SJR 9 offers little choice to Alaska students


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As a teacher, and as a single mother of three girls in the Anchorage School District, I have some very serious concerns about Alaska Senate Joint Resolution 9.

Before I voice those concerns, I would first like to say thank you. Thank you to all of the legislators in Juneau who have made education such a strong priority this year. Thank you to the parents and community advocates such as Great Alaska Schools who have stood up for education and educators. Efforts to increase base student allocation and retain educators are both appreciative and worthwhile endeavors from which your students and communities will benefit from in both the short, and long-term. Finally, thank you to our students. Watching students testify about issues that will directly impact their education with knowledge, passion, and grace, has made me both proud and inspired.

As to SJR 9, my concerns are numerous. I question who will benefit from much touted “choice.” I fear that even with supplemental funds the majority of lower and middle-income families would still be unable to afford private school tuition, let alone additional cost concerns such as transportation and resources. This leads me to wonder if we are truly offering choice to all Alaska students or merely supplementing an education for those who can already afford it. I appreciate what private schools are doing for their students and I think public schools have a lot to learn from their successes.

In the end we all want what is best for our children. We all want small class sizes, motivated educators and academic choice. I would just ask that before we make constitutional amendments we review the economic realities and determine whether or not our actions will truly initiate more choice, or add more limitations for our students.

 

— Valerie Spencer

Eagle River

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