Friday, March 9, 2012

Why Invest in Public Education? Hmmmm...

Some Food for Thought from the good people at Great Alaska Schoolsa citizen coalition:
Q: Why invest in public education ?
A: My son/daughter deserves a great education. We live in the wealthiest state in the nation and should not compromise on this investment.
A/addendum: It is my understanding we have ~ $19 billion in various savings accounts (not including the permanent fund), so we’re not exactly broke, nor likely to be for quite some time.
A: Education is one of the best investments that can be made given today’s globally uncertain economics; increasing human expertise and capacity are fundamental in building a prosperous, dynamic economy.
A: The capacity to think, problem solve, work with diverse groups of people, and communicate remain valuable commodities in today’s globally competitive marketplace.  These skills are developed and honed in our public schools.
A: The cuts now proposed in the ____________School District undermine the quality of the education my son/daughter deserves  (give example of what’s being cut that will impact your family or son/daughter).
A: There are a lot of good things happening in our local schools (give an example).
Commentary:  Providing a steady, solid base of support for public education is one of the best investments you can make.
Commentary on local governance: I hold the local school board accountable for wise use of state and local resources.  It is the Legislature’s job to ensure adequate resources are available to do the job well.
Name, contact information, home community.

How to Contact Your Legislators

Gov. Parnell announced this week that he is supporting an amendment to the budget that includes $30.3 million to help defray the rising costs of energy and student transportation across the state.  This is a great first step and the result of pressure from real people across the state who care about our children's education.  Tell the Legislature that you support this compromise proposal.

All legislators need to hear from constituents about the importance of adequately funding Alaska's schools.  In particular, the House Finance Committee and Governor Sean Parnell need to know that Alaskans care about our schools.

1. Send an email to your legislator (find out who represents you here).

2. Send another email or CC the House Finance Committee (see email addresses below) and Governor Sean Parnell.


Need Talking Points?  

The folks at the citizen coalition Great Alaska Schools have put together some good advice on how to tell your story to policy makers.  They say, "The important ingredient is the human story – how the proposed education budget impacts real people in communities across the state.  It is not just a statistics game.Find their talking points here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Haines Reading Foundation- new ideas that work

The Children's Reading Foundation is a great example of what schools can do with adequate funding.  This partnership was sparked by a new Haines Borough initiative that includes a literacy specialist who works in elementary classrooms and with staff, and takes her work into the community to work with families with young children.  Reading success starts early- this innovative approach helps our children build skills and engages community members to promote literacy.  The Haines School District recognizes that planning for the future will mean success down the line.  By promoting early literacy ages 0-5 they are preparing children to succeed in school, saving the district time and money.
The Haines Reading Foundation is promoting literacy with this fun game around town- have you tried it?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Juneau Empire led with this headline: Parnell Blasts Senate education 'giveaway' on Wednesday.  SB 171 was designed to offset the rising costs of inflation and avoid education cuts but Parnell's comments would have us believe that teachers are getting rich off our kids.  He talked about how much the modest increases would cost the state, but a closer look at the Governor's budget shows where his allegiances are.  The Governor has requested no increases to funding for school districts.  Education and Early Development (the state agency that oversees education in Alaska) has the smallest percentage change of any agency listed.

From the Alaska Budget Report, January 19, 2012 issue:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Haines School Board member Nelle Jurgeleit-Greene just added this letter-writing event on Facebook.  See what school board members are saying. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ready to speak up? A few resources to help...

Haines School Superintendent Michael Byer had a letter to the editor printed in the Chilkat Valley News last week.  Read it here to learn more about about why Haines schools will benefit from modest increases to the per-student funding formula from the Alaska Legislature.  Also, below is a letter he sent to Rep. Bill Thomas, our representative and Co-chair of the House Finance Committee.

If you'd like to see school funding increased for the coming years, it's very helpful to write your own letter or email to your Representative or to Rep. Bill Thomas, since he oversees the committee that is tasked with considering this issue now that SB 171 has passed out of the Senate.  You can email  Bill Thomas or send a letter to Representative Bill Thomas, State Capitol Room 505, Juneau, AK  99801.  If you don't know who your Senator and Representative are, the Division of Elections can help.

It's time to lend my support

So, I've been following the discussion at the Haines School surrounding "forward funding" for public schools in Alaska.  Every year, it seems, our school questions whether we'll have the budget to keep the staff and programs going in our K-12 school.  The Alaska Legislature can help by passing school funding bills early in the session, which takes out the guesswork and allows schools to work on planning for the coming year before the summer- when teachers are actually present to make valuable contributions.  They can also help by ensuring that the funding formula (they call it "base student allocation") for schools keeps up with inflation.

The Alaska State Senate did their part by passing a bill last week- SB 171- that includes modest increases for three consecutive years.  It makes sense because schools will be able to make accurate predictions about their budgets and actually make long-term plans.  As a parent with two kids currently in the school (Dylan is in 4th and Sally is in 1st) and another (Lucia) entering Kindergarten next year, I want my teachers and administrators to have the best possible resources available to them.  At the very least, I expect the state to help us keep up with rising costs- otherwise it's our kids who pay the price.

I've never blogged before, but most people that know me also know that I have plenty of opinions.  I feel like it's time for me to put my opinions to better use- if these posts convince a few more parents to contact their representatives in Juneau and let them know that we're paying attention, then we'll be one step closer to ensuring that our children throughout Alaska get the chances they deserve.

Dylan, Sally and Lucia enjoy a bright winter day!