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Don’t Miss Alaska Policy Forum’s Important School-Choice Event With Brian Calle Tonight!

APF1Want to know how to get your child into a better school? You need to hear how Brian Calle did it. His mother gamed the zip code to get her child into a better neighborhood school.

What would you do to get the best education for your child or grandchild? You shouldn’t have to do this. You should have the civil right to get your child into the school of your choice. How about freedom? You can choose your latte, why not your child’s school?

Brian Calle is the Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register, and Editor-in-Chief at www.calwatchdog.com – Brian also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute; Unruh Fellow at the Jesse Unruh Institute at the University of Southern California; a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute; an adjunct professor at California State University-Fullerton; and a member emeritus of the Board of Governors for the University of Southern California.

THE EVENT WILL BE HELD ON JANUARY 14TH/6:30 AT THE EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL, 600 E. BENSON, Anchorage.

For more information, contact the Alaska Policy Forum at 907-334-5853 or visit their website at www.alaskapolicyforum.org

Watchdog: NYC Mayor’s Race Could Affect School Choice

Photo Credit: ijreviewNew York City’s public charter schools are at stake in November’s mayoral election.

While Democrat candidate Bill de Blasio says he will charge rent to the 108 charter schools running in Department of Education-owned buildings — which charter school proponents and operators say would be devastating — Republican candidate Joe Lhota plans to double the number of charter schools and allow them to continue running rent-free.

Neither campaign returned repeated calls for comment.

New York City’s 183 charter schools, which accept students based on a lottery drawing, serve 70,000 students.

Read more from this story HERE.

It’s Time to Stand Up for Alaska’s Children

On February 25 beginning at 9:30 a.m., the Alaska House Education Committee will hear testimony on HJR 1, an act to amend the Alaska Constitution to allow public funds to flow to parents so they can choose the best educational fit for their children. It is important to note that this resolution only amends the Constitution, it does not provide for “vouchers” as stated by the opposition.

The Alaska Constitution has Blaine Amendment language in it which prohibits any state funds from directly supporting religious or other private educational institutions. This wording was required by the Federal government if a territory wanted to join the Union-kind of an overreach by the Federal government. That is why, most Western states have this prohibitive language in their constitutions.

The history of the Blaine Amendment, however, is somewhat sordid and ugly. Congressman Blaine gathered support from the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic and anti-Irish segments of society. Later on, even the KKK supported the Blaine Amendment in many states. This wording should be removed because it is a very bad reflection on Alaskans.

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that even indirect support of private or religious educational institutions is prohibited (Sheldon Jackson College v. State of Alaska, 1979). This would seem to prohibit local school districts from transporting students to/from non-public schools, even if by coincidence.
You have your chance to voice your opinion on February 25. You need to go to the Legislative Information Office (LIO) or call in for testimony. You can google “state of alaska lio” to find where the nearest LIO is located. If inconvenient, just email your legislator with your beliefs. If you have any questions, go to www.akchoice.org for more information or email Tom Fink at [email protected] Testimony will also be taken on March 1 at 9:30.

It’s time to take a stand for our kids – your voice needs to be heard. The Alaska State Legislature must allow us to vote on whether or not, we the people want to amend OUR Constitution. Allow us to vote-it is our right as stated in OUR Constitution.

Democrat for Education Reform Coming to Alaska

The Alaska Policy Forum is hosting school choice events in Anchorage and Soldotna. The speaker will be Kevin Chavous, Board Chair of Democrats for Education Reform, Board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and Board member of the American Federation for Children. Mr. Chavous led the charge in Washington, D.C. for charter schools and the D. C school voucher program.

Most recently, he worked with Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, to get school voucher legislation enacted this past year. Yes, school choice is non-partisan because it’s about the kids, not the adults. Chavous will speak on how choice benefits everyone, regardless of socioeconomic standing. Even the public school system benefits from competition.

Come hear Mr. Chavous in Soldotna on February 12th at the Soldotna Sports Center beginning at 7 pm. He will be speaking in Anchorage on February 14th at the Anchorage Museum at 7 pm. both events are free. Come cut through the chaff and noise the NEA is broadcasting across Alaska. Chavous will also appear at a joint House/Senate Judiciary, Finance, Education meeting on February 13th at 1:30. Go to akl.tv to listen on-line.

Visit Alaska Policy Forum HERE.

School Choice and NEA Opposition

Word on the street is that the NEA is desperately stalking the halls of the capitol in Juneau trying to keep a lid on the movement to bring school choice to Alaska. And they have quite a lobbyist on the payroll.

