time, certified classroom teachers a cash payment each July for a period of three years.

Parental Rights in Education bill

The Parental Rights in Education bill amends Alaska’s education statutes to increase opportunities for parental involvement in their children’s education by creating meaningful notice and consent requirements.

“We believe it is absolutely crucial for parents to be engaged in the education of their kids,” Dunleavy said.

A bill passed in 2016 was an “opt out” approach for sexual education, he said. Now, with all that has happened in the past couple of years, it is evident there needs to be “informed consent,” Dunleavy said.

The bill clarifies existing statute requiring parental notification prior to discussing human reproduction or sexual matters to include gender identity and requires written permission for the child to participate in the activity, class or program. 

“Any idea that this is a ‘don’t say gay’ bill or anti-anything is wrong, it’s pro-parent,” he said.

The bill requires written permission from a parent before the name or pronoun used by a public school to address to the parent’s child is changed.

It also requires school districts to inform parents in writing of the right to pursue legal action against a school district if the parent’s rights have been violated.

“I’ve supported increasing parental involvement in education as a school principal and school board president. Then as a State Senator in 2016 I sponsored the bill that codified some parental rights in education in Alaska. This bill builds upon that work to increase family involvement and secure parental rights in education,” Dunleavy said. “Research shows that involving families more in a child’s education leads to better relationships and improved educational outcomes for students, and this bill will do just that.”

The bill also ensures that a school district does not selectively withhold information regarding a child’s physical, medical, or mental health from a parent, foster parent, or guardian unless a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure of the information would result in child abuse or neglect.

Currently, some school districts, including Anchorage, are making side arrangements with children to not only refer to them by different names than the ones given to them by their parents, but to refer to them by their preferred gender pronoun, without the knowledge of their parents.

“Parents need to be able to say whether they want their children to be part of this or they don’t,” he said. He said schools have begun to “play a game of cat and mouse with parents,” denying them the right to know what is going on with their children at school.

“Part of this bill would also prohibit sex and gender education before the fourth grade. We think it crucial that we focus on reading. we think it’s crucial that we focus on math,” he said.

Sen. Forrest Dunbar, Sen. Loki Gale (she/her) have introduced a mandatory sex-education bill, SB 43, that would require sex education to begin in kindergarten with what the government believes is “science-based sex ed.”

The governor’s bill, also recognizes every child’s right to privacy by requiring school districts to include procedures addressing the physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms as part of the school’s disciplinary and safety program.

This includes the privacy and gender separation of students in locker rooms.

“Physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms is to be addressed through the physical separation of students by biological sex, access to single occupant facilities, or other safety and privacy protocols consistent with A.S. 14.18.040.,” the statement from the governor said.

Already, liberal members of the Senate have privately stated they will kill this bill.

Teacher Retention and Recruitment Incentives

The Teacher Retention and Recruitment Incentive bill identifies cash payment tiers for each school district in the amount of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. The highest tier payments are directed to Alaska’s remote and rural schools. The $10,000 tier is targeted toward rural schools that, despite their remoteness, are sufficiently linked to Alaska’s urban networks to allow for more regular access to goods and services. The $5,000 tier is focused on incentivizing teachers in Alaska’s most urbanized areas. 

“As a former educator in rural Alaska, I know how big of a difference it makes when a teacher stays in a community for a longer period of time,” Dunleavy said. “The labor market for teachers is tight across the country, but this bill will help Alaska school districts recruit and retain qualified teachers for years to come.”

Under the terms of the bill, certified full-time teachers assigned to a classroom teaching assignment will receive a lump sum payment on, or around, July 1, 2024, July 1, 2025, and July 1, 2026.

In order to be eligible for the lump sum payment, a teacher must occupy a teaching position for the entirety of the school term for the school year immediately preceding the date of payment. The purpose of the bill is to provide a post-school year payment to encourage teachers to remain in Alaska for the entirety of the school year, thereby promoting continuity for Alaska’s students and maximizing education outcomes. 

This is a $58 million spend, the government said, and would be considered a three-year pilot program.

The Alaska Senate is trying to get a different bill passed that would increase the “base student allocation” for schools on a permanent basis. The Senate, run by liberals, is not likely to give the governor’s bill favorable treatment. The Senate is trying for a separate bill that would increase the base student allocation, which is the baseline funding for schools. Liberal senators are likely to try to tie the governor’s funding proposal to the BSA.

