Better planning should go into education funding

To the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of Alaska:

I have observed the invited testimony of the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 3 and would like to share some observations and concerns regarding that meeting and the Senate Joint Resolution 9 which was under discussion.

My first concern was that no one with alternative points of view was invited. I sincerely hope that as you acquire information you explore both sides of the issues to be sure you are making an informed decision rather than a preformed decision.

Another concern was that prior to spending public monies you have a workable end goal and a protocol for exit effectiveness. If you are offering money to an entity to educate children, how are you breaking down your goals and measuring effectiveness?

It is difficult to consider what is expected without common standards that involve thoughtful planning backed up with appropriate data. It is not clear what Senator Dunleavy meant when he said (paraphrased) everyone should have their own standards in utilizing the public monies for education. We use goal setting and evaluation processes with every other aspect of our planning for state activities, roads, construction, etc. Why should State standards for the education of our children not be planned with goals and exit criteria for all those who utilize public allotments, (i.e. vouchers) that affect our most precious assets, our children?

Following this thought it has been my observation that the plan to draw public allotments (vouchers) has been carefully developed and choreographed with backup plans of various types (changing the State Constitution, bringing the issue to the voters, etc.). The actual plan to spend the funds extracted from the educational budget of the public schools is amorphous: no goals, no criteria, no evaluation.

In addition the Governor mentioned the use of white boards as a wonderful opportunity for many of our children. With the cuts in personnel, who are the people who will form the goals and objectives to make these experiences a truly educational one?

It is clear that the individuals in our legislature have carefully planned their goals for this session. They are clearly choreographed to produce certain outcomes. Since this is a body that has sworn to provide for the common good of the people in the State of Alaska, why are the State’s children offered such a poorly planned and implemented education?

As a mother, grandmother, educator and speech language pathologist, I would certainly hope for a better planned educational program for the children of the State of Alaska.