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### Dunleavy Lacks Credibility in School Decision-Making

By Tina DeLapp

Updated: 21 seconds ago Published: 5 minutes ago


(iStock / Getty Images)

Why would anyone heed Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statements regarding education, education funding, and the importance of a defined-benefit pension program as an enticement for potential teachers and other public employees in Alaska? When it comes to his opposition to the defined-benefit retirement proposal, why is he reluctant to offer other state employees a pension alternative akin to, albeit less generous than, the retirement plan he will ultimately benefit from as a Tier I retiree?

Despite Mike Dunleavy’s self-promotion as a seasoned educator and educational leader, his experience as an elementary school teacher was relatively brief before swiftly advancing to higher administrative roles, where his authoritative management approach became evident. His tenure as superintendent of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, though brief, concluded quietly after negotiating a lucrative contract shortly before his resignation. His request for additional funds, citing extensive after-hours work on superintendent duties, raised eyebrows. It is uncommon for educational administrators to confine their responsibilities to a 40-hour workweek. A 2018 Anchorage Press commentary highlighted a teacher retention crisis during his leadership:

Governor Dunleavy’s time in office has been detrimental to public education, marked by widely publicized and severe budget cuts. Journalist Dermot Cole pointed out in June 2023 that 85% of his recent vetoes targeted education services and projects. His resistance to raising the Base Student Allocation, crucial for not just teacher salaries but also school operational expenses like utilities and maintenance, raises concerns. Does Gov. Dunleavy fail to grasp that teacher incentives alone cannot guarantee well-equipped, well-maintained school facilities? Instead of addressing core issues, he advocates for teacher bonuses as a retention tactic and proposes expanding charter schools under increased state oversight.

Moreover, he endorses the expansion of homeschooling without mechanisms to assess curriculum quality, teacher qualifications, or educational outcomes, requirements he imposes on the public education system. Is he unaware that charter schools deliberately maintain limited enrollments and lower student-teacher ratios compared to traditional schools? Does he overlook the pivotal role of community engagement in charter school success, making enrollment unattainable for many low-income families?

It is my earnest wish that the Legislature challenges Gov. Dunleavy’s assertions on public education in Alaska. His track record indicates a lack of authority on effective educational strategies.

Tina DeLapp, EdD, RN, FAAN, a mother of two ASD graduates who attended adequately funded Anchorage schools, expresses these views.

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