Sweeping education ballot initiative OK'd for signatures - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 18, 2019
HomeThe 907Sweeping education ballot initiative OK’d for signatures

Sweeping education ballot initiative OK’d for signatures

A voter initiative that calls for what supporters say is an Alaska Students’ Educational Bill of Rights  was approved by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer today, upon advice of the Department of Law.

The group behind the measure can proceed with gathering signatures in petition format, and that would lead to a question being put to voters.

The initiative outlines lofty, undefined, and unquestionably expensive goals that include certain vague outcomes, such as pre-K programs, and a “quality” education for all children in a state where education spending is the highest in the nation per student, but which has some of the poorest outcomes.

The initiative goes so far as to mention that learning begins at infancy, suggesting that in future years, litigation could occur if programs for infants are not implemented statewide. The initiative also mentions better pay for teachers and seems to grant authority that is now at the district level to the state:

The initiative says the State should ensure:

“students of all ages have access to a continuous system of high-quality public education;

“incentives are in place to make voluntary pre-elementary programs as available, affordable, and high-quality as possible;

“investments are made in high-quality, voluntary pre-elementary programs that reflect the best available data on outcomes for students throughout their academic careers;

“public schools are safe, accessible, and modern in order to facilitate an environment conducive to learning;

“public schools receive the tools, including salaries and benefits, to attract and retain highly-qualified professionals in a manner that is competitive with other jurisdictions;

“public schools provide a classroom environment, including class-size, caseloads, and educator workload, that is conducive to frequent one-on-one interactions with educators;

“public schools offer a comprehensive education that includes career and technical education; engineering; world languages; language arts; mathematics; physical education; science; social studies; technology; visual and performing arts; consistent with the provisions of AS 14.35.010-030; and other electives offering enrichment;

“voluntary pre-elementary programs and public schools offer access to extracurricular activities that enhance skillsets beyond the classroom;

“voluntary pre-elementary programs and public schools prepare students to be good citizens and productive members of society;

“public schools provide culturally sensitive curricula, including programs, experiences, and teaching methods that speak to and preserve Alaska Native identity and history, and reflect the needs and cultures of diverse student populations;

“where practicable, voluntary pre-elementary programs and kindergarten through twelfth-grade public education are available at or near each student’s place of residence; and

“voluntary pre-elementary programs and public schools provide for the social and emotional needs of students in order for them to succeed in their program expectations and academic studies.

UNIVERSITY INVESTMENTS

In addition to birth through 12th grade overhaul of education, the initiative calls for an undefined and non measurable investment in university programs, to ensure:

“quality public university education is affordable and accessible to Alaskans of all economic means and provides a clear value when compared to universities in other jurisdictions;

“provide for the maintenance of university facilities; ensure that academic programs and educational technology, including connectivity among university campuses, support lifelong learning opportunities for Alaskans in urban and rural Alaska; encourage research, discovery, and creative activities and, where appropriate, the commercialization of those activities in support of economic development and diversification; ensure coordination with Alaska’s schools in the preparation of educators and education leaders, and through provision of dual enrollment opportunities for academically qualified students; collaborate with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to ensure that Alaska’s students are prepared for a productive career that meets the needs of Alaska’s employers; provide programs and services that build on and contribute to the rich cultural diversity of Alaska’s people.”

The group of educators promoting the measure will need to collect 28,501 signatures and has a year to do so.

The lieutenant governor’s letter approving the initiative for the next stage is here:

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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.

Latest comments

  • This is a devastating sweep. Educators are supposed to be smart. Nail it down kids. AK Ret. Teacher.

    • What grade would you these educator authors? I woul give them an F for not limiting the subject.

  • If for any reason this actually makes it on the ballot, Voters (with a lick-of-sense) should vote … “NO” as this is obviously another ‘boondoggle’ of waste, inefficiency, and ineffective bureaucracy.

  • This vague Christmas tree will financially destroy families as a tax will be required in order to pay for these educational ornaments.

  • This is Extreme Socialism that only belongs in a Communist/Fascist/Nazi Nation. This is one form of Treason because this will Aid and Abet the Extreme Enemies of our Constitutional Republic. That is the definition of Treason. The people that truly believe in such a program need to be Deported to any Communist/Fascist/Nazi Nation of their choice ASAP. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Seymour: The inspiration for your Demi rant is what? Little voices only you can ascertain?

      Get a grip.

      • Give a better solution. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

        • Did. Read below.

    • TLP: White Does the infancy reflect decisions made by Alaska concerning paternity law?

  • Looks like a narration of UA President Johnson’s extortion plan. After all, the student debt in Alaska for formal education is the third highest in the United States at $21,000,000. and the plan from UA is to increase it, with the state footing the bill for everything his staff can cook up.

  • One more step towards a voucher system that will free many families of the tax burden that prevents them from opting out of the public school system in favor of private schools.

    • No evidence this is true or part of the agenda behind this measure.

