House minority unhappy with lack of progress on education, workforce issues

Students need a range of skills to succeed beyond high school. Some legislators and members of the House minority say they’re not getting them.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 6:22 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Members of the Alaska House minority coalition said during a press conference Tuesday that they are unsatisfied by the lack of progress the Alaska Legislature has made this session to address workforce issues and education funding.

The recent dramatic transformation in the world of work and education sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic failed to stymie the state’s acute, rising need for workers amidst ongoing population outmigration.

“We know that investing in education is an investment in Alaska’s workforce for the future and that pre-K to postsecondary pipeline is absolutely critical for working families,” Fairbanks Rep. Ashley Carrick said. “It’s absolutely critical to retain folks like myself. I’m thirty years old this year. I have watched many of my peers leave Alaska for a lack of opportunity.”

Rep. Alyse Galvin of Anchorage began the press conference by sharing her recent experience with an educator from her district.

“I was meeting with constituents this past weekend and one longtime member of the schools there said that working in the schools these days has made her feel like a character from ‘The Last of Us,’” Galvin said. “If you haven’t seen that, I’ll just give you another image. Essentially she said to me — because I needed her to kind of give me more on that — and she said, ‘It’s like I’m a survivor of the zombie apocalypse.’”

Carrick recommended revising how some aspects of the education budget are calculated.

“We absolutely have to invest in education through an increase in the Base Student Allocation,” Carrick said. “We also have to see this as a holistic picture. When we invest in our K-12 education system, we are also investing in Alaska’s workforce for tomorrow.”

Speaker of the House Rep. Cathy Tilton of Wasilla forecasted the upcoming release of legislation from Gov. Mike Dunleavy as a potential game-changer for present feelings of cynicism.

“I know that the governor is putting out an education package which might change some of the conversation around education,” Tilton said. “We are working on you know, just good governance, and moving through a process where we are bringing respect back to the institution.”