Michael Tavoliero: Time to defeat Marxism and brand ‘Competitive Education’ in Alaska



In February of 2013, then-Sen. Mike Dunleavy introduced SJR9, a resolution amending the Alaska State Constitution relating to state aid for education.

Specifically, the resolution would amend, through a vote of the Alaska people, Section 1 of Article VII and Section 6 of Article IX of the Alaska State Constitution.

These amendments would have deleted the prohibition allowing public funds to be used for the direct benefit of any religious or private educational institution. The sections of the Alaska State Constitution in question are called the “Mini-Blaine Amendments”.

The Mini-Blaine Amendments were a result of a Republican U.S. congressman’s efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent public funds from going to the Catholic Church for education purposes back in the late 19th Century.  

His prejudice against religious freedom was so great that when his efforts failed, he convinced Congress to require the installation of this language to prohibit public funds from being used for private and sectarian education purposes in new states’ constitutions as a requirement to enter the union.

As a result, and a requirement for union entry, in the late 1950’s the State of Alaska included these Mini-Blaine Amendments in its state constitution.

With the adoption of SJR9, Alaskans for the first time, since statehood, would have had the opportunity to vote on the question of providing public funds for private and sectarian educational institutions.  The Alaska State Legislature decided this would not happen and SJR9 died in the state legislature.

The arguments against and the defeat of this resolution were and still are corporatist. Those in labor and industry who control and benefit from the Alaska political machinery would not allow this resolution to pass just as most of the attempts to allow the Alaska people to vote on the question of individual liberty have been usurped by their heavy control over the Alaska state legislature.

The surprise was Republican Senators John Coghill and Click Bishop were responsible for the procedural death of this resolution.

Why does the Alaska Legislature continue to deny the Alaska people the opportunity to vote on fundamental issues?

Subsequently, the slow death of the Alaska public education system continued its anguish as the lifestyle opportunities of Alaska’s progeny result in the lowest scholastic performance in the nation at the highest cost per student in the nation. Look up performance in the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Performance Evaluation of Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS).

Contrary to the Marxists who control the Alaska political echo chamber, the result would not be “School Choice” or a “Voucher System.” The result would be for the first time in Alaska’s history, “Competitive Education”.

Competitive Education is the greatest and perhaps the final defeat to Marxist controlled public education.  It is also their greatest fear, because it stops them from having access and complete control of billions of education dollars.

Why? Because public funds will follow the child through the education process, thus enabling parents to determine the education opportunities for their children and not the special interests of the unions, the education industry and the health care industry.  

Novel idea.

What’s more critical is that public funds could go directly to the parents, who would be the only ones to attach “strings” to the subsequent distribution to whatever schools the parent chooses for the child.

Private and sectarian educational institutions would not have the onerous regulatory realities state government would attempt to impose on them.  The state gets out of the public education regulation business and trusts the parents to make the best decisions for their children by opening the door for all private educational institutions to compete head-to-head with all public educational systems for public education funds. 

Any bets on who would have better performance results? 

Novel idea!

Any bets on a more cost effective and efficient education expense benefit to the state and the Alaska people?

Novel idea!

On June 30, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled through Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue that the Mini-Blaine amendments in 38 states were unconstitutional.

Marxists will readily argue that it did not, but I’ll leave it up to the author of SJR9 to decide and consider implementing Espinoza.

Justice Roberts in his opinion for the Court concluded, “That ‘supreme law of the land’ condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them. They are ‘member[s] of the community too,’ and their exclusion from the scholarship program here is ‘odi­ous to our Constitution’ and ‘cannot stand.’”  

Justice Thomas in his concurring opinion stated, “Returning the Establishment Clause to its proper scope will not completely rectify the Court’s dispar­ate treatment of constitutional rights, but it will go a long way toward allowing free exercise of religion to flourish as the Framers intended.”

