Sean Parnell on Education
Today, eight districts use video conferencing to reach our more remote schools. Course instruction is delivered in real time, so students can take courses not otherwise available to them.
The Alaska Digital Teaching Initiative will empower our teachers to reach beyond their own classrooms and districts. Digital teaching can bring together students from Tanana and Ruby with Fairbanks students. Not only will students have access to a more diverse array of classes, they will have access to a more diverse array of insights.
The US Supreme Court has affirmed a parent's right to make these choices under what they call the "private choice test:" The education spending must have a valid secular purpose; the aid must go to parents and not the schools; the education program must be neutral with respect to religion; and there must be adequate non-religious options.
[We should put this issue to] the people for a vote. On this question--whether parents ought to have a greater say in their child's education--it is time legislators let Alaskans decide.
While a constitutionally protected fund would be the most secure in the long term, a designated fund with sufficient capitalization to provide the estimated $20 million annual need for Alaska Performance Scholarship awards will provide a sustainable funding stream.
With the Governor's Performance Scholarship proposal, all Alaskan high school students can earn tuition for an in-state university or job-training program. They must complete a more rigorous curriculum than what's now required to graduate from high school. But for students who take this curriculum, better grades will mean greater tuition awards. If a student maintains a C+ average but completes this more rigorous curriculum, they will earn 50% of their tuition; a B average will earn them 75% tuition and with an A average while taking this tougher curriculum, a young person will earn 100% tuition for an in-state university or job-training program. Merit scholarships work.