Winter Marshall-Allen

Point of View: Les Gara for governor, for Alaska’s children, and our public education system

Les Gara has already displayed his commitment to Alaska’s youth during his time in the state Legislature.

Winter Marshall-Allen

Residing in a pristine resource-rich state, such as Alaska, is a blessing. Developing these resources in a culturally responsive and responsible manner is of utmost importance as we look to the future. Our youth are one of those precious resources, and I am honored to be a 15-year educator currently with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District teaching our next generation of leaders. It is necessary for us, the adults and electorate, to ensure this precious resource is not overlooked. One way to ensure the development of the next generation is by electing Les Gara as the next governor of our great state of Alaska.

Les Gara has already displayed his commitment to Alaska’s youth during his time in the state Legislature. He not only moved beyond conversations, but put his words into action via policy. The most recent funding increase for Alaska’s public education came in a bill passed by the State House in 2018. Through the hard work to reach a compromise, which was spearheaded by Les Gara, this bill made way for negotiation of a two-year budget increase, allowing Alaska’s schools to keep up with inflation in 2019 and 2020.

A study published in 2020 (Schochet et al., 2020) reaffirmed prior published evidence validating exposure to publicly funded early childhood education, such as voluntary pre-kindergarten programs, providing students a solid foundation for school readiness and narrowing achievement gaps. Les Gara has strongly advocated, alongside educators, for smaller class sizes and a voluntary pre-K program throughout our state. These actions only begin to demonstrate his dedication to Alaska’s children and their education in our public schools.

Beyond being a strong voice for public education, Les has also been an unwavering advocate for youth in the foster care system. He understands firsthand the impact of providing a positive, healthy environment in which children can grow and thrive. Having experienced the foster care system as a child, Les Gara knows that the benefits of supporting students outside the classroom go a long way in ensuring the desired outcomes in the classroom and community. During his tenure in the Alaska State House from 2003 to 2019, Les worked faithfully to see that our children had the best start to a successful life that will benefit them and Alaska as a whole.

What can we say about our current administration? As a state senator, Gov. Mike Dunleavy pushed for severe cuts in public education funding every year, which necessitated the House blocking those cuts. Dunleavy’s first budget proposed a cut of more than $269,000 in funds for public education (Brehmer, 2019). How do actions like this demonstrate past and current leadership’s desire to develop our children and their education?

Alaska needs a governor who will act in the best interests of our children, who are the next generation of leaders and voters. We deserve a governor who will promote the education of our children and who will help ensure Alaska graduates students who are CTE, college, career, and life ready. These children are the future leaders of our state. Their academic, career and social-emotional development needs to be a priority now when they are young, so when these students become adults, our youth will be able to and want to continue to make Alaska an amazing place to live, work and play. Alaska’s children need Les Gara as the next governor.

Winter Marshall-Allen is a special education instructor at Homer High School and owner and co-founder of H.O.M.E.R. Organization for More Equitable Relations: Education, Wellness & Advocacy.

More in Opinion

Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Voices of the Peninsula: A vote for Walker/Drygas is a vote for Alaskans

It’s easy to forget some of the many lost lawsuits, devastating budget cuts and general incompetence that defines Mike Dunleavy’s term as governor

This photo shows a return envelop for 2022 special primary. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Voices of the Peninsula: Learn how to access your ballot

The recent special primary election was the first time the state conducted an all mail-in ballot election

The Storyknife Writers Retreat in the summer of 2021 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Storyknife: Invest in women writers, read the rewards

Storyknife is committed to providing opportunities to a diversity of writers

Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: No more delays — finalize protections for Bristol Bay

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

Peter Asmus (Photo provided)
Why Alaska is leading the nation on energy innovation

Alaska is a unique vantage point upon which to review the world’s current energy conundrum

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: On Alaska’s gasline, you can’t schedule opportunity

Alaska has the largest source of stranded conventional gas (no drilling required) in North America

Charlie Pierce stands in his home on Thursday, March 11, 2022, in Sterling, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: When politics get dirty

So, let me step out front and dispel the already debunked false narratives …

Most Read