Justice Alito brilliantly nailed the Mini-Blaine amendments for what there were and still are. “Backers of the Blaine Amendment either held nativist views or capitalized on them.”  In Alaska, the only beneficiaries of the Alaska Mini-Blaine amendments are the unions, education industry and the health care industry, not Alaska’s children.

Justice Gorsuch in his concurring opinion establishes, “The [US] Constitution forbids laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. That guarantee protects not just the right to be a religious person, holding beliefs inwardly and secretly; it also protects the right to act on those beliefs outwardly and publicly.” 

And “If the government could intrude so much in matters of faith, too, winners and losers would soon emerge.”. Sound familiar Alaska?

And “Effectively, the [Montana’s Supreme] court told the state legis­lature and parents of Montana like Ms. Espinoza: You can have school choice, but if anyone dares to choose to send a child to an accredited religious school, the program will be shuttered. That condition on a public benefit discriminates against the free exercise of religion. Calling it discrimina­tion on the basis of religious status or religious activity makes no difference: It is unconstitutional all the same.”

It is time to implement Espinoza and save the children of our state from Marxism, mediocrity and a desolate future.

If this is not enough for the Alaska state government to understand, then wait for Carson v. Makin. Here, the court will be asked to decide whether Maine violated the Equal Protection or Religion Clauses of the U.S. Constitution in preventing students from using their grant-in-aid money to attend schools that provide sectarian education.

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.


  1. Todays’ timing is amazing. I just Commented on Arts’ last post saying that our school board choices are so important and that vouchers could be the salvation of our kids’ education. Let’s examine this proposal and see if we can get behind it. Contact your legislators and make your voice heard.

  2. The only surprise is you were surprised Bishop and Coghill were at the heart of trying to kill the effort.

    Again, it’s Bishop and Coghill. Expecting them to behave as “Republicans”, much less adults more your failing than theirs.

    If Alaska wants a decent Republican Party, Republicans must do two things.

    1-Get off their butts and get involved. Start by bothering to vote.
    2-Quit cheerleading the damn RINOs and spineless failures simply because they have a faux R behind their names.

    The get the government you deserve, Alaska.

    • Exactly right.

      As Plato once said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

      • “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

        John Kenneth Galbraith

        • I post a quote that is non partisan and you answer with partisanship. Wonder who’s is more truthful. Plato or a hyper partisan Harvard Professor.

          Instead of just posting a quote of an opinionated statement by someone you admire, why don’t you explain what is selfish about conserving freedoms for all. Or maybe how you would like to explain how Marxists use the appeal of progressivism to convince people of the need for ever evolving changes to the fundamentals established in the Constitution, because the definition of good and evil, freedom and tyranny, changes over time. Of course, that’s not selfish, robbing people of their freedoms.

  3. Well written and said! The money is our tax money and should therefore follow the child! As a parent recently said, “The government is not a co-parent of the child.” It is up to parents to make the choices for their children, not the government! If you want to send your child to a private school or homeschool them, the money should follow the student. If the corrupt government school system doesn’t stop indoctrinating our kids, everyone should pull their kid out of school. It is not for a teacher to decide what you or your children’s values to be. The NEA sent a letter out signed by thousands of teachers nationwide stating they would teach CRT against the wishes of parents. Combine that with the LGBTQWXYZ and social justice indoctrination process and you have a volatile mix that is screwing kids up on a monumental scale. They literally are trying to turn your kids against you! That is not teaching, it is brainwashing.

  4. Tavoliero is spot on again. Ok Governor Dunleavy how about doing your part and implement the solution. Think out of the box like Mayor Bronson and make something smart happen. Your action on this is overdue.

  5. How about a situation where one could go to any religious, private, or public school so long as the schools did not have any religious content in the classroom and followed all other requirements to which public schools adhere? Would that satisfy those who want school vouchers?