$5,000 Bonus Tier School Districts

Anchorage 

Fairbanks North Star Borough

Juneau Borough

Kenai Peninsula Borough

Matanuska-Susitna Borough

$10,000 Bonus Tier School Districts

Alaska Gateway

Aleutian Region

Aleutians East Borough

Annette Island

Chugach

Copper River

Cordova City

Delta/Greely

Denali Borough

Galena City

Haines Borough

Ketchikan Gateway Borough

Kodiak Island Borough

Mt. Edgecumbe High School

Nenana City

Nome Public Schools

Petersburg Borough

Saint Mary’s

Sitka

Skagway

Unalaska City

Valdez City

Wrangell Public

Yakutat

$15,000 Bonus School Districts

Bering Strait

Bristol Bay Borough

Chatham

Craig City

Dillingham City

Hoonah City

Hydaburg City

Iditarod Area

Kake City

Kashunamiut

Klawock City

Kuspuk

Lake and Peninsula Borough

Lower Kuskokwim

Lower Yukon

North Slope Borough

Northwest Arctic Borough

Pelican City

Pribilof

Southeast Island

Southwest Region

Tanana City

Yukon Flats

Yukon-Koyukuk

Yupiit

35 COMMENTS

  1. Why does he want to pay retention bonuses to statically some of the worse performing teachers in America?

    Sorry, this is stupid. If spineless lump wants a retention bonus, it needs to come with clearly measurable and definable criteria to earn said bonuses. And do it publicly so the taxpayers and parents can see who gets what.

    Otherwise it is literally rewarding failure and a classic example of what’s wrong with our approach to education.

  2. Thanks Governor Dunleavy for putting Alaska’s children first and ensuring parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. Parents need to rally around this legislation and inundate their legislators with strong support. The time has come for a great awakening!

  3. Hopefully bonuses are contingent on giving parents rights that are superior to any other parties. It would be wrong to pay union workers more without parents having the influence they deserve and historically had.

    As for increasing the BSA, money spent on non-3Rs should be redirected to 3Rs. We spend more than enough to have the best outcomes in the USA – for that matter the world. Perhaps match cuts to non-essential items with an increase to the BSA, as long as all money stays in the classroom.

  4. “it’s pro-parent”. You mean those parents who are forced to pay for and send their kids to a failing government system?

  5. Having to pay a bonus for the bush schools should tell you a lot about bush quality of life and safety. He should give out vouchers and let the schools figure out how to deliver a good education to stay in business. Can’t get teachers because the administration takes the lions share of the money so the teachers get the crumbs. Side note he should do a way with tenure so we can fire poor teachers.

  6. Aren’t bonuses usually given on merit? Our schools are failing our kids and we give bonuses just because they are teachers makes no sense if the kids grades don’t improve. Expect more of the same

    • Great point. And while we are at it, if we are giving bonuses to one group then it seems to me that pretty much any employee in the state should get one. Or, at the very least teachers working at private schools within AK should get bonuses as well.

  7. I suppose we can argue about rewarding schools for poor education results, and we can argue about many other unfortunate aspects of Alaska schools, but I must say that this plan makes much more sense than does returning to a defined benefit retirement for teachers and other public employees. Defined benefit retirement plans put a big axe over the future economy of Alaska, an axe that can fall at any time. Unlike Red China and the former Soviet Union we cannot require private sector workers to stay here and keep the economy going: those workers can and will leave, and when they do so it leaves the DB obligation here in Alaska for the remaining workers to pay. We have our Congresswoman saying Alaskans all agree that fossil fuels are on the way out, that the pipeline will soon be obsolete. So this is no time to create a huge liability to pay public employees and their families long into the next century. Get this: The last remaining beneficiary from the DB program that ended in 2006 will receive the last payment due her in 2071!

  8. Doesn’t surprise me that Dunbar would have a curriculum on sex education starting in Kindergarten. Let’s see the curriculum Forrest. Kindergarten children need a curriculum in sex education thrown at them like they need a hole in their head. How about a curriculum in sex ed mandated for parents to teach their own children sex ed at an appropriate level. in my opinion, these deviates who contribute early on by putting sex books in the library and getting children’s attention on sex instead of the basics reading writing and arithmetic contribute to Alaska being one of the highest states in the nation in sex trafficking. 40% of kids at the Covenant house have been involved in trafficking. Focus Forrest on preparing children for life and it surely isn’t a Sex ED curriculum in Kindergarten in my opinion.

