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December 18, 2014

No Gov’t Handouts for Private Schools

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Dave Noon, public school parent and History professor, addresses the crowd.

Today in Juneau, hundreds of  concerned parents, students and community members assembled on the steps of the Capitol building to support an increase in school funding (by raising the Base Student Allocation) and to oppose government handouts to private and religious schools.

“We just cannot divert public money to private schools. It’s simply a bad idea,” said Dave Noon, a parent of a public elementary school student and a history professor. “As you look through history, there is no roster of heroes who opposed public education.”

“Constitutional Conservatives” who usually advocate for the Constitution as an unassailable, and unchanging document, and the notion that things should stay as they are, have now abandoned those ideas. Diverting public money to private and religious education is in direct violation of the Alaska State Constitution. And this is no dusty relic demanding to keep up with the times. Alaska’s Constitution is barely 50 years old, and at least one man who helped to write it – Vic Fischer – is still here and loudly advocating to keep it as it was meant to be, and abandon constitutional amendments (SJR9 and HJR1) that would allow public money to go to private schools.

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Kellen attends public school in Juneau.

Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) a former member of the Anchorage School Board who now sits on the House Education Committee spoke out. “We have seen teacher layoffs across the state and flat funding for years. I think Alaskans from every walk of life have had enough, and this is a way to be heard. I’m very excited about the turnout today. It sends a loud message that Alaskans expect us to do better by our public schools.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott issued written remarks:

“Our Founders envisioned a system of public education open to all children of the state. They knew that universal public education is the bedrock of our American democracy and what keeps our businesses the most competitive in the world.

“Is our system perfect?  No, but it is accountable, accountable through elected school boards, accountable through teacher standards. We know we can do better. But the proof of its worth is all around us.

“I do not criticize parents who choose to send their children to private or parochial schools. I owe much of my education to the Mission Boarding School in Skagway and Sheldon Jackson in Sitka.

“There is no doubt we can do education better and we must. As governor, I will welcome an open discussion of how we strengthen and improve education in Alaska.

“But we should take no steps that further disperse the increasingly limited resources available for our public schools. Let us instead reaffirm the values embodied in our constitution, and leave them unchanged.”

During the rally, the PTA of the Juneau Harborview Elementary School held a bake sale to raise money for their school. Over the weekend, Great Alaska Schools hosted sign making parties where Juneau students could create their own signs for the rally.

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Sisters Carmen and Sienna love their school!

The government has already broken the bank with handouts to oil companies. Stand with educators, children, and those who are fighting to prioritize the future. Contact your legislators and tell them we need more money for kids, and to keep the government out of religious and private schools.

Comments

comments

Comments
28 Responses to “No Gov’t Handouts for Private Schools”
  1. Ivan says:

    they say, big gov is evil, keep your stinking big gov hand off my life.
    Then they say give me some of that big gov money to fund my private education.
    HMMM>

    i would agree to funding private education if it were mandated that they could only spend per student per year what the lowest annual amount spent per student in the state is.
    in other words, if they want private education by public money than they get the same shitty education ( or quality if they fund it) that the poorest school or district in the state gets.

    Tie the private money to equal the per student allocation for public education.

    i wonder if we would start funding public education if that were the case.

    If you want an elite education for YOUR child then YOU have to provide the same level of education for EVERYONE’S children.

  2. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    No. No tax money to any kind of private school. Simple and clean. The government spends its money running
    the government and nothing else. Good luck with that.

  3. COalmostNative says:

    Make tax money to private schools contingent on those schools following all of the public school requirements: accept and educate all sudents that apply, including the disabled; take the same standardized tests and post scores annually; similar educational requirements and goals; teacher backgrounds and pay should be similar; pubicize the annual budget, so the public can see where tax money is allocated…

    Most private and parochial schools would refuse the money.

