Last week we learned that the governor believes politics, and ultimately, defending his own power, are more important than children, teachers and schools. As a former educator, Gov. Mike Dunleavy knows full well the value of education and the frenetic pace of finishing the school year.
By threatening to withhold funding, he won’t give our educators the decency and respect of knowing what their budget will be in three months, and schools will lock their doors, teachers will clear their classrooms, and families and children will head into summer with uncertainty. This political stunt will inevitably lead to threats of layoffs, which is precisely what last year’s courageous and proactive Legislature was trying to prevent with forward funding of education.
When teachers are constantly threatened with layoffs, it sends the message that they aren’t valuable and leads to a high rate of attrition out of the state. Alaska already has difficulty attracting and keeping high quality educators due to our fiscal uncertainty and subsequent pink slips. Studies have shown that having a high quality teacher can increase students’ lifetime earnings and their probability of attending college, both of which make for a better Alaska.
Refusing to distribute funding to schools in July is using our children as political pawns. It violates our constitution and is antithetical to who we are as Alaskans. We care for our own, we value community and we prioritize our children. Dunleavy should take his politics and pick a different fight. Our children deserve better.
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.