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Meet the candidate: Judy Eledge

Judy Eledge is running for a seat on the school board in this year's municipal election.
Judy Eledge is running for a seat on the school board in this year's municipal election.(Courtesy Judy Eledge's campaign team)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 2:50 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Judy Norton Eledge is running for a seat on the school board. Alaska’s News Source asked her to answer some questions about her campaign. Here’s what she said.

What school board seat are you running for?

SCHOOL BOARD SEAT B

Can you give me a short description of yourself?

I have over 40 years of educational experience in both ASD and rural Alaska. I have been a teacher, principal, curriculum director, state coach and currently do private educational consulting, mainly in the area of reading. Since my retirement I have worked in low performing districts in AK, often sleeping in a classroom. I have the most diverse educational background than any person currently running or serving on ASD Board.

Why are you running for school board?

I decided to run for school board because of my concerns about what is happening in our schools. This past year has been devastating for many in our community. Many students, parents and teachers are frustrated about the complete lockdown of our schools to in-class learning, and feel their voices were not heard or considered. Many others, as I, are concerned about the low academic achievement for many of our students. Many in our community are concerned that our children are being taught values their families do not share, whether it be curriculum or mandates from the federal government. I want to be the voice for all of those frustrated students, parents and teachers.

What will be your focus on the school board?

Raising the academic standards of all students within a reasonable budget. Ensuring strong parental involvement in all decision made by the ASD. Ensuring decisions are made in the best interest of students, not that of special interest groups.

Do you think students should be back in school, learning virtually, or a hybrid?

There is absolutely no reason ALL students should not be back in school learning. They should have been months ago. I do not object, however, if some virtual learning happens based on circumstances. It should not be longterm.

The research is very clear the spread of the virus is minimal among teachers and students, and if students have to wear masks to return all students to school then I do not object to them wearing masks. This should not be longterm either.

It has been a disgrace students in ASD have not been back in school when all private schools have, along with Mat Su School District and other districts in Alaska.

Should students in school be wearing masks?

The research is very clear the spread of the virus is minimal among teachers and students, but if that is the only way to keep kids to in-school learning then I do not object to them wearing masks.

Do you think children were left behind this school year? How can they get back to grade level?

I would say all students were left behind this year with an inconsistent virtual learning from school to school and from teacher to teacher. In 2019 nearly 60% of 4th graders could not read at grade level. Math scores were also very low. Can you imagine where those students are today? The district will be receiving over 60 million dollars for COVID relief in the next couple of months. That money should be, in its entirety, used to ensure children are brought up to grade level. Tutors should be immediately hired and after school tutoring available. An intensive summer school should be offered all summer. Those summer schools should be offered in various locations and if not busing should be offered. If current classroom teachers do not want to teach summer school, then put out a request for retired teachers and even instructional aides to do so. I am sure with that amount of money good teachers will volunteer. Sorry to say many students may never recover and this is the travesty of our decision making.

How do you plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic in schools?

I would not have shut down the schools to in-person learning after the end of last year. There was and still is a huge inconsistency of instruction between schools and even teachers within a school. The district should require all principals and district leadership to meet and ensure a more consistent plan district-wide.

Many other states and even private schools in our city have had in-person learning since the beginning of the year. Schools in the Mat Su Valley have also been opened. Perhaps the Anchorage School District should consult them on how they have done so.

What’s the largest non-pandemic issue facing the district and what do you intend to do about it?

Absolutely, the low achievement of many of our students. As mentioned above 60% of students in 4th grade cannot read at grade level. The math scores are also dismal. When I began working for the Anchorage School District in 1981, we were second in the nation in academic achievement. We are now near the bottom. I will work consistently to ensure that achievement is improved. We must focus our efforts on high expectations of ALL students. We do that by not trying to be everything to everyone. Our school system seems to be more worried about social trends than academic achievement. Teachers are overwhelmed with all the policies, curriculum and special interest groups affecting their classrooms daily. When a system begins teaching values that differ from those of the families of their students those families become frustrated and no longer trust the system. We must gain back that trust with open transparency when making decisions.

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