  • This proposed initiative appears to be policy overreach and unlikely to actually enhance genuine learning.
    In any event, given the Alaska Constitution prohibition against dedicating funds there is likely no funding for these new policies. Even if this passes it will be a set of aspirational policy guidelines that will remain unfounded and the source of disappointment to the proponents.

  • If I had a heart, this story would break it. Big tears poured from my eyes as I read it. Alaska is already among the highest states in spending per student while turning out one the lowest in test scores in the nation. So whether a “Teacher Of The Year” chooses to leave, too bad, so sad… Don’t let the door hit you and your family in the — on your way out of state. The only feedback from teachers union spokesmen is that we are spending too little on schools. Fully fund us and don’t dare ask us anything about our operation because civilians (taxpayers) don’t know the inner working of a school system. The public school budgets already eat up over half of the revenue a city/borough receives. I like cops, parks and highways plowed too. It’s time to return to boundary schools only with little if any special schools eating up a disproportional share in a district’s budget. I couldn’t care less if the parent demands these special spots or not. Pay the difference in operating cost if you have failed to develop your kids to an acceptable level from age 1-5. I realize this new idea will offend some senior teachers who (in their minds) have earned a vacation from real teaching to land a position in one of the special education/career spots… Also a change in the law that would allow a parent to get ALL the money spent on their child so they go to a non-affiliated with the district charter school, Catholic, or any religious or private school where the focus is on academics and not football, hockey, plays, special kids days off and making sure the kids have a good time. The free market floats all ships. Parents and not overpaid administrators should decide what their school teaching content should be. And maybe revamp the teachers work-rules so they work at least 80% of the year and cut the herd of people at the school district office down to a reasonable number (a 50% cut for a start)..Have a great day.

    • Most parents know little about curriculum. You are mainly speaking about road system school when you speak about the sports incentive thing. You sure have a lot of gall for not knowing much about the system. Saying people are overpaid, and over staffed. Come up with something new will ya???

      • You sound like a hate filled disgruntled teacher.

    • Agreed! Also, the continued use of the phrase, “voluntary pre-elementary programs” leads me to believe that when this whole nightmare fails, said programs will no longer be voluntary. Cradle to grave socialism at its finest.

  • We need a ballot initiative for the voucher system. Get it passed and you’ll see how the competition with private education will get the current public system going with realistic changes and performance.

  • A well conceived public school voucher system might improve education in Alaska.
    Cannot be sectarian (e.g., no Catholic school, Hebrew school or Christian school funding), per Alaska Constitution.

    • I agree with you. More and better charter schools could fill the void between public schools and sectarian private schools. Many states have already set up terrific charter schools, vouchers, tax credits for parents and companies that donate to non-public schools, and/or other ways. Florida, Philadelphia, and New York to just name a few.

  • We already do all of that. I don’t see anything different. So called professionals have been selling magic pills for decades in an attempt to “fix” the problem with low test scores. Its not broke people. It really isn’t. Stop trying to compare apples to oranges. Alaska’s situation is different than the lower 48. We have quality teachers in the classroom teaching good programs. This teacher of the year wouldn’t make a difference in the bush. Teachers are already doing the song and dance that he may bring. He’s kind of big on himself for winning a popularity contest if you ask me.

  • How about ensuring that the history of the United States is taught CORRECTLY, without left-leaning interpretations, and most importantly, no litmus tests being administered by teachers and professors to determine one’s political leanings.
    This initiative is just another smoke-screen to continue the leftist’s global effort to re-educate the population to their way of thinking. Destroy the past, and the there’ll be no obstruction to the future.

    • I’m with you there. To know the future is to know the past. History repeats itself over and over again. 200 years from now, Hitler himself may be a prophet if we let the lies continue.

  • Susan, learning does begin at infancy and sometimes before birth. The child in the womb can hear what you are saying you know. Sorry, not with ya on this one.

    • Who is Susan?

  • This ain’t goin anywhere.

  • Solution: pay teachers $100K to start and get each kid’s parents to read to them from the time they’re three.

    Oh, and let the teachers, the professionals, run the schools. Give each teacher $100K a year and you will have the pick of the litter. They may even go to Kivalina.

    Problem solved. Smart kids, curious, inventive, engaged…and well educated.

    Unless you let the politicians get involved.

  • Assuming your summary or quotes are accurate, this proposition is both flimflam and drivel. Those learned teachers present no criteria with which to measure their objectives, goals, whatever — sorta kinda like now. This proposition is a waste of electrons, ink, and paper

  • This sounds to me like an attempt to quantify that part of the Alaska Constitution which states the state will provide for a public education or words to that effect. This looks like an attempt to define that. Awhile back I think a law passed in Washington State or a judge ruled that the legislature must fund education and if the legislature doesn’t do that to the satisfaction of the court the court fines the legislation (really taxpayers) an ungodly amount on a daily basis. Its a perfect set up & so would this be if it ever got voted in.

  • As one with children no longer in the system this looks like the education lobby, leeches and unions making a run to take over and control the Permanent Fund as a slush fund.

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