By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO
This column is the first of four-part series exploring current data presented on the Department of Education and Early Development website. The data is the State’s and a result of individual districts and schools reporting on various components of attendance, proficiency, and expenses.
Last month, I had a conversation with a very educated and articulate person who has children in our local Eagle River schools.
I had mentioned that I chair the Alaska Republican Party Districts 13 (Chugiak) and 14 (Eagle River), as well as EAGLEXIT, an organization proposing the detachment from the Municipality of Anchorage and incorporation as a separate municipality.
As the Republican chair, I was calling people about our District Convention on Feb. 22 and I struck up a friendly conversation. In my discussion, I was impressed at the certainty and conviction this person shared with me regarding Alaska’s political atmosphere as well as its government services, especially public education.
I considered for some time how this person praised our public schools. I had just published a column on the problems in Alaska’s education system.
As a result of that conversation, I reviewed Alaska’s education system a bit more to see if my first article missed important information.
This link is a website that provides valuable public information for Alaskans to review the current status of our government schools and school districts in both the Unorganized Borough and the Organized Borough.
It is organized by district and then categorized by individual school. The link to the individual school has the name of the school, the attendance rate, grades served, number of students, average math and English language arts proficiencies in percentage, and number of teachers.
What is also revealed on this website is each school’s “Overall School Index Value”, “Safety & Well Being”, “Teacher Quality”, and “Student Demographics.” We’ll talk about these in another column soon to come.
Here’s what anyone can discover on this website:
- Alaska has a total of 18 School Districts in the Organized Borough.
- The state has 36 school districts in the Unorganized Borough.
- That is a total of 54 school districts.
- The Organized Borough has 323 schools.
- The Unorganized Borough has 180 schools.
- The total number of Alaska schools is 503.
- The Organized Borough has approximately 104,575 students and approximately 5,996 teachers.
- The Unorganized Borough has approximately 22,794 students and approximately 1,450 teachers.
- Teacher-student-ratio in the Organized Borough is 17.44:1
- Teacher-student ratio in the Unorganized Borough 15.72:1.
- The national average teacher-studio ratio is 16:1.
- Attendance average for the Organized Borough is 92.69%.
- Attendance average in the Unorganized Borough is 91.24%.
The next set of data is startling, sad, and frightening:
- Average math proficiency in the Organized Borough is 39.45%.
- Average math proficiency in the Unorganized Borough it is 25.17%.
- Average English language arts proficiency in the Organized Borough is 44.30%.
- Average English language arts proficiency in the Unorganized Borough it is 28.85%.
In other words, more than 60 out of every 100 children in the Organized Borough and almost 75 out of every 100 children in the Unorganized Borough are not meeting state average math proficiency.
More than 55 out of every 100 children in the Organized Borough and more than 71 out of every 100 children in the Unorganized Borough are not meeting state average ELA proficiency.
This is from the state’s own website, a stark representation of the current state of education for the entire state.
Would anyone reviewing these statistics from the State’s own website reach the reasonable conclusion that Alaska is knowingly raising a functionally illiterate future citizenry?
Michael Tavoliero is a realtor at Core Real Estate Group in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.