Monday, June 5, 2023
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Senate passes increase to education formula

The Alaska State Senate last week approved Senate Bill 52, increasing education funding for Alaska’s public schools and correspondence programs by $175 million.

Proponents of the bill argue that the $680 per student addition to the Base Student Allocation calculation is a straightforward and equitable method to boost education funding for students in all public schools and correspondence programs across the state. It’s a reduction from the first version of the bill, which had a $1,000 allocation addition for each student.

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While the Alaska Constitution mandates the provision of a public education system, it does not dictate what adequate funding is. Nor has it been proven that pouring more money into the system will automatically lead to improved outcomes. Alaska’s academic outcomes for students in K-12 are at the 49th in the nation, even though spending is new the top. In the 1970s, the state education outcomes were near the top.

In addition to increasing the BSA, Senate Bill 52 includes additional provisions for pupil transportation and residential schools.

Sen. Shelley Hughes tried to amend the bill to give it the strength to direct the money to teaches and classrooms, rather than administration, but was rebuffed time and again by the Democrat-run majority.

“I proposed amendment after amendment today to direct school funds to improving student outcomes by directing the dollars specifically to teachers and classroom instruction, but despite the few brave souls (including both minority and majority members) who stood with me, the amendments failed. Even though proficiency rates in all grades and all subjects hover around only 30% statewide, too many senators turned a blind eye to a golden opportunity. Teachers and families, I want you to know that I fought for you. Although I am heartsick there weren’t the votes to take the bull by the horns for the sake of our most precious resource, our children, the song running through my head since I walked off the floor and out of the chamber has been ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down,'” she said.

Senate Bill 52 passed the Alaska State Senate by a vote of 16-3, with Senators Hughes, Robert Myers, and David Wilson voting against it. It will be considered by the Alaska House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the Finance Committee.

Photo: Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson argues for Senate Bill 52.

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. Teacher’s unions got em by the balls. They have nowhere to go except curl up and roll over. Senate Finance is run by a sissy and an embicile with no brains. Only Hughs, Wilson, Myers and Showers have personal integrity and grit. How do we get such chicken sh*ts in office?/

  2. Watch the basic skills for math reading and writing will not go up. It has continuously went down as the taxpayer cost goes up. Why would any normal person give more to get less? We need a voucher system or a completely new school board , vision and direction because the current one has given us this current mess.

  3. As Albert Einstein quoted “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The leftest elected in the senate are either insane or intentionally absolutely do not care about education, but only about power and control. More money to support bloated administration, but who cares about teachers and kids actually learning? Their actions speak pretty loudly. Thank you Senators Hughes, Wilson, and Myers for trying.

  4. Public school enrollment in Alaska is dropping all over the state but somehow the nitwits in Juneau find 175 million bucks to send down the public education rathole!

  5. The schools need to go back to basics, they don’t need more money. The kids are graduating with little knowledge or skills that are necessary to succeed in life. And they don’t READ with any level of comprehension that is measurable, at least the one’s I have come in contact with.

  6. Public schools being mismanaged are not competent enough to use this funding wisely. Our children and grandchildren will never have the education they deserve and many will end up like the mentally challenged legislators who are pushing this big spending ploy to boost administrators pay without making a single improvement in the classroom. Alaska Military Youth Academy being run by the National Guard is the best program available. They have the best results for learning and teaching all the basic skills for personal success in the entire nation. Their program is the most efficiently run operation with REAL results!

  7. They should have added the funds follow the student, even to private schools where they continue to perform better than the public sector.

  8. In Florida we just increased our student allocation by a little over $500 per student. Alaska has much more expense than Florida does just in student travel alone. Everything cost more in Alaska that’s for sure and for certain.

  9. No over site. Unbelievable. More squandering good money after bad.
    Guaranteed the money will be spent on salary hikes for administration and teachers. And don’t forget to add in Dunleavy’s $10,000 yearly Bonus to his teacher buddies.
    People your property taxes just took a leap and your dividend check just evaporated. And count on it next comes State income tax.
    But hey feel good…your kids will graduate with a degree of “wokeness.”

  10. Teachers unions have been fleecing the taxpayer for decades. Decades. And the “teachers” continually graduate less and less students while demanding more money. All public sector unions must be abolished, taxpayer money and unions have no business being mentioned in the same breath. A RICO case could be made for all of these unions.

  11. Union lobbyists should be barred from contacting elected officials, appointees or school board members. We all know good teachers who don’t drink the NEA/ANEA kool-aid.

  12. If the House Majority wants to decrease School Administration time stop the invasion of privacy legislation like SB 96 and HB 106. These bills offer no $$$’s for the time consuming administration mandates in the legislation and viokate the Alaska Constitution Privacy clause.

    • Frank, In Alaska, the age of majority is 18. This means that an 18 year old is considered an adult for most legal purposes. Before this, the parents are responsible for the child. CHILD. The education system has a responsibility to teach children the basics required to succeed in life. The same basics you and I studied and learned those many years ago. If you believe a CHILD should be empowered by his/her teachers and counselors without informing the parents, well, I’m sorry. I would submit you are as deluded as those who would snip off their schmeckle during a time in their life when their brains are not fully developed and matured. I feel badly for all the children counseled to MAKE this horrible decision, rather than be advised that it is NOT the norm and is likely a phase in life they are going through. It is an irrevocable act.

  13. The Democratic Party is the same pig as it was in 1861. It feeds it’s plantation owners and overseers while maintaining a perpetual slave class of poor stupid people.


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