Court Rules in State's Favor
in Education Case
Additional State Oversight
of School Districts Required
June 21, 2007
Alaska has "fully met its constitutional obligation to adequately
fund education," Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason
ruled today in the case of Moore vs. Alaska.
"We are very pleased that the court has reaffirmed that
the state supplies adequate funding for education," said
Alaska Attorney General Talis J. Colberg.
The plaintiffs, which included NEA-Alaska and several school
districts and parents sued the state, asking the court to order
significantly more state funding for Alaska schools - seeking
to double Alaska's education budget. They also asked the court
to impose educational programs such as the arts and languages,
and order a study to determine adequate funding in the future.
Instead, Judge Gleason left decisions about the state's education
funding formula to the Legislature, and said the court would
not determine educational programs.
Judge Gleason said the evidence shows that Alaska has "thorough
and appropriate" educational standards and a "finely
tuned" method of testing children. Gleason said, "In
many respects EED (the Alaska Department of Education & Early
Development) has done a truly commendable job in improving education
for Alaska's children."
But the state must be more aggressive in overseeing troubled
school districts, the judge ruled, citing the Yupiit School District,
one of the plaintiffs, in particular. In those schools, the
court also found that students haven't had sufficient opportunity
to prepare for the high school exit exam. The court stayed the
order for one year pending the state's efforts to increase its
oversight of, and assistance to, Yupiit and any other districts
in the same situation.
The Department of Education & Early Development has worked
extensively in the Yupiit School District since 2005. The department
sent a team of experts to the district to redesign the curriculum,
provide instructional tools and train staff, and has closely
monitored the district's compliance with the improvement plan
drafted by the experts.
"We believe that our effort in Yupiit was significant and
consistent with our policy of local control of education. However,
with the judge's order, we will review with renewed vigor our
efforts to assist the Yupiit School District and other low-performing
districts so that all children in Alaska have the opportunity
for a quality standards-based education,°® said Education
Commissioner Roger Sampson. "That has been the mission
of the State Board of Education & Early Development and we
have developed an extensive accountability system and numerous
services to achieve that."
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