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DALL·E 2024-04-19 02.04.26 – A realistic image of a black woman with natural hair, wearing professional attire, holding a microphone and speaking confidently. She is standing in f

Letter: Stop playing politics with schools

Original Publication: Published in the Anchorage Daily on April 16, 2024
Author: Roz’lyn Grady-Wyche, Alaska Education Chair, NAACP State Area Conference

As a mom, educator, Anchorage resident and the Alaska Education Chair for the NAACP Alaska, Oregon and Washington State Area Conference, I am fed up with the dysfunction, misinformation and apathy stemming from detractors of public education in the Legislature and the governor’s office. There is clearly a coordinated effort to slice and dice data in a way to undermine significant legislative progress to inflation-adjust education funding. From intentionally and intellectually disingenuous reports from the Alaska Policy Forum to the erroneous Rutgers study on education funding adequacy, attempts to artificially hinder momentum and muddy the water have not gone unnoticed.

Unfortunately, lawmakers pushing back on increasing education funding for Alaska’s students under the premise of “accountability,” see no irony in not holding themselves to the same standard. A 66% pay raise and a 25% increase to the legislative and governor budget line item since 2017 despite a lack of meaningful progress on most items Alaskans actually care about is unacceptable and undeserved. It is time for new leadership. To lawmakers who went back on their word and voted to sustain the veto on SB 140, does it not trouble you that your constituents are actively planning for a future which doesn’t involve you in a position of power? Since 2017, we have seen massive increases to our Department of Public Safety budget and our Department of Corrections budget — but education has remained flat-funded in statute, even with record inflation. Alaska’s 130,000 students in 50-plus school districts deserve true leadership and a change in narrative. I know they will have it after the election this November.

With what time remains in this session, I hope leaders prioritize supporting all students and avoid politics and hollow talking points. Don’t break what isn’t broken, focus on improving legislative outcomes, and do not attempt to remove local control from parents across our state. We are actively monitoring and evaluating your actions. Do better.

— Roz’lyn Grady-Wyche

Alaska Education Chair, NAACP State Area Conference