By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO
I would like to offer a thought or two regarding Jodi Taylor’s May 16, 2022, Must Read Alaska column.
First and foremost. Thank you, Jodi.
My hope is the direction we take as a state, as a community, and as individuals, is to understand that it is the parents who must be the ultimate determiner of their childrens’ education. When parents are given this control and held accountable and responsible, that can create an environment where government education will have to compete with the private sector.
We must do this now and not tomorrow. Thomas Sowell points out, “The big problem in the long process of dumbing down the schools is that you can reach a point of no return. How are parents who never received a decent education themselves to recognize that their children are not getting a decent education?”
First and most important, Alaska education is about our children’s future. It is not about anything else. It is not a platform for social justice, it is not an echo chamber for situational morality, and it is not a foundation for political demonstration and insurrection.
Education must create literate citizens.
Perhaps the unintended consequences of the Correspondence School Allotment Program are that parents may realize they’ve been duped by their own government.
Using Jodi’s example, parents receive up to a $4,000 reimbursement per student from the Anchorage School District and personally spend an additional $2,000 for one year tuition at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton private school. They attend full time and are also enrolled in the Anchorage School District’s Family Partnership Charter School.
I read the internet reviews of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton private school by parents. They were impressive.
Parents living in Anchorage who own their home pay 8.47 mills in property tax for education in Anchorage for 2022. According to Alaska’s News Source, the beginning of 2022 set the average single-family home in the municipality as property tax assessed at $400,949. That’s an additional cost to the parents of $3,396.04 for education for 2022 without any benefit since the student allotment is based on the Base Student Allocation, which is state money and not MOA property tax money.
Sure, the argument can be flimsily made that this pays for the Anchorage School District’s overhead in administering the Anchorage School District’s Family Partnership Charter School, but couldn’t this be bypassed with a direct allocation to the parents from the state? After all, depending on how you read the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development’s budget, some 18% to 25% of its 2021 $1.66 Billion budget went to administration. Why do we have another layer of administration designed to financially damage its constituents?
Jodi states, “Alaska spent $20,553 per student in average daily attendance in 2019-2020, yet correspondence homeschool students currently receive only the Base Student Allocation, or $5,930 each as a base, depending on district (the Base Student Allocation is only part of the cost per student).” She is pointing out a systematic theft by government with no reward.
Are parents who are guilty of the only crime of seeking an exemplary education for their children being punished by this additional financial burden?
In a school district that flaunts the superior features and benefits of equity, do any of you see this as a demonstrable inequity?
Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chaired Eaglexit.