  4. VC says:

    I find it extremely alarming to read these comments. We are all human beings, many of us fellow Alaskans, and all people deserve to be treated with respect, even when we disagree ideologically. If folks would take more than a moment to do a little research, the joint resolutions are aimed at removing language that is religiously discriminatory (much like the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution removed language from that document that was racially discriminatory, something I also believe was 100% correct to change in the interest of equality for all). If the adult populations would find mature attitudes to the point of looking at things from a depth perspective, morally and ethically, instead of jumping on bandwagons to safeguard the status quo (of pitting one group superior over another), a really good conversation will be able to take place. Please study the history of where Blaine language originated – understand its personal and political motivations, even back then. To oppose looking at this critically is to be like the plantation owners at the writing of the Constitution – protecting one’s own ‘economic’ interests over the personal rights of each individual to choose life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness. I urge you to look deeper than the ‘fear of losing the status quo’ – instead, to consider yourselves advocates of children and their families to give them control and freedom to choose what is best for their individual situation. Critical analysis, not critical judgment, is what is needed. Please respectfully provide commentary to give an understanding of why keeping the discriminatory language in the Constitution is the best solution.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Anytime someone starts lecturing me about what constitutes mature attitudes and tops it off with an assertion that I “oppose looking at this critically” I pretty much shut my ears, but I’m going to take a stab at a couple things.
      There is no doubt that the history of Blaine himself . an unrepentant asshat, informs and provides the context of the original views and reasons states adopted so-called Blaine language laws about the prohibition of public funds to “sectarian” schools. I don’t buy . however, that public perception of what those laws mean hasn’t changed in 130+ years. We live those laws differently than folks did when they were enacted to slap Catholics . We have extended our understanding of what constitutes a religious school to include all religions, we have elevated “sectarian” to mean religion . It is no longer merely a perjorative.
      We have excluded all religions from public schools, or more aptly we refuse to allow any sectarian control of schools paid for with public monies. Any and all.
      I like it that way.
      While the Beckett foundation may want to wallow in the origins of the laws as the be all and end all of the discussion, most of the rest of us have moved on.
      We don’t allow the unthinking , built in Protestant education of all our children that was the standard of Blaine’s time anymore either and rightly so.
      Also, too, even, and as well- I am deeply offended at the idea that removing language in our state constitution which provides for non-sectarian control of public schools and prohibits direct funds from being used for religious or any other private education constitutes a redress for religious discrimination.
      The inclusion of language in our constitution :

      Article 7 – Health, Education and Welfare
      § 1. Public Education

      The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

      regarding public monies being used on private ventures, and religious schools are private ventures, is a whole other ball of wax- which has NO thing to do with religion and everything to do with ensuring public monies support the public, not individuals .
      We don’t talk enough about what is the public interest, public rights, community rights and goals anymore.
      Public education as envisioned by such as Jefferson, adjusted to include people of color, women, et al , is still one of the most worthy goals to work towards in all this blab about life, liberty, freedom, happiness stuff and people are still absolutely free to provide religious instruction to their children outside it.

      • slipstream says:

        I agree with you, Pi. I don’t see any religious discrimination in the language of the state constitution. Public money is for public education. Simple and clear.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          The idea that public monies should be allowed to go to private entities for education sets my hair on fire even without the question of religion.The arguments that parents should have a right to choose education as a “product” they want is neo-liberal economics gone wild at worst and straight up blind to developing useful notions of the proper tension between an individual and the community at best. We’ve spent way too much time and money here and across the country in the last 30 years pretending every-(hu)man-is-an-island in the sea of “community” . The focus on negative rights language and action has overtaken notions of positive rights to the point of stoopidity. Equally so, the casting of every human sphere as a set of products and transactions to be weighed by consumers- yech!

          Pushing to amend the state constitution to allow public monies to be used by private entities without understanding that Mr Dunleavy, et al will be the architects of the “how” of that is foolish and shortsighted. Article at the Dispatch today is saying support is waning. We’ll see. I am sick unto perdition of this particular Leg majority. Moving this from Education to Judicial committee to avoid Senator Stevens’ input as an educator was a major red flag for me and nothing has changed my mind since.

    • Mo says:

      Wow, VC, that’s just a masterpiece of bloviation.

      We’re not gonna pay for your theocracy. Get over it.

    • Mike Druce says:

      The wording is brief, concise, and unambiguous. It is precisely so to preempt the kind of argument you are attempting to construe.

      Those with whom you disagree are not cause for alarm, nor do they need to be reminded– and I can think of no exceptions–letter writers and readers are human. As to the issue of mature attitudes, that you and I disagree doesn’t make my opinion less mature, if I view the issue at hand in a much different context than you. I prefer not to be judged nor preached to. I am personally quite clear in my advocacy for children and a healthy public school system as set forth by our state constitution.

