November 15th was a big night for the Alaska chapter of Parent’s Rights in Education’s (PRIE). Gathered at the at Loussac Library, community members’ politicians, and parents joined PRIE’s First Annual Celebration to discuss a long overdue topic – parents’ rights.

Anchorage School Board candidate Mark Anthony Cox speaks during the Nov. 15 Parent’s Rights in Education event in Anchorage.

The idea of parental rights should be a foredrawn conclusion, and not one we need to defend. Unfortunately, parental involvement has suffered due to heavy work schedules and lack of communication from local schools. Monday night’s meeting, however, served as motivation and encouragement for parents to engaged with our public schools.

The meeting kicked off with Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson addressing the crowd.

After fondly remembering the days – not too long ago – when parents were highly involved in their children’s education, Bronson recognized the need for change in our current situation. Pointing to the recent elections and political movements in both Virginia and New Jersey, the mayor emphasized that change is still possible.

“At the end of the day it’s up to you folks – parents and the pastors and the civic leaders to take control of the school system, because the left certainly understands what it takes to take control of the society, and that’s to take control of the schools,” he said. “You only lose if you quit. You only lose if you decide not to show up.”

PRIE co-chairs Leigh Sloan and Sherry Smith spoke briefly about some of the group’s goals, as well as the importance of the movement.

It is parents who are ultimately responsible for instilling culture, morals, and values in their children. This is an essential right that must not be violated.

“Leigh and I are looking forward to making some positive changes in helping all parents, and to encompass as many parents as we can into advocating for their children’s education,” Smith said. “We’re shaping and molding the future of our community, so it’s very important that we all become engaged.”

Leigh is no stranger to the public education. A former public school teacher and now a homeschooling parent, she has seen both sides. At the heart of her speech, Sloan pointed out the lopsided nature of the public school system, where union-backed teachers have an amplified voice, while parents typically have no organized group to draw support from.

Without vocal advocacy, Sloan and many other parents believe parental rights are under siege – rights such as medical freedom, being able to provide meaningful input about school curriculum, or being informed and equipped to opt their children out of material or classes that they disagree with or believe should be taught at home. PRIE aims to protect all these rights and more.

“We are our kids’ first teachers,” Sloan emphasized. “We are the gatekeepers and there is no one that is going to love them like we do. There is no one that knows them like we do … We have the best interest of our children at heart.”

The evening included the introduction of a Parents’ Rights Proclamation, which states in part that “fairness and equality must be afforded to all students and families in the school district.” The entire proclamation is posted here.

The evening entailed noteworthy speakers including Anchorage Assembly candidates Stephanie Taylor and Kathy Henslee, along with Anchorage School Board candidate Mark Anthony Cox and Mat-Su School Board Members Jubliee Underwood and Tom Bergey. Also on hand were Anchorage School Board Member Dave Donley and State Senator Roger Holland.

Though PRIE has not endorsed any candidates, the group gives voice to those who support parental rights, and they are looking to give all upcoming candidates an opportunity to share their views on key topics. Several teachers and administrators were also in attendance.

As a current teacher and parent, attending this meeting gave me a renewed sense of hope for the future of public education. There is no better way to improve the educational outcomes and mental well-being of our children than to partner together as parents and teachers. Parents are the primarily teachers of their children.

While a school should be a safe and welcoming place for students, academics must be a school’s number one goal. It is parents who are ultimately responsible for instilling culture, morals, and values in their children. This is an essential right that must never be violated.

For more information about PRIE’S Alaska Chapter, sign up information, and future events by visiting PRIE Alaska.

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New group empowers Alaskans to exercise parental rights in public schools

Dawn Bockelman
Dawn Bockelman is an elementary school teacher, mother of two, and a lifelong Alaskan.


  • Steve P Peterson says:

    All well and good, and more power to them, but public education has, by its very nature, a foundation of godlessness. John Dewey’s main goal was to make sure schools produced good little citizens for the state. If you are a conservative and a Christian, and you want your children to reflect your values and have a theistic worldview, best to get them out of public schools post haste.

