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Alaskans Show ‘Overwhelming Support’ for Public Schools, Say Education Organizations After Survey

Pencil sharpener, pencil, and pencil shavings, on top of open, blank notebook

Survey results released Wednesday say Alaskans rank investment in K-12 public schools as a top priority for the state.

According to the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), and the Coalition for Education Equity of Alaska (CEE), over 400 Alaskans took part in the survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics.

In a joint news conference Wednesday morning, AASB President Patrick Mayer broke down survey results, including that Alaskans expressed “overwhelming support” for the public school system.

“Alaskans are invested in insuring the success of students and support investment in our public schools. Investment in K-12 public schools ranked the highest as (a) top priority for how we spend our public dollars.”

44% of those surveyed responded they’d like to see funding K-12 public schools as the highest priority in the state budget. The next highest rankings were public health and human services at 27%, and 15% for public safety, corrections, and law enforcement. 5% thought higher education should be the top priority.

Also, according to the survey, 73% of participants supported state-funded public preschool. And a 79% majority supported a well-rounded public education, including areas like art and music, all-day kindergarten, and physical education, rather than focusing only on a core curriculum (math, English, science, and social studies).

The sampling also showed a majority of Alaskans, 72% of those surveyed, support elected officials who support increased funding for K-12 education.

“The survey data clearly shows that Alaskans value public schools and want to see them supported and improved.”

According to the AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten, the survey groups (AASB, ACSA, and CEE) have a “vision” for the Alaska school system. They plan on working collaboratively with each other, the state, and communities, toward six key “priorities.” The list includes a long-term fiscal plan with sustainable education funding, sufficient access to broadband and school facilities maintenance, and programs to attract and retain “quality educators.”

On behalf of the three groups, Wooten offered a promise to Alaskans:

“Rural and urban Alaskans alike told us that public schools play a central role in each of their communities and they want to see a state budget that reflects their values. Well, folks, we’ve heard you loud and clear, and we’ll be carrying your message to legislators and providing them with whatever assistance and information they may need to craft a budget that will provide schools with sufficient, sustainable funding, and reflects the true cost of providing a quality education.”

The survey followed up on the February 13 release of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposed state budget, which includes significant cuts to K-12 education.

Image at top: public domain.