A crowd of teachers, students, and parents gathered in front of the Capitol steps on Tuesday to speak out for increased funding of education.
For many at the rally, the questions of lowering taxes on oil companies and adjusting education funding were inextricably twined.
Kindergarten teacher Kayla Harmon waved a sign saying as much.
“It says ‘Big breaks for big oil? How about a little more for little Alaskans?'”
The per-student funding amount has been held at the same level for three years now. And across Alaska, school districts are considering budget cuts.
Anchorage has a shortfall of $25 million, while Juneau is facing a nearly $2 million gap.
Protestors like Harmon expressed concern that state funding for education will stay stagnant at the same time that the legislature is advancing an oil tax overhaul that would cut state revenue by $800 million next year.
“We talk a lot about our natural resources, and we really have to think long and hard that kids are our future. If we want these jobs to stay inside our state, we need to educate our students to be prepared for those jobs.”
Nearly a dozen Democratic legislators spoke at the rally, passing a bullhorn between them. They’ve introduced a bill that would tie the base student allocation to inflation, but it hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing.
Since the beginning of the legislative session, Republicans in the majority have said they’re working on their own fix for education funding, but have been tight-lipped on details.
- August 31, 2015- Litter, fistfights, intoxicated loiterers, open container violations and sundry calls for emergency services are common at the pocket park in the shadow of the Gastineau Apartments.
- August 31, 2015- "I feel pretty strongly that the way to look at this topic is through science, and I just find it super disappointing that so many people chose to ignore or dismiss solid science," said one protestor.
- August 31, 2015- “I’ve arrived in Alaska a lot of ways and I’ve gotta say that was the most enjoyable," Walker said. "It was really fun, a good experience, a good opportunity for me to have some very meaningful discussions with the president.”
- August 31, 2015- President Barack Obama says submerged countries, abandoned cities and floods of refugees await the world unless it takes urgent action on climate change.