  9. Mandatory sex education in kindergarten?!! Getting rid of Dunbar on the Anchorage assembly only to put him in the legislature is like putting him in a more far reaching position to affect our children! Parents, grandparents beware. They are out for our children!! And, before they ask for more money per BSA, improve the reading, writing and math scores!

  10. How about no more additional money for government schools? How about we empower parents to make other choices for educating their children? Do not outsource your responsibility to the state for convenience. It is a trade you lose every time.

  11. A quick web search reveals that there are 7,459 public school teachers in Alaska. Even doing the math with an assumption of $7,500 average for all our teachers and it looks like we are on the hook for a total of just under $168 million dollars in bonuses over the three year period. Are our teachers really doing that good of a job? In Sitka they aren’t.

  12. Whatever plans for the new retirement system are, be sure an not include the bonuses in the salaries that determine pension payments. The funding issue is mute if the Willow Field is rejected by the Biden Administration. The 4 rural State Legislators lobbying in DC understand the problem and hopefully with our delegation will be successful. If parents were doing their job as foremost educators of their children, this problem would be limited. Parents are limited by economic constraints of working many jobs outside of the home. Too much unsupervised time for young children. Parents are overwhelmed and schools are dealing with too many problem students. All I know is less oil flowing down the pipeline is a recipe for disaster.

    • Need to explain how $250 Million less in taxes from Conoco Phillips to the Alaska treasury after you deduct expenses from the lower Federal Willow royalty payments helps Alaskans?

      • Frank you make a legitimate point. I would counter that the economic activity of jobs needed to complete the project and the extra oil flowing down the pipeline (maybe 300,000) is a plus for Alaska. Could be one of the last big projects in our State. Yes there are drawbacks but more positives than negatives. Plus one field by another oil company nearby with more potential oil down the pipeline. Partial wins are better than nothing. Difficult to get financing for large energy projects. Willow Field has the most potential of getting done.

        • Most of the jobs will be with out of State workers, my daughter now works for HilCorp and previously worked for BP and Udelhoven for the last 25 years, so I know. An income tax would at least recoup some money from the carpetbaggers, or maybe just get rid of the subsidies and go to a flat production tax. Alaska is nothing more than a resource extraction State with the current tax structure. I believe Biden will cancel Willow anyway.

  13. Dangle carrots, I mean money ? for Alaskans. Now it’s teachers. First, it was the PFD. After he failed to provide basic services. Hey. Mike. Why aren’t you flying to see ol Pumpkin, I mean Putin?
    Keep it up and you will get dropped in Ukraine.

  14. So State Senator Loki Tobin will not let a bill even be heard in her education committee. She has said that she will kill it. She calls any parent’s rights discrimination. To quote the ADN article:“I don’t need to hear people justify discrimination,” Tobin said, calling the governor’s proposal “the most divisive piece of legislation you’ll possibly hear in the Alaska State Legislature this year.” This is from the ADN report. This is how badly the democrats have gone insane. And yet they wish to have the whole state subject to their whims by making Anchorage sex education laws mandatory for the whole state in State Senate Bill 43, Filling trusting children’s heads with garbage is not enough for them. They must launch an attack on every native culture in Alaska as well as religious cultures. No family is to be allowed to raise their own children in accordance to their own standards. The democrats call that discriminatory. Support the governor as he battles against this. You can bet the democrats will be supporting their people.

  15. Governor. If you really want to control state costs and cut the education budget, just go to the voucher system let private enterprise figure it out the state has shown they can’t run the school district as our schools are a total failure step up and do something right for a change

  16. Why not give out school vouchers in the exact same amount of that the schools would be receiving from the State of AK’s base student allocation rate (currently around $5,960)? The school voucher would be restricted to use by the parent at any private or public school of the Parent’s choice for their kids. I am not sure that school vouchers are even on the current Juneau legislators’ minds in 2023……..