    • “followed all other requirements to which public schools adhere”
      Absolutely not acceptable. Public operated schools in Alaska are a failed model to be avoided, as they are unmitigated failures because of the requirements they adhere to.
      Parents must regain sovereignty of their children. Children are not property of the state and certainly not a commodity to be abused by public school administrators and indoctrinated teachers.

      • So you are saying that parents, who have no specific knowledge or expertise in the field of public education, are qualified to decide how their children should be educated?
        Children are not the sovereign property of their parents any more than they are the sovereign property of the state. They are individuals and deserve to be treated as such. Otherwise, they become the commodity of either the state or the family.
        Let the teachers, the professionals, teach.

        • “Let the teachers, the professionals, teach.” Lol! This is the funniest thing I’ve read on this site for a long time. When I stub my toe, should I rush to the ER to allow the “professionals”, the doctor, put a band aid on it for me, too? When my toilet is plugged, should I wait for the “professionals”, a plumber, to plunge the toilet for me, too?
          It’s intriguing someone who’s using the moniker “HOMO ERECTUS” be so pro-public schools, pro-“professionals”. Do you actually know anything about the Homo erectus outside of Wikipedia?

  6. Native youth is particularly negatively effected by absolutely incompetent “educators” and admistrative systems whose sole purpose is self serving, with endless excuses and inability to educate.
    The costs of rural “education” are astronomical and the results are disastrously failing the youth.
    Our Governor must make this a number one priority in taking action to end the diversion of the resources dedicated to each student away from parents and into the control of unions and administrators. For all youth.
    The legal groundwork has been accomplished, now follow up for our state, now.
    The Alaska University system is also compromised, which has become an advanced indoctrination in radical ignorance instead of actual disciplines.

    • You have a point here. The systems incorporated by tendentious government can be toxic. But learning to read and think critically is devoutly to be wished.
      The unions have nothing to do with this. They emerged because teachers were being jerked around by people who didn’t understand the importance of education. I’m impressed that they did as well as they did.
      The “indoctrination” thing is absurd; the creation of a paranoid mind.

      • “They emerged because teachers were being jerked around by people who didn’t understand the importance of education.” This isn’t entirely correct. Have you actually read anything going on in the federal government under Woodrow Wilson? The push to unionize government workers had little to do with the employees being “jerked around” and more about unionizing employees.
        I’m not against unions, but I do have an issue when government unions make it impossible to fire horrible teachers, cops, etc. It’s infuriating when there are public teachers who are on the sexual registry so they can’t actually be around kids but yet are still being paid their full salary every month. It’s infuriating when bad cops like Chauvin, who have long histories of disciplinary problems, keep their job.
        I’m all for revamping the union contracts for all government employees so bad people aren’t sheltered, paid, and/or kill people.

  7. Anything is better than the public school system. This is especially true in Juneau. I first will say there are dedicated teachers and administrators who really are working hard and trying to make a difference. The issue is some of the teachers, they have far too much autonomy in their curriculum. Our students are not being instructed to be competitive in the world market, they are not being taught life skills. They are being indoctrinated with wokeism. Recently I believe all instructors had to attend a woke seminar taught by some left winger from San Diego. I don’t even want to know what this cost.

      • You mean the ignorance of over half of 8th graders can barely read? The ignorance that have led to America being ranked 37th in the world for schools? Which ignorance exactly are you talking about? Some of the most ardent pro-school choice are the minorities, especially the ones who live in urban areas. When their are third-world countries that are producing children more intelligent than American public schools, this should cause alarm to everyone here.

  8. Agreed Michael. As a successful veteran Homeschool Dad, I will vouch for homeschool effectiveness without the distractions of woke. I can also say that not everyone is capable of homeschooling successfully, or even competitively with public education. BUT it is the PARENT’S responsibility, and CHOICE is critical. Want to improve public education in a hurry? – Make them compete with all the choices available, including religious education. The loss of funds will bring State schools up in quality quickly. One bone to pick Mike – Planned Parenthood is NOT “healthcare” which you are obviously referring to – why not just call that side note for what it really is? Yeah, I can guess you didn’t want to distract from your main subject, but PP is a large part of the woke problem.

