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Thursday, August 13, 2020
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Education solution: Give parents freedom of choice



Our public education system no longer promotes the goal of teaching our children how to think independently, and how to live free, fulfilling, and meaningful lives.

Instead, we now see the products of carefully crafted and controlled manipulation of education to graduate young Socialists who are entitled, unskilled, and politically far-left leaning.

This whole process is controlled by the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and their willing confederates in the public employees’ unions.

Republicans and conservatives alike share the blame. We have been absent from the education dialogue. We have, at best, issued lukewarm and flaccid rebuttals in protest, and of course, have been ignored. The public employees’ unions have driven the narrative, tilting the political arena more to the left than ever before. They have almost unlimited financial resources, and the political process has quietly been manipulated to help, through independent expenditure groups, mail-in ballots, and (possibly soon) rank choice voting.

There is no excuse for Republican/Conservatives to remain passive. After all, this really is about not only our more and more endangered constitutional rights, but also the future of our children and their children.

The majority of cities in the United States see their school boards and administrations controlled by far-left Democrats and their allies, and have for over half a century. The end result is that every major city is now completely controlled by the Democrat party, particularly unions.

States like California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Virginia (the state whose constitution was written by George Mason and James Madison among others) and more are now totally controlled by Democrats who control the major population centers and therefore the entire states.

Alaska has become no different. Anchorage has become a state within a state. As evidenced by its mayor and assembly as well as many of its State Legislative representatives (regardless of“D” or “R” designations), our once bountiful natural resources, with their development potential, are being converted and driven into a swamp of red tape, bureaucracy and entitlements. Our education system is promoting every leftist policy as good to our children, and every conservative policy as “evil,” “racist,” and “selfish.”

“Everything that is wrong with inner city schools that policy can fix, Democrats are responsible for. Democrats and their allies run the public school system for the benefit of adults at the expense of children. Put in the language of political war: Democrats have their boot heels on the necks of poor, black, and Hispanic children. But Republicans are too polite to mention it.” – David Horowitz. How to Beat the Democrats and Other Subversive Ideas

Whose fault is this? We need to look at ourselves and see the results of our lack of attention and action. These policies are allowed to take over because of poor Republican/conservative voter turnout and poorer Republican/conservative public involvement.

Our lack of involvement has allowed the growth and takeover by the public employees’ unions, creating an unfair legal standard for the Democrat hatchet machine to proliferate. With seemingly unlimited funds from union dues (we have yet to see the measurable effects of Janus v AFMCME in Alaska), these unions are virtually a political party with no legal political restraints, unlike the current political parties subject to the FEC and state public offices regulators.

Sadly, Democrat-controlled schools are teaching students very little. Students who are a product of this system are moving into their future not with productive and saleable life skills, but with a quiver full of “identity politic” arrows. Our education system should promote a meaningful and independent lifestyle, but instead, it leads to narcissism, sloth, and entitlement with few exceptions.

Alaska is producing a failing social order and it will cost our progeny dearly.

Where is the outrage on the part of Republicans/conservatives? Our urbanity and our “go along, get along” attitude are our demise and consequently our failure, not just to ourselves but to Alaska’s future.

What is more incredible to this edifice of failure is the fact that Republicans/conservatives actually do have an education plan in place. It is not based on the failed social principles we have witnessed year in and year out. No, the Republican/conservative plan is simple and immediately outcome oriented.

Alaska’s school reform is economic choice. By putting the education dollar directly into the hands of parents, schools would be forced to serve their communities and constituents. Giving parents control of their children’s education would force schools and unions to stop exploiting our tax dollars to serve their own interests (instead of the students’). Our tax dollars must be redirected to the parents and follow the children, rather than the special interests of the Democrat/media/public union syndicate.

The goal is to serve our children with a profoundly reformed education and provide them with the education that will give them the best chance for a successful, fulfilling and responsible life. The Left will not listen to these ideas because they will lose the power and the control they crave and must have to stay in power.

This idea was developed in 2013 through the efforts of Senator now Governor Michael Dunleavy.

During the 28th Alaska State Legislature, our state saw for the first time an opportunity to vote up or down on the question of state aid for education reaching the true beneficiaries of education, our children.

