A State at Risk: The Need for Education Reform in Alaska

Read the latest report on the state of education in Alaska from the Alaska Policy Forum.

In 1983, US Secretary of Education T.H. Bell released a report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform, which stated the following:

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”

And here we stand today, very little has changed; as a matter of fact, things have gotten worse. This quote applies very much to the State of Alaska. Alaska and its children are at risk if our education system does not improve dramatically.

Here are the facts:

  • Alaska contributes more state and local dollars to K-12 education than other state on a per capita basis ($3,260)
  • Alaska’s upper & middle income 4th graders are dead last in reading (NAEP 2011)
  • Alaska’s low income students tie for last with District of Columbia in 4th grade reading (NAEP 2011)

In summary, all Alaskan children are doing poorly compared to the other States. More money funneled into the current system is not the answer. We need more options for all children, not just those who are fortunate to win a lottery or those who can afford private education. Our lower socioeconomic children are paying the price; however, those who are lucky enough to have better options will have to “carry” the less fortunate and make up for our public education shortcomings. Education Research Fellow Bob Griffin has written a report which details, with charts, the state of education in Alaska.