According to State of Alaska public disclosures, Alaska NEA lobbyist John Alcantra makes $57.83 per hour. Assuming a 40 hour work week, that’s more than $120,000 annually. If his listed wage does not include health benefits and retirement, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the total cost for Alcantra tops $150,000 a year. Solidarity, indeed.

But Alcantra and his posse have a reason to be rattled. School choice is an issue that has commanded bipartisan support in other states as well. Study after study shows the benefits of school choice for all the kids, including those from lower income families and ethnic minority groups.

Two separate polls conducted (Braun Research and Dittman Research) show a healthy majority of support for school choice among Alaskans. While Alaska’s education performance continues to lag behind other states, the Senate majority coalition being used by Progressives in the legislature to obstruct good legislation was defeated in the last election cycle.

If you haven’t called your State Representative or Senator to voice your opinion on school choice, be sure to do it. According to reports from Juneau, the Republican caucus will be discussing education in the near future.

There are a number of obstructionists inside of the Majority caucus who will make it their goal to characterize this issue as divisive and toxic. Some are genuinely more concerned with losing a reelection bid than obstructing public policy that is good for Alaska. Others are simply ideologues.

Given the nature of the caucus, and with Mr. Alcantra roaming the halls of Juneau, your help is needed to get this legislation moving. If you would like to see school choice become a reality in Alaska, call or email your representative and senator.

The Case for Educational Pluralism: Alternatives to the State-funded Educational Monopoly

Public education means different things in different countries. In the United States, it means government-funded and government-delivered schooling—schooling that is supposedly ideologically neutral but in fact reflects a progressive tradition strongly committed to beliefs and to an educational philosophy rejected by many Americans. Not surprisingly, we now fight a great deal about public education. Other democracies fight about education, too, but less divisively, because for them, “public education” means educational pluralism: government support for diverse institutions that reflect a wide variety of beliefs and commitments.

One hundred and fifty years ago, America’s elites, faced with waves of (mostly Catholic, ethnic, and poor) immigrants, concluded that only state-enforced uniformity could effectively make one people out of many. Once bitterly contested on grounds of religious liberty, this belief in the uniform common school, and its ability to create citizens out of disparate groups, is now so embedded in our consciousness that we cannot imagine public education otherwise.

Because the secularist view has dominated American public education since the mid-twentieth century, many Americans reflexively confuse “secularity” with “neutrality.” Some religious groups have responded by creating parallel educational institutions.

Other liberal democracies took a different view. Beginning in the nineteenth century, most Western countries established centralized standards and funding that supported a variety of institutions with diverse philosophies of education, religious and cultural commitments, and student populations. Today, the Netherlands supports more than thirty types of schools on equal footing, and in England over 60 percent of Jewish children attend Jewish day school at state expense. Nearly a quarter of Italy’s schools are fully supported nonstate schools. Israel’s state schools are religious or secular, Hebrew- or Arabic-language, and the government funds from 55 to 75 percent of the costs of almost all nonstate schools. Educational diversity is increasing exponentially in places such as Australia and Sweden, and India is introducing vouchers in some of its provinces.

What binds the diverse groups and their schools together in most cases is commitment to a national (or regional) curriculum and assessments, so that children in quite different classrooms engage in a common civic and academic project. These curricula tend to prescribe general rather than specific goals (such as demonstrating knowledge of a particular genre of English literature rather than studying particular sonnets) and are often negotiated between national and local governments.

Recent American educational innovation—charter schools, vouchers, cyber-education, Teach for America—are encouraging educational diversity, but they can only go so far. Lasting, structural change requires reframing “public education” to mean publicly funded or publicly supported, not exclusively publicly delivered, education. This in turn requires a different political philosophy, a turn to a model of education based on civil society rather than state control.

It is important to note that educational pluralism is not a proxy for religious education, although it does embrace religious as well as secular, philosophical, and pedagogical variety. Nor is it tantamount to “privatizing education.” Rather, it affirms both the dignity of diverse commitments and society’s interest in the nurture of the next generation.

Educational pluralism would certainly not solve all of America’s educational troubles, and it would generate concerns of its own. However, it offers an honest acknowledgement of the myriad value judgments inherent in any education and generously accommodates a variety of beliefs and opinions in a way more congruous with the United States’ democratic political philosophy than does the current system. While some people fear that such pluralism would produce division and harm the students educationally, evidence suggests that, in fact, pluralism often yields superior civic and academic results.

Read more from this article HERE.