    • Yes, PP is part of this but the largest nemesis is the health care industry.

      Call me when you have a chance.

      • Lol! You continue to be hilarious! As an agnostic, I have no issue with religion. Some of the best schools some of my best friends ever went to were Catholic schools. However, you keep comparing religion and school, and not all alternative schools include religion. Charter schools, co-ops, trade schools, montessori, etc. And not all homeschooled parents are religious, either.

  9. We don’t need SJR9 or a statutory analog; we need a Governor and an Attorney General, Hell, even a Commissioner of Education would do. We’ve had two ground-breaking Supreme Court decisions in the last few years; the Janus decision regarding compulsory union dues in 2018 and the more recent Espinoza decision to which Mike refers. Together these decisions fundamentally changed the political landscape of public employment and public education, yet nothing really has changed.

    Throughout the Country, Democrat governments haven’t had the desire and Republican governments haven’t had the sense or the courage to implement these decisions. Had I still been the State’s director of labor relations when Janus was handed down in August of ’18, I’d have simply written all the unions a letter telling them that their compulsory dues provisions had been ruled unconstitutional by the USSC and the State would no longer collect and transmit dues. I would have politely invited them to bargain the effects of that decision with us.

    Of course that couldn’t have happened because Vinnie the Goon Beltrami’s AFL-CIO stooge, Bill Walker, was governor, and I wouldn’t have been director more than ten seconds after Vinnie’s stooge took his hand off The Bible. My limited sources, talking to me is dangerous for State employees, tell me that while the State respects individual employee requests to stop paying dues, they continue to enforce the union security clauses for those who have remained union members.

    Former AG Clarkson must have been too busy playing graba** with the clerk to think much about this. Going to State court on this issue was just abysmally stupid and the Department of Law has just let the matter fester while waiting for a new Democrat governor. If the communists, excuse me, Democrats pass their “PRO Act” the question will become moot again until somebody brings it back to the USSC, but then, they might have packed the Court with communists by then.

    I don’t think anyone has done much to implement Espinoza. An effective AG, Governor, or even Commissioner of Education would have read Espinoza to mean that the government money went with the kid. Of course doing that would have seriously disrupted the NEA’s pipeline into the State treasury and the politicians’ pipeline to NEA dues used for political contributions. Fundamentally, the National Extortion Association owns every school board in Alaska and on most issues owns the State government; they ain’t giving up their dues honey pot easily.

    Maybe one day we’ll become a republican democracy again.

  10. This is the same dude that is asking MOA to finance his EagleExit scheme. Hardly someone I would take seriously

    • What’s the matter, Frank, are you so disturbed by the concept of self-determination that you have to resort to lies to try to fight it? The idea of anyone trying free themselves from the authoritarianism that you embrace must simply terrify you. Aside from that, you really are one disingenuous SOB, as you have proven consistently both here and in the online ADN comments sections. Your arrogance is exceeded only by your intolerance and ignorance.

      • What terrifies me is the authoritarianism that the anti-authoritarianismists want all of us to submit to. These guys aren’t patriots, they’re egotists. Their arrogance is exceeded only by their ignorance and intolerance.

        • “Their arrogance is exceeded only by their ignorance and intolerance.” Taken a look into a mirror recently?
          I don’t want one party to rule over everyone. You rightly pointed out in another post that people are individuals. If the people in ER want to break away from Anchorage, why not? That would mean the assembly wouldn’t have to deal with the two members from ER, and ER wouldn’t have to deal with members from Anchorage. Personally, I’m for allowing people do their own thing. If a group wants to create a commune, let them. If a people want to practice religion, let them. Everyone should quit name calling, and this includes you, “HOMO ERECTUS”.

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