Opinion: Education reform is not about the money

Opinion: Education reform is not about the money

Spending more money is not improving education for our children.

  • By CAROL CARMAN
  • Sunday, March 31, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

When Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveiled his proposed budget, it shocked many educators. Since then, the narrative presented by some in the education community is that the governor does not care about education or children. However, from my experience as an educator, I know that this is a false narrative designed to protect the status quo rather than improve educational outcomes.

Throughout my years of teaching, I have witnessed the teachers union and some in administration use fear, manipulation and rhetoric to convince the public that education cuts will devastate schools and programs. School districts always threaten to increase class sizes, close schools, cut out sports and lay off teachers. They specifically target teachers for the cuts.

[After hearing from 1,800 Alaskans, House ready to form budget to counter Dunleavy’s]

The unions and administration team up to make teachers squeal, threaten, gnash their teeth at us and show up for public testimony to manipulate public sentiment. Some educators use every method available to convince you that Alaska’s education system will collapse with education budget reductions. It’s their standard practice and you have seen it throughout the years.

It is pure propaganda. Please don’t fall for it.

To have a rational discussion about education funding in Alaska, it is important to have the facts. Alaska’s teachers are extremely well paid, but scored near or at the bottom in almost every measurable education outcome for students. We have increased the rate of funding for education more than any other state while our results have plummeted to the bottom.

[Opinion: Our children must learn to read by age 9]

Dunleavy’s proposed budget should not be a surprise. He campaigned on reducing the size of government and getting our fiscal house in order. The previous governor and Legislature spent more than $14 billion from savings and grew spending at an unsustainable rate. Recognizing this, the governor promised he would present a balanced budget and protect our savings. He promised the budget he presented would be honest, predictable and sustainable. He promised his budget would protect the private sector and not take Permanent Fund Dividends from students and their parents.

Will our current financial situation be a crisis or an opportunity? That depends on the outcome of the tug-of-war between Dunleavy and the Legislature. It will also depend on input from the thousands of people who voted for the governor. Voters spoke clearly when they elected Dunleavy. They voted for a balanced budget, crime reform and the traditional PFD with PFD restoration. They, including educators, anticipated budget cuts to education when they voted for the governor because they know there are creative solutions to improve educational outcomes that do not include just spending more money.

[Opinion: We need more money for schools, not less]

The governor knows that despite the doom and gloom scenarios painted by some education administrators and teachers, classrooms do not have to be negatively impacted by the proposed budget reductions. Simple education reform, consolidation of schools and school districts and the elimination of inefficiency and waste are the places to start.

Less spending on travel and the “latest and greatest” curriculum and technology would also net additional savings. With creativity and problem solving, individual school districts can do amazing things with the money they have. It’s time for them to face the reality that just spending more money is not improving education for our children.

It’s time for Alaskans to get involved. Dunleavy and legislators are taking suggestions right now. Do you have a field of interest where you see potential cost savings? Would you be willing to make cost-saving suggestions to Dunleavy so money is available for what Alaskans really need instead of what some want?

Alaska’s ability to solve these fiscal problems is greatly enhanced by the willingness of its citizens to get involved in cost-saving measures. I hope you will participate.


• Carol Carman is a lifelong Alaskan whose parents homesteaded in Wasilla, retired teacher of 25 years, and currently serves as the chair of Republican Party District 9. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

(City and Borough of Juneau photo)
My Turn: Property tax assessment and guardrails

The “money grab” by the CBJ Assessor’s Office is over with passage… Continue reading

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

“To the parents of the children of Alaska, know we will fight,”… Continue reading

Moving boxes in the Thunder Mountain High School library. (Photo provided by Jenny Thomas)
My Turn: School district should reevaluate hidden costs, rethink consolidation

Imagine that our school district was not being dismantled by a superintendent… Continue reading

Kurt Vonnegut in 1965. (Photo from U.S. Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division)
My Turn: Kurt Vonnegut and the business of educating our children

Yesterday, I was looking over the usual Facebook stuff to see what… Continue reading

The Delong Mountain Transportation System port, which delivers zinc from the Red Dog mine. (Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority photo)
My Turn: The state’s economic development agency may be reined in

While the complexion of the next Legislature may be different, indications seem… Continue reading

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Deena Bishop and Gov. Mike Dunleavy discuss his veto of an education bill during a press conference March 15 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: On inflation aid for schools, Dunleavy is still kicking the can

Not quite a year ago, Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed more than $87… Continue reading

Cruise ship passengers walk around in downtown Juneau in late May of 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Rejecting the cruise ban is essential for keeping Juneau a viable place to live

Another bad policy is being floated as a softer, gentler version of… Continue reading

Most Read