Every 10 years Alaskans are asked to vote on whether a constitutional convention should be called to rewrite and amend the state’s constitution. Each time since statehood, voters have overwhelmingly voted it down. Unlike an amendment, at a convention, everything in the constitution would be open for change. This could mean radical changes to our ferry system, personal use hunting and fishing, public health, welfare, education and our nonpartisan judiciary process, as well as our cherished right to privacy.
As the retired chancellor of the University of Alaska Southeast, I am especially concerned what calling a convention could mean for education in Alaska. There are three provisions in the Alaska constitution relating to education. Could funding for our public schools and university be put in further jeopardy? We don’t know what will happen if the constitution is opened in a free-for-all convention, but already there are those targeting the educational language with the goal of weakening the educational systems in our state. At a time of economic uncertainty and labor shortages, it is critical that we safeguard our educational institutions. One way to do this is to support our existing constitution.
I ask all Alaskans to support public education by joining me in voting no in November on calling a constitutional convention.