Editor’s note: The text below is taken from a longer message from State Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) to her followers. It addresses the difficulty the Alaska Legislature faces in attempting to craft constitutionally sound law that would satisfy a ruling by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman who struck down the state’s popular and quickly expanding homeschool allotment program.


This is the final full week of your legislature’s regular session and with three days next week, the gavel should come down in adjournment sine die on May 15 – but will it?

Sen. Shelley Hughes

Superior Court Judge Zeman put the question of adjournment into a tailspin last Thursday when he chose to grant the NEA plaintiffs’ request for a brief stay (suspension) on his court ruling that the core public correspondence school statutes are unconstitutional. The State of Alaska had requested a stay until the Alaska Supreme Court had reached a decision to prevent any disruptions to the education of nearly one out of five public school students. The judge turned down the State’s request and granted the NEA’s* request.

The judge listened to the union whose job is to lobby for funds for employees but not to the State whose job is to ensure children receive an excellent education. 

*Because NEA is footing the bill for the plaintiffs, I am using shorthand and referring to the “NEA” as the plaintiffs although they as an organization are technically not the plaintiff. The plaintiffs are Alexander Edwards, Josh Andrews, Shelby Beck Andrews, and Carey Carpenter.

Judge Zeman first created uncertainty for students and now has created uncertainty for the legislative branch, the executive branch, and school districts throughout the state.

The shorter stay creates more uncertainty and chaos for correspondence families. Because correspondence is not based on a typical nine-month school calendar and is available year-round. The legislature does not have the summer months to analyze and vet policy options.

If I didn’t know any better, I would say the judge is essentially attempting to force the rushed adoption of statutes to appease the NEA-backed plaintiffs and their attorney.

With too short of a stay, the judge has created an untenable situation in the people’s branch. He handed down a mess – a ruling that lacks precision and clarity and seems to be based on very little knowledge of a myriad of other educational programs in statute that involve public funds directed to private and religious educational institutions. He failed to analyze and consider the “direct benefit” language in the state constitution. The court could determine that the allotment is ultimately designed to benefit the student, not to benefit private educational institutions.

If I didn’t know any better, I would say the judge is essentially attempting to force the rushed adoption of statutes to appease the NEA-backed plaintiffs and their attorney.

The judge should have known better than to give the deliberative lawmaking branch of government such a narrow window (two-months) to address his ruling to keep the public correspondence program afloat when he took a wide window (14.5-months) to determine his ruling.

The judge took more than 14 months to break it and gave the legislature less than 2 months to fix it.

His short-sighted stay could also cost the state millions in a 10-day extension of the legislature and/or a special session.

Ironically, in trying to clean egg off NEA and company’s face, the judge, by issuing too brief of a stay period has added yet another layer of it – with plenty of splash-back of yolk and albumen landing on his own face.

The State of Alaska Department of Law filed an appeal to Judge Zeman’s April 12th ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court on Friday with a request that it be expedited. The Department of Law will also be filing a request to the Alaska Supreme Court to extend the short stay granted by the lower court; the request will be for the extension to remain in place until the appeal process is complete, and the Alaska Supreme Court has issued its decision.

In the meantime, the legislature will have to make some temporary tweaks so the public correspondence programs across the state can continue. Because the Alaska Supreme Court could overrule the Superior Court’s decision, I am advocating that the current statutes not be repealed.

My big question now is how do we craft a temporary fix and not run afoul of violating the equal protection provisions in the Alaska State Constitution and the US Constitution?

Since our state allows public funds for private educational institutions for other groups of students (preschool, postsecondary, public neighborhood school students, etc.), how do we craft a temporary band-aid that is not discriminatory toward public correspondence students? I’m not sure we can follow Judge Zeman’s ruling without violating the equal protection provision.

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Alaska state senator blasts judge for wreaking ‘havoc’ on homeschoolers and lawmakers alike

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Thank you for nothing Shelly

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    They’re not schools, their breading grounds. To turn your kids into a, hatred disrespecting evil loving person. You’re not in charge of me (parents) you have No Right to tell me what to do. Look what’s going on, on college campuses the last few weeks.

  • Steve says:

    And the NEA always touts, “It’s about the children”. I’m so tired of the teachers union, they could care less about the children. I’m believing that all teacher are in the same boat, otherwise they’d be speaking up. All teacher’s care about is get more pay, control over government, and getting vast holidays and summers off.

    • Dan says:

      The few disagreeing teachers, (possibly more than we know) don’t dare speak up or they get bullied and ostracized by the liberal woke NEA members. I’ve known a couple who dared to speak up and they were harassed endlessly. I think too much of the teacher “education” in today’s colleges is more about political and union activism and very little about being teachers. I say this after having a student teacher live with us and hearing from some of our more conservatie teacher friends.

  • Susie Garcia says:

    Looking at the docket the judge heard oral arguments in Oct 2023 and issued his decision less than 6 months later. Your claim he took 14.5 months is inaccurate.

  • Sarah says:

    It’s not hard. Twenty-five thousand students across the state of Alaska use correspondence sometimes not just by choice, some places in Alaska need to have correspondence because of remote locations. How are those kids going to get education they need? Here is the fix if religious institutions are the hot button… correspondence students are already vetted with this issue, you cannot buy or use anything written or produced by religious institutions (even mathematics). That being said don’t destroy an entire public school correspondence program, just ban religious private schools. As sad as that is, if that allows the original allotment program to stand then we can sacrifice religious private schools. However, throwing out the entire program…twenty-five thousand students are going to suffer. This seems more of a money and power grab to me. Those students will not end up going back to public school… so if that’s the thinking, it’s not going to happen. What a mess this judge has made out of one of the best states for homeschooling families.