While Anchorage School District Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt has inexplicably prohibited famed brain surgeon and national educational advocate Dr. Ben Carson from visiting Mountain View Elementary School, Carson is planning to visit some private schools in town, as well as a public school in the more accommodating Mat-Su District.
The former secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development under President Trump, Carson was also a prominent Republican presidential candidate in 2016. He is coming to Alaska for a couple of fundraisers for the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, but also planned to visit several other locations as well.
At the Aug. 17 Anchorage School Board meeting, conservative board member Dave Donley asked Bryantt why he blocked Carson’s scheduled visit with local elementary students.
“What board policy was the basis of you denial of former U.S. cabinet secretary Dr. Ben Carson speaking at Mountain View School?” he asked.
“Sure. That’s a great question member Donley,” Bryantt responded. “There’s not a specific policy, uh, it’s within the, uh, authority of the superintendent to make that call.”
Bryantt offered no other rationale, other than to say he “respectfully declined the invitation” to have Carson visit the school.
Donley pressed a bit further.
“So, if Vice President Harris was in town, and she did a fundraiser for the Democrat Bartlett Club, would you not let her speak at one of our schools if she wanted to?” he asked.
“That’s not a situation that I’ve encountered, but these situations are case-by-case, and this isn’t necessarily a partisan thing,” he claimed. “This is really about protocols and just keeping the focus on what it needs to be, which is back-to-school and safety.”
An organizer helping facilitate Carson’s visit said he is now planning to visit two private Christian schools in Anchorage, as well as a public school in the Mat-Su.
Superintendent Bryantt’s rejection of Dr. Carson appears to run contrary to some of the goals he claims to have for public schools. In particular, he promotes the idea that schools should be institutions that prepare students to be “engaged, productive members of our culturally rich community” by offering “real world experiences” to prepare students for life, college and careers.
Carson seems to be just the type of person Bryantt would want students to encounter.
In addition to his public service, Dr. Carson directed pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Children’s Center for three decades. He assumed that post at age 33, becoming the youngest major division director in the hospital’s history. Since then, he has received myriad honors and awards for his achievements, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He also founded, and chairs, the American Cornerstone Institute, which is described as a “think-tank-do-tank.”
— Click here to contact Anchorage Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt.
— Click here to contact members of the Anchorage School Board.
— For specific information on Carson’s upcoming events in Anchorage next week, click here.