Summary: Several legislators from coastal Alaska told the crowd they were fighting for the ferries. Story held up a copy of the Empire which had a story about the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying AMHS was a priority and said she intends to hold them to that.
Robb Arnold, vice chair of Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific, which organized the rally, is speaking now.
“It takes people to walk upstairs and talk to legislators,” he said. “Make the phone calls, write letters to your newspaper and start them up.”
The crowd starts chanting “start them up.”
Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, addresses the crowd, check out the video:
“We can attribute some of this to malice, but a lot of it is incompetence,” Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau tells the crowd to a large cheer.
“Legislators are hearing your voices and making the change happen, so thank you,” Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, tells the crowd.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, at the mic, points out legislators from around the state in the crowd.
“Why are they here?” he asks. “They’re here because they support the Alaska Marine Highway System because they know it ties the state together.”
Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, spoke next.
“From the tribes perspective, enough is enough,” he said. “Our communities are the most affected. This marine highway is the lifeblood of Alaska.”
“People who come from a place of privilege say, ‘Well, that’s your choice.’ Our forefathers were here. To tell us that our way of life is a choice, we’ll you can leave Alaska,” Peterson said.
The crowd then breaks into a chant of “enough is enough.”
Noon: Over 100 people are outside the Alaska State Capitol, rallying in support of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Here’s Nancy Barnes, leading a dance group to open the rally.
Summary: The university is struggling but it is looking to refine its programs, particularly towards workforce development and teaching and nursing are chief among those programs. There has been a lot of uncertainty around the university with regard to the budget but UA is working very hard to lay out clear pathways for students.
The Alaska Reads Act will require a number of teachers and specialists and the university is committed to working with the state and local school districts to provide professional development.
Alaska has one of the lowest completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA which can help students find ways to pay for college. UAF has started a financial literacy program to help students better manage their funds, Layer says.
Concern about debt is a large concern for Alaskan students and many of the recruitment strategies focus on financial aid.
Alaska is one of the most debt-adverse states, Layer says. While there are programs like the Alaska Performance Scholarship, many of those programs do no pay for the full cost of attending a university.
Expansion of remote education is helping to keep cost of living down as students can remain at home or in their own community, he says.
Alaska has one of the lowest college attendance rates in the country, Layer says. That’s in part because there are a number of well-paying jobs within the state that do not require a degree. But as the state tries to transition to an information economy UA is trying to ramp up its recruitment strategies, he says.
Each of the three universities have their own strategies and focus on their own specialties.
“Every employee at every one of our universities is a recruiter,” Layer says, “every employee is a retention specialist.”
The university is trying to increase its student recruitment with marketing campaigns which show clear pathways for students to the university and towards education.
In the longer term the university is looking at reduced tuition for students in education programs, both undergraduates and in Masters programs for students from non-education programs.
UA is expected to graduate 158 first-time license program students in 2020. This is a low number and Atwater thinks that the amount reflects a “bottoming-out” of the program. He believes the number of students will rise again in the coming years.
UA teachers are well received in the state, Atwater says, based on surveys of school principals. UA trained teachers also tend to stay in the state longer than teachers recruited out of state, he says.
“Here in Alaska people aren’t drawn to teaching as they have been in the past,” Atwater tells the committee. “The teaching profession is perhaps more complicated than it was in the past. There’s a lot more required of teachers now.”
The lack of incentives can combine with those factors can drive people away from the profession, Atwater says. Additional, many of the students who graduate with teaching credentials don’t end up taking a job in teaching.
In Jan. 2019, the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation, leading to those students to transfer to the Fairbanks or Southeast campuses of UA.
“The university has failed the education system in this state,” Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage says. For three years he listened to university representatives talk about how they were working to recruit more teachers.
The committee is taking a brief at ease while the room is prepared for the next presentation from the University of Alaska on teacher education and student recruitment.
Dr. Paul Layer, UA vice president of academics, students and research and Steve Atwater, UA executive dean, UA College of Education are presenting.
Layer and Atwater’s presentation to the committee can be found here.
Dr. Mark Stock, deputy superintendent of the Anchorage School District says previous to Alaska he worked in Indiana and Wyoming, both of which are in the top 10 in terms of reading scores.
Indiana eliminated lower track classes and raised its standards for what students would be able to do. In Wyoming, funding was provided for tutors, coaches and other support for students.
There are many avenues for alternative proof of proficiency for reading and waivers available for parents in the bill, Stock says.
Dr. Monica Goyette, superintendent of the Mat-Su Valley School District, tells the committee that retention should be a critical component of the Act.
”In K-3 we teach children to read, in 4th grade the transition to reading to learn happens,” Goyette tells the committee by phone. “Retention on it’s own is not a silver bullet, it is one of many tools that can be available to students, teachers and parents.”
The state should focus on results rather than what she called, “efficiency based promotion.”
The state has a shortage of teachers, particularly in rural communities, Department of Education and Early Development Commission Michael Johnson tells the committee.
But there are a number of support staff, teachers aides and others, who provide great education and tend to remain in those communities for much longer. The state should try and find a balance between training those aides to help with the goals of the Alaska Reads Act.
Today at the Capitol: The Senate Education Committee is meeting this morning to discuss changes to the Alaska Reads Act. The bill is making its way through committees, receiving feedback from educators and is being updated. The committee will also hear from University of Alaska staff about teacher training programs.
The Alaska Reads Act calls for special training in reading instruction and specialists for intervention when children are not reading up to level.
At noon on the steps of the Capitol there will be a rally in support of the Alaska Marine Highway System.