SJR 9 proposed amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to state aid for education which provided the wording as captioned below, if passed by the State Legislature, would have given the voters the opportunity to amend the state constitution.

It was falsely entitled a voucher program attempt and maligned extensively in the public and the halls of our state capital. This was a typical lefist “sky is falling” canard, calling it a voucher program, instead of what it really was — freedom: Freedom for parents and children to choose. Freedom to use their tax money in a way that would be meaningful to them, not the few, who created a hornet’s nest response to their potential loss of control over public policy and public money.

It was introduced on Feb. 13, 2013 by then-Sen. Dunleavy, and Senators Fred Dyson, Pete Kelly, John Coghill, Cathy Giessel, Lesil McGuire, Charlie Huggins, and Anna Fairclough.

SJR9 had 11 of the 14 votes required, but the education industry is the most powerful lobbying force in Alaska politics. Ironically, Senators Bert Stedman, Gary Stevens and Click Bishop, all Republicans, were the 3 senators who kept SJR9 from coming out of the Rules committee and being voted upon on the floor, in spite of this being part of the Alaska Republican Party platform.

Isn’t time to bring this back to the education discussion? Before you say yes, let me finish with a suggestion and a solution.

Suggestion: Redirect all education funding to follow the child. This can be done by our political will through amending the Alaska Constitution. Give the people of Alaska the opportunity to guide the direction of education policy directly and personally.

Solution: Reintroduce and pass the language of SJR9. Amend Article VII, Sec 1 as follows:

Article VII, sec. 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, to read: Section 1. Public Education.The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control.


Amend Article IX, Sec 6 as follows:

Article IX, sec. 6, Constitution of the State of Alaska, is amended to read: Section 6. Public Purpose. No tax shall be levied, or appropriation of public money made, or public property transferred, nor shall the public credit be used, except or a public purpose (add as follows); however, nothing in this section shall prevent payment from public funds for the direct educational benefit of students as provided by law.

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor at Core Real Estate Group in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.

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Latest comments

  • During the mid-1980s Alaska was awash with money from Prudhoe Bay oil revenues, but the Association for Alaska School Boards (AASB) still maintained an effort to assure reasonable costs for rural school districts. Former Department of Administration Commissioner Carole Burger went around to various rural districts and negotiated against the local unions for salary and benefits. Personnel costs are the highest expense of public education. I served as Database Technician to collect and publish data about district costs for school personnel statewide.

    Those days are long past now that administrators have joined with NEA-Alaska and AASB to simply demand more money annually despite declining academic outcomes.

    Gov Dunleavy has intimate understanding of this voracious money-eating system harboring the people who hate him the most. They know he knows their scam.

    So, we must ask: what vision for Alaska public education will you show for 2020, Governor? You could be Alaska’s first Education Governor, you know….

  • I see what your suggesting but not sure how “free from sectarian control” would accomplish it?

  • If you really want choice in your children’s education, then take 100% responsibility and pull them out of this Socialist dis-education system and home school them! The father of the public school system was Horance Mann, who was extremely close friends with Karl Marx, the father of Communism. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Horace Greeley, the publisher of the NY Post, is the Horace I believe you are referring to. If I am wrong I hope you’ll cite your source.

  • You’re crazy See more. Don’t blame the system. The conspiracy theorists want to point the fingers at the public education system and I’m telling you it’s not broken. As a native educator the system worked fine for me and my son. Parents who take an active role in their children’s education are the ones who reap the benefits. The teachers are doing the job and the solution is not Gov. Dunleavy’s checkbook, but the solution begins at home.

    • It was broke the day it was created. Read again the source and creator of the public school system. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

      • It has produced some pretty smart people including an assistant State attorney out of my son.

      • Again, the Horace you are referring to is Horace Greeley, NOT Horace Mann. Cite your source or this is just more fake news from a misinformed commenter who spreads rumor.

  • My dad was in public education for over 30 years, most in Alaska from teacher to Administrator. When my wife and I had our first child he pleaded with us to get him out of public education and home school. He had me read a book, “NEA: Trojan Horse in America” . We did home school from 3rd-6th grade then enrolled him in a private school where parents volunteered to attend classes and help. My son is now 32 and has a successful career where his employer recognized his ability for critical common sense thinking. He was one of 200 applicants for the job initially. I am so proud of him and my wife. Parents need to control their child’s education.

