With Democrats controlling the Alaska State Senate, and a narrowly divided State House, activists are mobilizing all their considerable resources to push through Senate Bill 52 which includes a massive $250 million increase for government-run schools.
Peddling the same tired, worn-out arguments, they claim that if we spent millions more, Alaska’s children might actually learn basic reading and math. If only schools had additional administrators, programs, interventions, trainings, nurses, psychologists, teachers, school buildings and an ever-larger overall apparatus, then – and only then – kids might succeed.
They claim that the $20,000 in state, federal and local money which Alaska currently spends on each and every student is simply not enough. Lack of funds is why 77% of public school students fail math, while another 70% can’t read at grade level.
In truth, money is not the problem. Our public schools have simply lost whatever ability they once had to impart an average education. Rather than teaching kids about American history, great literature and rigorous and compelling math and science, career educators spend their time focused on finding ways to expand explicit sex ed, critical race theory, modern psycho-therapy and LGBTQ and equity initiatives. At the same time, they have placed an emphasis acquiring the most rudimentary skills rather than teaching inspired and proven content.
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Instead of approving historic increases in new funding, Alaska lawmakers and Gov. Dunleavy should focus on demanding accountability and expanding educational options for Alaskan families. How about increasing charter and homeschool programs or incentivizing boroughs to offer property tax breaks for residents who set aside money to privately educate their children?
We could also attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that allows the state to directly partner with private schools in the delivery of education.
For too long, Alaska has capitulated to the demands of a massive, unionized public educational juggernaut, which deliberately stifles competition and produces dismal results. Pumping hundreds of millions more into this objectively failing system is not, as State Senators Gary Stevens and Loki Tobin claim, a “bold approach” to improving schools. It’s a disastrous recipe for sustained failure.
The views expressed here are those of the author.