Michael Tavoliero: Education must create citizens



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.


  1. The old saying about divorce being expensive because “it’s worth it” applies to the subject above. Sure you will suffer financially if you remove your kids from the State operated dumbing down complex, but are not your children worth the sacrifice?

  2. Tavo, what are you trying to say? This makes no sense. You want eagle river to leave the Anchorage Muni and then you want to cut taxes and defund public schools. Most parents can’t home school their children or even tutor or help their children achieve literacy. There is more to education than loading a gun and watching Fox News spew racism. Your vision for Eagle River is a joke

    • Keep voting commie and you’ll get just what you deserve. When EaglExit happens you and your ilk will no longer have a say over our community, it can’t happen fast enough.

    • Hey Troll, the public school system is nothing more than an indoctrination and grooming system for the teachers union, perverts and a corrupt government that doesn’t listen to the parents. There are numerous home schooling programs that help folks setup a home school program without the social engineering crap like CRT and ESL in the program. You are part of the problem in our schools and parents are the solution!

      • Micheal, my experience with homeschoolers is not how you describe it. And the only time I hear of CRT is from the Maga crowd. Everyone wants to learn English so I don’t know what your commenting about. And further more I don’t know anyone who’s against the Eagle Exit. Please go and live in your Utopia and when your broke and uneducated don’t cry to the rest of the state.

  3. How can education create citizens when currently the average student is in last place nationwide?

    I believe in civics education, capitalism 101, too. But all that is pointless until Johnny can read and write.

  4. Thank you to Mrs. Taylor, AND to Mr. Tavolerio for sharing their knowledge and opinions on these matters related to education here in our state. It is critical that we overcome the entrenched bureaucracy in this particular location in our society, and the sooner the better. These guest pieces provide an extremely valuable strategic assessment upon which we can base the way forward.

    Let us resolve to cheerfully overcome this adversity.

  5. Freemen, American inhabitants are free. Born free. Citizens, have taken oaths to defend the US Constitution which secures the liberty and property of a nation’s freemen. Freemen are not bound by anything except good morals. To be free one must have morality. Citizens are bound by written oaths and are accountable in a complete sense for their term of office to present their district’s will; and to secure the freemen’s rights and property rights within the district. Is this what we have seen? Anywhere in Alaska?

  6. I received a great parochial elementary education without any government support. MT constantly requests things that are against the Alaska Constitution and grifts for money to separate Eagle River from the MOA.

    • And separate we will, the sooner we can get out of the grips of this liberal hellhole known as the Anchorage Muni the better.

  7. Michael Tavoliero, thanks for pointing out the inequity in our so-called parental choice charter school funding. Folks, you must realize that the Base Student Allocation (BSA) is just that–the base. It then goes through an Education Funding Formula that multiplies that number. In the Anchorage School District, that simple $5,930 turns into a whopping $7,418 per student. That means the school district keeps $3,418 ($7418 minus $4,000) of the student funding that Ms. Taylor’s child counts for the district.

    The North Slope Borough is funded at $9,393 per student by the State of Alaska. If it “gives” the parent $2,000, which most parents receive for homeschooling a child in the state’s school system, the NSB School District keeps the remainder.

    The program is a “cash cow” for school districts even though it does give some parents a faux “choice”.

    Finally, the school districts also get funding for transporting these ghost students even though it does not transport them.

  8. Anchorage citizens should demand “extensive” performance metrics of the ASD so as to effectively decide if their precious tax dollars are effectively and efficiently producing maximum benefits. Additionally, I would think it would help ASD Leadership to more accurately make meaningful adjustments to to the program to maximize performance – utility. Otherwise, the average citizen is only left with two metrics … 1) cost per student vs. 2) student test scores. And, if those are the only two metrics to measured and evaluated, then it is quite apparent that ASD is woefully under performing for the costs of their overall program; the resulting effect that citizens realizing is that they’re getting “Royally Ripped-Off” with the only options either Home School and/or Private School.

  9. The education system has become a massive bureaucracy. I am constantly reminded of Pournelle’s Law.
    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:
    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
    Short version: The primary purpose of any bureaucracy is growing the bureaucracy.
    The education system has a vested interest in keeping their massive industry alive and well, and that interest overtakes any education requirements of the students. Ask any school official if they support any kind of school choice? They will be opposed because if parents and children were allowed to select the school for their kids, instead of being require to go to the closest one, quality of the services provided might come into play, and the administrators would not be able to protect non-performing teachers/administrators.
    Speaking administrators, exactly how many principals, vice principals, guidance counselors, and social workers do we really need for each school? I do not think my education suffered, and I am of the belief I turned out to be a well balanced adult, but my HS had one principal, one vice principal, three guidance counselors (who did double duty as the social workers), and over 1,000 students. Yet, for some reason, our schools cannot get by with twice the administrative personnel and less than half the students?
    Why? Pournelle’s law.
    How do we get around it? Stop feeding the machine. School choice, vouchers, and charter schools. Anyone campaigning against them is pushing for a larger, less effective bureaucracy.

  10. Thank you, Mr. Taveliero for your well-written articles. Suzanne has an incredible army of deep-thinking and well-reasoned contributors.

  11. Well done, thought provoking, Michael Tavoliero.
    To “Education must create literate citizens”, may we add:
    “Why have a public-school system if not to produce, at reasonable cost, classically educated, patriotic, employable, god-fearing Americans of reasonably good character, literate in English and a second language, able to be productive without electronic devices?”
    Do Anchorage’s education-industry officials not have a fiduciary duty to provide this service to taxpayers and their children?
    If they have a fiduciary duty, it’s clearly not enforced. Maybe it’s not even enforceable because nobody in his right mind would upset such a pleasantly profitable racket with threats of accountability.
    No? Mere coincidence is it… the value of Anchorage’s homes has to be grossly inflated to justify confiscating enough wealth to support the racket
    …while the school board pads school-district contracts so only their union buddies get those contracts
    …while the school district achieves –and keeps– national recognition for being among the most expensive, worst performing districts in America.
    If this isn’t passing Sowell’s “point of no return”, what is?
    So… Michael T., how exactly does Eaglexit happen without the overpriced academic and cultural rot that is Anchorage School District?

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