  5. mike from iowa says:

    Is there an ongoing problem with this site? If I type faster than one word or less per minute,letters and words come up missing. Plus four days of moderation for comments. Hmmmnnnn. Just curious. :)

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Oh dear.
      Sorry you are having trouble getting here but glad you haven’t abandoned us!! :-D

      • mike from iowa says:

        You and Zyx are about the only two consistent,regulars left. Anyways,my cat returned after being gone for 17 days and not a single e-mail or phone call. I told my neighbor,yesterday I was giving Dummy up for dead. Inconsiderate,black hearted damn wingnut cat. :(

        • Alaska Pi says:

          17 days?!
          lil stinker!

        • benlomond2 says:

          Geez.. Mike ! it took your cat 17 days to woo that filly down the street? You need to change his diet!. or get a prescription for him !
          I’m so wrapped up with school, wedding preps ( had to paint entire inside of the house for wife) and new project at work, I’m thankful they put my name on my badge, so I can remember who the heck I’m suppose to be.. and no, I’m NOT painting the outside too! Pi, if you even THINK of hinting that to wife… i’ll, I’ll…… I’ll do something , !!!
          HOWEVER….. hehee.. weather has been 80 for the past several days, so will be planting next weekend… and think I’ve figured out how to use water from laundry for lawn, and therefore be able to afford drip irrigation for garden,,

          • mike from iowa says:

            Friendly words of advice, my California friend. Finish school before you get married. You can tank me later. Cat left again. Been gone since the last day he came home.S hould celebrate-I’ll save money on eggs and cotto salami and hot dogs if I only feed Dummy once every couple of weeks. Two months before planting season begins. Snake gourds finally dried out. Back below zero by Thursday.

            • benlomond2 says:

              cruising in shorts and flip flops here.. ahhhh!! Must be one heck of female down the block to pass up on eggs and salami !

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    I couldn’t go yesterday as I had to work. So happy to see friends and neighbors showed up in good numbers and with great heart!
    There is a lot, lot, lot wrong with what Gov Torpedo and the doofs in the Legislature are proposing here.
    At present, they are saying all they are proposing is a measure on the ballot to amend our state constitution, to be voted up or down by Alaskans.
    Well, sorta. kinda.
    IF voters approve of this fundamental change, THEN legislation must follow to flesh out the hows, whats, and whos of a method to make this real
    There’s an excellent commentary by Dermot Cole at the Dispatch today:
    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140217/parnell-has-it-backwards-proponents-school-choice-constitutional-amendment-must
    which points to some of the big problems with the push to pass and the doofus ideas to implement it .
    Senator Dunleavy sidesteps dealing with the costs to public education whilst mooning on about a way to give tax credits to businesses who contribute to to private schools as a way to implement the change.
    If
    ‘ “The more appropriate vehicle for a voucher program to be developed in Alaska is through a tax credit approach. This is where a private business gives funds to private or religious schools in return for a tax credit from the state,” he said in a long post on Facebook last April.

    “This approach is safe from court challenges because private business is using private money to fund private/religious schools. No public funding from the state is used,” he said.”
    doesn’t set your hair on fire Alaskans, I’d sure like to know why.

    These doofs want to make a big change, dispense with discussion about what it might cost public education by saying all that talk comes after we make the change, and then do whatever the math afterwards.
    Where is the talk about rural Alaska? About how there would be no meaningful choice for those parents? About how many schools have shut down since 1999? About “parental choice” in too many of those communities being forced to move to get their kids in a school?
    About the problems we already have outside the road-railbelt that the rest of us can’t outvote those in the road-railbelt over already?
    The wealth of this state comes from rural Alaska and every frickin dollar for schools, infrastructure, and the like has to be begged back by rural folks, esp those in the unorganized borough.
    All these questions sit right up there with the problems of flat funding and the like and these doofs just wave their lil hands like these are distractions.
    I don’t think so, Gov Torpedo and your allies. I don’t think so.
    Pfffttt! on all of it. Just flat Pfffttt!!

  7. InJuneau says:

    Ah, look, bunches of my friends, young and old, standing up for public schools!

  8. Tallimat says:

    Ah yes Juneau.
    Such a faraway place.

  9. Zyxomma says:

    Governor Giveaway (as long as it’s to dirty energy companies) must be booted out of office, and replaced with someone who cares about you, Alaskans. That oil company giveaways are more important to him than schools, roads, firefighters, police officers, etc. tells me everything I need to know about him.

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