    Excellent article Mr. Tavoliero.
    PS..Hey Lisa Murkowski, where did your kids go to school, and why don’t you like school vouchers?? Unions filling your coffers?

    • That’s what I was trying to say, you guys took an active role in his education and look what you got? When parents don’t step up and help education be at public or private then there’s a missing link.

  • Only in one of the best states in the nation to homeschool do “conservatives” complain about the public schools not being good enough. Conjure up some fortitude and homeschool for goodness sakes! Everybody’s gotta be a victim these days

  • Where are you getting your information, Mr. Tavoliero? Show us actual, documented, systemic examples of the public schools doing what you’re accusing them of. Until you come to an argument with some referenced sources (a skill I learned in, wait for it… public schools!), your article is the same type of “sky is falling” canard you accuse the school system of using.

    Here’s a suggestion: visit a school. Sit in on some classes. Or take an even bigger step: substitute teach! See what it’s actually like in these “socialist” enclaves you rant about. My kids just finished learning about the revolutionary war, algebra, coding, and cell systems. Nothing too liberal about those things.

    And some questions for you about vouchers:
    1) How much is private school tuition?
    2)How much would the voucher be?

  • Only opinion more worthless than a leftist is that of a male realtor.

    • Let’s keep it civil here, please. His choice of profession is in no way relevant to his statements.

  • Yeah!! Smaller public schools, vouchers used by parents and students for better education for “their” child. Not all children will fit the particular family purpose. So, vouchers for education to make a difference. Let’s get on with doing what is right for our communities and families and their personal need to get the best they can for their child.

  • Time to give the vouchers a try. This state has not done very well and needs to change activity of teaching and public education.

  • Children are the responsibility of their parents, so home school them instead of asking for handouts. Will you ask your government to buy your children’s clothes and food too?? That is all Socialism. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • One thing is for sure, Seymour, no one here is asking for handouts. The Anchorage School District’s answer to declining test scores of Anchorage kids is to throw more money at the problem, year after year after year. The point of the article is to make the case for parents having more control of the money that is spent on their children’s education. Of course, giving this control to parents doesn’t set well with the liberals who are entrenched in the public education systems across the country. If school districts pay X number of dollars each year per child for public education, it should grant the parents of children, as an option, the same amount of money to educate their children anyway they choose in addition to letting parents freely choose which public school they want their children to attend. More choices for parents is not the “big government way” of dealing with this issue so get off the podium about more parental choices being Socialistic….it is the opposite. It is obvious to anyone with their eyes open that education has gotten away from teaching basics to more elective curriculum associated with social issues. In the case of Anchorage public school education, there is more missing here than just parental involvement.

  • I have been told over and over that the Socialistic publiceducation system has produced lots of smart people. My first question then will be, why were you never taught Article IV, Section 4 that says “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government, _ _”. Why are we now living under all 10 Planks of the “Communist Manifesto” and don’t even know it. Also why did you not learn that Article VI, Paragraph 3 that says “The Constitution of the United States is the Supreme Law of the Land.” The Constitution should have been the Number 1 lesson taught in the public school system since it is the “Supreme Law of the Land” don’t you think??? Horance Mann was the Father of the Public School System who was extremely good friends with Karl Marx, the Father of Communism.

    Everyone should have been taught “The Constitution of the United States” forward and backwards, and not get a graduation certificate until it was totally understood. If this had been required we would not be willing living under all 10 Planks of the “Communist Manifesto”. This is the ultimate of Socialism. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Exactly George Murphy. You’re paying money (one way or the other) to the public schools today even if you choose to home school and not participate. So in effect, you’re paying twice for the “privlege”. As a taxpayer with no kids in school at present, I still help pay for schools, but I’d want to see you & your kids get a share of the public school budget to help pay for their cost of education as well.

    If the public school system sees more & more kids being home schooled & find that troubling, the administration & school boards really need to look at why that’s happening & make the changes which may be causing the trend. Might be a tough pill for some school boards to swallow.

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