Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska on education

September 7, 2008

What is Sarah Palin’s record on education as Governor of Alaska?  One place to look would be her two State of the State addresses to the Alaska legislature, in which she laid out her plans for education.  These speeches do not indicate what was actually enacted into law in the following legislative session, but they offer a glimpse of what Palin hoped to do.

So here are the education sections of her speeches, without comment – except that at the end of the post, I include her office’s release of Alaska’s educational acheivement on standards measures, as recorded in 2008.

Alaskans?  How did she do?  Comments are open.

I especially invite comments on the contrasts between Sen. McCain’s acceptance speech and Gov. Palin’s speeches.

Alaska’s Gov. Sarah Palin on education in her 2007 State of the State address:

. . . First, my philosophy: More government is not the answer. But we all know government’s proper role is to help change the conditions to improve lives and economically stimulate communities. Government can’t make you happy, it can’t make you healthy, it can’t make you a productive member of society. Government’s role is to provide the tools.

One such tool is education. My commitment to education is unwavering.

My budget includes fully funding the “K through 12” foundation formula. In addition, I’ve included more than $200 million in new dollars to cover the increased retirement costs for local school districts, so that more local school district dollars get into the classroom, where the money belongs.

Remember, we’re facing a potential $10 billion dollar PERS / TRS retirement plan shortfall that affects local schools. Our $200 million dollar line item for school districts is part of the half BILLION dollar proposal to help the districts, local governments and the state alleviate the pension plan burden while we work with the Legislature on a long-term solution.

I’ve also committed to help provide local school districts with more predictability, for better planning by supporting “early funding of education.” So I’ll introduce a separate education appropriation bill and ask the Legislature to begin work on it immediately and ask that it’s passed within the first 60 days of the session. Our local school districts deserve to know what they have to work with early enough for them to create efficiencies through planning. They shouldn’t have to “pink slip” teachers in the spring, and make “last minute” rehire attempts in the fall.

But my vision for education is NOT only about funding – it’s about changing the way we think about, and operate our schools. It’s not the amount of money we pour into each child, but how we spend the money that counts.

We’ll look at successful education programs statewide and Outside that can be replicated, and we’ll look at new approaches! We’ve got to do something different. Our high school graduation rate is 61%. That’s unacceptable! Our vo-tech opportunities need to grow so that our kids stay in school and then fill the voids in our industries. And at the same time, we need to make sure those who want to go to college are ready.

We know that we need more mechanics, technicians, teachers, doctors, and nurses. We shouldn’t have to import our workforce when it’s growing up before us.

And so a centerpiece of my administration IS our commitment to a “world class education” system. Let’s take education and move beyond No Child Left Behind to ensure that “no ALASKAN is left behind.”

We’ll work with our Congressional delegation to ADAPT federal mandates to fit Alaska. I’m so thankful Sen. Lisa Murkowski is also committed to changing federal requirements so they make sense for the uniqueness here. Flexibility is needed, for rural schools, especially.

To meet our challenges, I’ve asked our departments to bring together the private sector, the Department of Labor, postsecondary institutions, and our wonderful alternative education choices, including home schools, to ensure that students have the skills to meet Alaska’s workforce needs. And, I will continue to ask families and individuals to take more responsibility.

You’ll hopefully find this theme consistent throughout my administration – cooperative efforts and personal accountability.  . . .

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivering her 2008 State of the State address, January 15, 2008 - Photo from Palins official website

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivering her 2008 State of the State address, January 15, 2008 - Photo from Palin's official website

Gov. Palin’s remarks on education in her 2008 State of the State Address, January 15, 2008:

. . . Challenges lie ahead, but let’s look back at the last year and at some accomplishments. In Education, we are shaping a three-year funding plan to finally shift the school debate from perpetual “money talk” to accountability and achievement! We are focusing on foundational skills needed in the “real-world” workplace and in college.  . . .

