I am a product of our State’s public education system. I went to Fairview Elementary, Central Middle School, West High School and finished it all off with a degree at UAA. Public education worked for me and my wife Melissa. Both of us were born into a difficult socially economic situation and were able to get a good public education, and used that education to succeed in life. So, I understand the importance of having an education system that is available to all children irrespective of social status or income. I also understand the importance of a free lunch for hungry kids in our school system because I once was that hungry kid.
Traveling around Alaska’s villages, often the school building is the only place to stay at night. Getting up in the morning you see all the kids getting in. Some are showering because there is no water at home and some are eating because school is a place to get a meal, which is not available at home. There is no private school or voucher system that can serve the needs of all Alaskan children. Voucher systems and privatization efforts of public schools take away resources from the most vulnerable children in our society.
It is a popular thing to say that children are our future, but often we fall short of what is meant by that statement. We see class sizes increasing and teachers being laid off. We need to make sure we invest in our future by supporting public education and we should thank our teachers for the invaluable work they are doing of educating the next generation of Alaskans.