  • Wisdom Cries in the Streets says:

    Glad to hear it.
    However, I didn’t leave public schools – they left me and mine. My youngest are homeschooled and we’ll never go back. I’ll vote for the good of all – but I’ll no longer support the schools with my kids’ enrollment or my precious time.

    Best of luck to you all.

  • david Boyle says:

    Outstanding article. Dawn is correct–parents and all citizens need to get actively involved to ensure the public schools are educating our children academically. The ASD should be focusing on its core business–educating all students. The ASD should intensely focus on teaching our kids how to read. That means providing 2 to 3 hours per day of intense reading instruction to those children who need it to be able to read at grade level by 3rd grade. If a child cannot read at grade level by 3rd grade, that child will have a very difficult time with other subject matter and may eventually be a drop out. Focus on reading. Teach the children how to read.

    • Larry Wood says:

      My wife put in 24 years with ASD doing exactly that, teaching 2d and 3d graders how to read and to write what they thought, report what they read. You would be surprised at how many could not when they came to her class. ASD loses the kids between the 4th and 5th grades, why, no one seems to know or to care. Since my wife retired, ASD has gone woke big time. You get what you vote for and the Dems have no intention of producing literal, useful citizens. They want followers, no leaders.

  • rachel benson says:

    In 2012, the U.S. Court for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Anchorage School Board cannot avail themselves of qualified immunity if they are aware of harmful effects that may result from their school mask wearing decisions. As individuals, they can be held personally liable if children are harmed from their decision to require children as young as five years old to wear masks in school all day. At a minimum, a policy change of an optional mask protocol for students based on the scientific evidence is required immediately.

    • jon says:

      Children are not harmed by wearing masks unless their parents tell them they will be.

      • Sharon Alice Turner says:

        This ridiculous nonsense is the problem. Common sense : We have endured mass outbreaks of various annual “Flu”, aka viruses since the foundation. Have we ever required masking of any aged groups, even in the 1910s to 30’s when TB was rampant (cause of tens of thousands of deaths during 1918 pandemic (“Underlying causes just as today) People we told to eat healthy, stay home if sick etc.. Masks are not designed to repel tiny viruses, only ‘germs, aka bacteria.. A 5th to 7th grader knows this. Learn the difference between science, and common sense and totalitarianism!

  • jon says:

    Children are not harmed by wearing masks unless their parents tell them they will be.

  • John J. Otness says:

    Children that breath leftist mud are not harmed by wearing a mask. But Oxygen breathing strong children are harmed.
    Its simple Biology That the nose ringed tainted bloods will never understand.

  • John J. Otness says:

    Thank you. Dawn… Momma Grizzlys Rise!!!

  • jh says:

    Former Attorney General Bill Barr, in his first speech since leaving the Justice Department, railed against what he called the “secular progressive orthodoxy through government-run schools,” and
    QUESTIONED the constitutionality of “funding such public institutions”.
    “The time has come to admit that the approach of giving militantly secularist government schools a monopoly over publicly funded education has become a disaster,”
    Barr said public schools have become totally incompatible with traditional Christianity and other major religions in the U.S., and therefore, “it may no longer be fair, practical or even constitutional to provide publicly funded education solely through the vehicle of state-funded schools.”
    The former attorney general also pointed to an Iowa school’s week of Black Lives Matter curricula, a plan that had forced the school on defense, saying the goal was to “promote focusing on our Black students.”
    Separately, Barr said he’d seen school materials which told children that everyone could choose whether they were male, female or neither. “This is not established science,” he said, but rather the “moral, psychological, metaphysical dogma of the new orthodoxy.”
    The former attorney general said these ideas were relatively unheard of in the U.S. until recently but have become fully instituted in many public-school systems.
    Barr called such ideas “a broadsided attack on natural law.”
    Barr also took a shot at former President Obama for “waltzing into Washington,” and enrolling his daughters in the prestigious private school Sidwell Friends, while at the same time eliminating a scholarship for needy kids in Washington.
    ***On the subject of Critical Race Theory, Barr called it “Marxism substituting race, for class antagonism.”
    “It’s monstrous of the state to indoctrinate students into alternate belief systems,” he added.