It is our energy development that pays for essential services, like education. Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” It’s a privileged obligation we have to “open education doors.” Every child, of every ability, is to be cherished and loved and taught. Every child provides this world hope. They are the most beautiful ingredient in our sometimes muddied up world. I am committed to our children and their education. Stepping through “the door” is about more than passing a standardized test. We need kids prepared to pass life’s tests – like getting a job and valuing a strong work ethic. Our Three-year Education Plan invests more than a billion dollars each year. We must forward-fund education, letting schools plan ahead. We must stop pink-slipping teachers, and then struggle to recruit and retain them the next year.

We will enable schools to finally focus on innovation and accountability to see superior results. We’re asking lawmakers to pass a new K-12 funding plan early this year. This is a significant investment that is needed to increase the base student allocation, district cost factors and intensive needs students. It includes $100 million in school construction and deferred maintenance. There is awesome potential to improve education, respect good teachers, and embrace choice for parents. This potential will prime Alaska to compete in a global economy that is so competitive it will blow us away if we are not prepared. Beyond high school, we will boost job training and University options. We are proposing more than $10 million in new funding for apprenticeship programs, expansion of construction, engineering and health care degrees to meet demands. But it must be about more than funds, it must be a change in philosophy. It is time to shift focus, from just dollars and cents to “caliyulriit,” which is Yupik for “people who want to work.” Work for pride in supporting our families, in and out of the home. Work for purpose and for action, and ultimately destiny fulfilled by being fruitful. It’s about results and getting kids excited about their future – whether it is college, trade school or military. The Lieutenant Governor and I are working on a plan to make attending Alaska’s universities and trade schools a reality for more Alaskans through merit scholarships.

Education achievement statistics from the Governor’s Office, 2008:

spacer Education

What’s the difference between a burro and a burrow?

August 30, 2008





Rabbit burrow, Nature photos CZ

If you can click to this site, you should know the difference.  Do you?

Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival of historic proportions

March 27, 2008

Lent’s over, Easter’s done — time to carnival once again.

Very good stuff in several different carnivals on history and other subjects we like to peruse and ponder while soaking in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

The passings of those who saw history, commemorated at the 12th Carnival of Military History, at Thoughts on Military History:

Next we have a series of posts commemorating the deaths of veterans who have recently passed away. First, at UKNIWM we have a post about the passing away of the last Scottish veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Second, again at UKNIWM, we have a post on the death of the last French veteran of the First World War. Finally, we have a post at Rantings of a Civil War Historian about the anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Shrapnel, the inventor of the shrapnel artillery shell. [Link on Shrapnel not working]

There’s a whole lesson plan in that paragraph, all of it important and fascinating, and none of it important in your state’s history standards, probably.

A Hot Cup of Joe, appropriately, hosts the Four Stone Hearth #37, the carnival of archaeology — in a strangely futuristic Pulp Science Fiction fashion. Go see the thing just for the pulp sci-fi images, if you must — but as usual there are great gems there. This week our youngest son expressed some exasperation at the short shrift given Angkor Wat in high school texts, which led to a discussion about cultures and histories generally not part of the U.S. canon. Four Stone Hearth features a post at Wanna Be An Anthropologist that digs through Angkor Wat in some depth. I love timely posts.

These things lead off into all sorts of rabbit trails. Wanna Be An Anthropologist also has this post on “Mogollon Snowbirds,” a wry title twist on a very good, deep post on archaeology and anthropology study in the Mogollon Rim area of Arizona. No bit conclusion, but sources you can use, and a great look at what real scientists really do.

We’re all back from spring break in our household, but still appreciative of the Teachers Gone Wild edition of the Carnival of Education (#165), at Bellringers.

New school in Toronto, Kohn Schnier Architects New elementary school in Toronto, Ontario; architecture by Kohn Schnier Architects.

One feature on the Education Carnival midway was this post, “Luddite Lite,” at Teacher in a Strange Land. It’s sharp little spur under my seat, about actually using technology to promote learning for the students, rather than as a crutch for the teacher. But in that blog’s archives, right next door to that post, is this evocative post from a 30-year, in-the-trenches veteran teacher, to my old boss at Education, Checker Finn — a response to one of his posts (which we’ve commented on before). What makes education work? Are you delivering it? Check out both posts.

Oops. Gotta scoot. Lesson plans to tweak.

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