Susan McKenzie withdraws from Education Dept. post


Gov. Mike Dunleavy has announced that Susan McKenzie has decided to not accept the position of commissioner for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.  

“I was so blessed to have been chosen to lead Alaska Department of Education and Early Development as Commissioner,” said McKenzie. “Thank you to all who encouraged me. Due to personal reasons, I’ve made the difficult decision to decline the offer of position as Commissioner. I will continue to serve in the capacity as Director of Innovation and Education Excellence for AK DEED.” 

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development will begin the recruitment process for a new commissioner and forward a candidate to Governor Dunleavy for his approval.


    • Let this guy do it. A move from 48th to 47th would be more than 500 people with masters in education degrees could accomplish in over a decade.

    • Jay, you would do a great job. I believe Governor Dunleavy needs to appoint concerned parent groups and give them the responsibility of choosing books for students that are academically appropriate. I just read an article where in the Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin, the Librarian approved a 5 book series for students titled “Assassination Classroom” about aliens killing teachers. This series contains explicit violence, mild profanity and sexual activities. What the Anchorage School board (- 1) doesn’t seem to understand is that parents are not asking them to ban books but to promote academic achievement and healthy psychological concepts. It makes me cringe that Forest Dunbar etc are promoting a bill to develop a science based sexual orientation curriculum for kindergarten through 4th grade.These poor children do not know their colors or how to read but they are indoctrinated with knowing the right pronouns. Keep up the good work Jay, you have the support and prayers of two of us who retired from ASD

  1. Probably a good career move! Public education in Alaska is a train wreck. If any State is worthy of an experimental foray into school vouchers, than Alaska is it. Unfortunately, Dunleavy is not only a product of failed public education, but a proponent as well.

        • It wasn’t when their former governor was elected… before this last elected Governor.. I had friends who live there and had real good reports from them. Their present governor is ??? I lived in MS under democratic control in 1983-86..Some were still fighting the Civil War in their state legislatures.

    • It would take a seasoned, thick skinned and dedicated person with a proven track record. But they can’t do it by themselves. Their leadership would have to glean support staff. I don’t know anyone who’s going to run into a burning building because they left their wallet inside. That’s the kind of person that it’s going to take to fix this mess.

  2. That’s too bad, but foreseeable. Just on here alone if she reads the comments, she can tell what a hostile environment it is. If anyone on here, and there are many if not most they claim to be professionals in the education administration field can do a better job than by all means step right up to the plate. Yes, if you can keep 10 plates spinning at the same time while keeping the back biters off your butt then by all means this job is for you. But go into it with both eyes open and it helps to have an eye in the back of your head also for those times when the sucker Punch comes flying in from somewhere in the back.. I have personal knowledge of six people who are jockeying for the first in line position at the gates of hell. Truly evil people with personal vendettas and no willingness to put the children first. But that’s a different story. I hope this lady success.

    • God, this is tiring and stupid. But it proved the adage the only thing worse than people who know nothing about a topic are those who know enough to be dangerous.

      Education at that level is political, not educational. The average person who gets where she is has spent years horse trading favors, kissing the left butts, playing cozy with the NEA, and has been very throughly vetted for appropriate political thinking.

      Over 80% of people who rise to upper administration are left of center and will sell the souls of everyone around them for the next step up. The other 20 are useful idiots who do as told.

      If she hails from Oregon’s system, she’s further left than most. If she’s been cutting her most current teeth here, she’s partially culpable for the robust failure of AK public education.

      Alaskans have every right to be pissed, and highly pissed at last. We’ve won the race to the bottom. Our kids get stupider with every evaluation. Our classes in the cities are social indoctrination centers, more concerned about non existent pronouns than teaching children.

      Plus our governor is a spineless joke.

      Every administration position in any profession is a snake pit. If she looked here and decided it’s too mean, she has no business in leadership in any field.

      • Some of what you say is absolutely true. You have a good head on your shoulders. Regardless, I can personally vouch for some School principles who showed improvement on their schools test scores each and every year they were there. In one location after bumping in to someone in the know a few years later, they referred to the former School principal as the master. That principal arrived at a school that had a 100% staff turnover, and after one year retained 80% of the staff. That right there has to be an important role. If you don’t have continuity in a school, it’s hard to see growth. Incoming teachers are constantly treading the same water. By staying in a village and dedicating yourself, you earn the trust of a village. No one’s wants to give you the time of day when you’re just going to be gone in 8 months. If you’re willing to invest in the village and the students, that investment can be rewarded many times over. So rather than blame an entire institution, it has to be blamed on a case-by-case basis. There are some great people out there doing the best that they can with what they have to work with. It takes dedicated leadership and it takes resolve.

  3. If you look at what Texas is doing, down there they have a law that if a school district is underperforming for a certain length of time then the state can come in and take over. They just completed doing this with their largest school district in the state and that district is close to being one of the largest in the country. Fired the superintendent fired the school board and set up their own governing board. That might be a start but it’s probably not the only solution. I have known some pretty lame boards in Alaska. I’ve also known some pretty lame superintendents. They might have been good at managing funds, but were poor leaders. Leadership I believe is the most important quality in a superintendent. Not just being able to lead the employees of the district but being able to lead the parents and the students and The villages. It takes everyone to be successful. During my time in the school, he could certainly tell which students came from good families, those that valued education and sat down on the kids if that’s what it took to ensure that they learned. Most are not very good politicians and it takes a politician to keep everyone happy. I want to do a superintendent who’s main focus was to rub elbows with politician from the state capital. He couldn’t make a decision on his own to save his life without first getting on the phone and making a half a dozen phone calls around the state asking for help. If you’re reading this you know who you are. I know of a person who is highly qualified to be a great superintendent who has 25 years experience and proven success but they wouldn’t touch the position. Perhaps they are as smart as this lady seems to be.

  4. Hey Big Mike!
    Maybe you are approaching this wrong. Maybe the wrong answer is moving someone, already in the field of public education, into a top spot. Go outside of politics/education and find a retired CEO from any private corporation and give him the mandate to improve test scores in all school districts and a two year drop dead date for it to happen. Along with that mandate give him the power to operate independently inside the dept. of education (full hiring/firing powers).


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