The crowd included parents, students, teachers and community members, as well as a handful of state lawmakers.
Juneau Douglas High School Senior Tori Talley talked about growing up in a low income, single parent home, before being adopted in the sixth grade. Through it all, she said, school was one of the few places she felt safe. She said teachers bought her school supplies, and school meal programs and counseling services kept her on track to graduate later this year.
“All the teachers knew exactly what my situation was,” Talley said. “And they always would stop me in the middle of class and they’d sit with me and talk to me if I needed it. And they were still there for me. So I’ve always had an extremely supportive, caring and motivational support group.”
Talley drew loud cheers when she said she plans to go to college to study psychology.
Other speakers argued for an increase in state spending on education, and against a proposed amendment to Alaska’s constitution that would allow public funds to be spent on private and religious schools.
With two months left in the legislative session, Anchorage Senator Berta Gardner, a Democrat, said opponents feel confident the amendment won’t make it through.
“We believe that they don’t have the votes to move that forward,” said Gardner to loud cheers. But, she continued: “They haven’t started knocking heads together, twisting arms, making threats, all kinds of things, and we have to keep the pressure up. We’re ahead of the game. The public is absolutely with us. And we will not back down.”
Amendment supporters say it’s needed to provide parents and students more school choice.
Anchorage Democratic Rep. Harriet Drummond and the Great Alaska Schools coalition organized the rally.
Due to a lengthy floor session, many House members missed the event. Nearly all of the state senators in attendance were Democrats. The only Republican there was Soldotna Senator Peter Micciche, who’s considered a key vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.
Watch the coverage of the rally from Gavel Alaska:
- The pilot has not been identified. The Coast Guard says initial reports are that the pilot is responsive, but has chest pains.
- Sealaska just released its 2015 annual report, which illustrates its financial ups and downs. They affect more than 22,000 shareholders, who receive dividends twice a year.
- Juneau Bar Association asks Gov. Walker to consider geographic diversity before making his selection.
- Many of Alaska’s rural schools are not working. Low student performance and high teacher turnover are just two of more obvious indicators of problems in these mostly Native school districts. Those working in the schools say it’s time for radical changes.