    FYI, I support the ONE-TIME teacher bonuses ONLY IF the bonuses are not eligible for boosting any recipients’ HIGH THREE or HIGH FIVE years of earning years used to calculate retirement pensions and not at the detriment of funding the permanent fund dividend amount. The recipient of the bonus must remain employed at the current Bonus Tier School District for at least five consecutive years OR pay the bonus back. Just a few random thoughts.

  17. Mini Ron Desantis wants Alaska schools to provide bathrooms based on their biological gender. There have been 7 distinct biological genders identified, it will be awfully expensive to provide restrooms and locker rooms for all of those genders at each school. Maybe we should leave the local school districts to comply with the 2014 decisions that have been working well in the ASD.

    • Frank R, Please provide the chromosomal makeup for those distinct genders other than XX and XY. I guess the schools could put in porta-potties for you 7 genders. Better yet, allow all the other than XX and XY genders to use the staff’s bathrooms, including the superintendent’s.

      • David, you know ASD has had a policy that works since 2014 and Dunleavy put up a Bill that has zero chance of going anywhere to satisfy his base. Republicans at one time were for less government and more local control. The last elections confirmed local support for the ASD Board and MOA Assembly. More nonsense coming out of Juneau

    • “There have been 7 distinct biological genders identified”
      .
      Maybe on the planet Zyxoxzyn that circles in the Tau Ceti star system (or in your febrile mind), but here on earth there are and have always been only two genders. And that is THE SCIENCE!

    • List the 7 genders and where/how they have been codified into “science”.

      Please also list the names of the “scientists” who discovered 5 new genders that were unknown or unguessed until 4 years ago. It would be intriguing to learn about them.

      Especially if they thought the Covid shot would cure Covid and if they talk to their dead relatives via a wooden board.

      • Why do we waist our time responding to “people “ like this Frank who’s so obviously a troll for the Communist government of China ? He has stated in previous comments that he lived in Juneau, then later knows everything going on in Anchorage. And further states that the communist government of China doesn’t kill or imprison people based on their beliefs. We should all know that a response from Frank means that we are hitting a home run. I know why. Because we are Americans. And AI will never take the place of intellect.

  18. Retention bonuses are fantastic and should absolutely used in the public school system, but only for those teachers who have demonstrated increased student growth in achievement. Period. I know the benchmark tests are different by grade-level, but I have faith DEED could articulate a standard K-12.

  19. Giving money directly to the teachers is a much better way rather than hoping that it will filter down to them in spending bills directed to the administration. What we are paying per child for education, we should have the highest paid teachers in the country, but we don’t. Higher pay will attract better teachers in it for the long run. And the bill giving parental rights has long been needed. In the real world, when administration grows at a higher rate than the business itself, it soon goes bankrupt. ASD should have failed years ago. Well, technically they did. The basics are, we need teachers and a school. The rest is overgrown fluff. Nobody even knows how many people are employed by ASD, but when we don’t pay for their spending habits, they cut teachers and special programs instead of their fat administration employees. The teachers can’t even get aids, so suffer a high burnout rate, and have become scapegoats for a failed system. I say pay them.

  20. Governor Dunleavy, We ask that when you give the bonuses to the teachers and NOT TO the districts who will never give it to the teachers. Teachers will never get their money. It’ll go to the Administration and the NEA First.

    • Exactly my point. Teachers should not be in position to have to beg from the administration for their needs. Like a pilot begging for a mechanic to fix the plane so it will be safe to fly. This money should come directly from the state. We have great teachers, let’s empower them. Triple the benefits.

  21. What can possibly go wrong by giving ridiculously extravagant bonuses to teachers who are just warm bodies that show up to the jobsite on time? Where is the accountability? And who was the moron who came up with the absolutely racist Tier system? I see another raid on the PFD coming!

  22. Parents should have control over the increasingly sex-oriented nature of education. Children should not be taught this until they are at least old enough to understand it – 4th grade sounds about right for somethings. But Kindergarten? Seriously…is this bill called “Grooming 101 for Pedophiles,” Dunbar?

    As far as more money, sorry, but …no. We already pay way too much for bottom-of-the-barrel results. Perform well, get compensated accordingly. Perform badly, and sadly, you still keep your job thanks to unions – who let’s face it…get most of the money anyway. ASD is a particularly egregious offender. Village teachers deserve some sort of incentive to work out there IMHO. First teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Leave your 47 genders for college and a useless gender studies degree.

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