Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Loss of Two Educators

This week we have lost two educators and the pain is deep. First, we heard of a blow to the entire West High School family in Anchorage. Ten year veteran teacher, Dale Brabec, was enjoying his spare time at Bird Creek south of the city and an apparent accident took his life. My heart goes out to his young family, his students, and his colleagues. This morning I received word that Caroline Wolforth has passed on. Caroline was a longtime educator and proponent of alternative education programs. Her voice and hands were felt throughout the educational community for many years. She was a volunteer, she established many community-based programs, and was a strong advocate for children in Anchorage and Alaska. She shaped much of our thinking and action related to the work of community members and their impact on the lives of our students. She will be greatly missed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Winding Up and Winding Down in Juneau

The last days of the first session of the 27th Alaska State Legislature are upon us. The end date is April 17th at midnight and there is still much that has yet to be decided at this point. Late today, SB 84 (Senate Education) was given a Committee Substitute that looked little like the original bill. All reference to the Base Student Allocation (BSA)has been stripped out of the document. It now contains money for voc/tech (CTE)at about $11.5 million in total, tax credits for donations to intercollegiate activities, and $500,000 per year for a three year pilot in the Iditarod School District for a "theme based" program. Representative Les Gara tried to insert an increase to the BSA back into the bill. He, Rep. Guttenberg, and Rep. Doogan voted yes on the ammendment. All others voted no. They include Representatives Neuman, Costello, Edgmon, Thomas, Stoltz, Fairclough, Wilson and Joule. I wonder if these elected officials are considering the consequences for children in their school districts. Or, are they thinking more about pushing back at the Senate in a power battle?

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Ever Spring Leadership Academy!

Wow, what an exhilarating weekend of training and sharing! We offered four strands of training for members from across the state and the response was incredible! The new format and offerings are part of a new strategy to develop members as leaders. We offered something for everyone. There was training for emerging leaders, experienced local leaders, training for those interested in putting themselves into a greater role in a political sense, and a strand for those already in offices within the Association. We had two excellent keynote speakers, Armand Tiberio who heads up the NEA Pacific Region Office as Executive Director, and Paula Monroe from the NEA Executive Committee. Both speakers were inspiring and energetic. We all left the conference with real belief that "We Are One" and "We can get the job done!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We ARE one, we are EVERYWHERE, and we will NOT be stopped!

This week was inspirational. We stood side by side with leaders in our communities and talked about the impact laborers have had on middle class America. This was not just union members. These were board members, business leaders, leaders in our faith communities and ordinary citizens. We came together to show solidarity and unity. We came together to show decision makers that we believe in the ideals of the American dream. We believe our battles for equity are just and must be heeded if our society is to move forward. I thank all those who helped coordinate rallies, made signs, stood in the rain, honked the horns on their vehicles and everyone who supports our efforts. Outstanding rallies were held in Ketchikan, Juneau, Soldotna, Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Anchorage. We were there and we showed our unity with the communities in which we live and work to provide the very best to the children of Alaska!