SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Once Again, People of Alaska Targeted
By Congressman Don Young


July 21, 2007

Once again, the people of the State of Alaska are being targeted. They are being told that they are not worth the investment of the federal government. They are being told that the education of their children is not important to Congress. When will these attacks stop?

The Garret amendment would have eliminated all funds for the Alaska Native Education Equity Act which provides broadly distributed funds to entities in Alaska that have the ability to help Alaska Native students succeed. Funding has gone towards professional development for educators, Even Start programs and Head Start programs, family literacy services, and dropout prevention programs. Without this type of funding, thousands of Alaska Native students will be left behind their counterparts in the Lower 48.

The Alaska Native Education Equity Act is an authorized program already vetted by the appropriate authorizing Committees and signed into law in 1998. This program was enacted to make up for the fact that no Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) education funds go to Alaska because it does not have BIA schools in the state. These funds are necessary to help raise educational standards for Alaska Natives whose overall education performance has been lagging behind the achievement of students in the lower 48. And the programs are starting to make a difference. Alaska Native student success has increased and their dropout rates have declined over the last decade. Eliminating these funds would be devastating to these students. As the sole representative for Alaska, it is my responsibility to stand up for "my Alaskans" and the funding they are entitled to. I use the term "my" because we Alaskans stick together. An attack on one Alaskan is an attack on us all.

And I would like to point out that 351 of my colleagues joined me in opposing this biased amendment. They saw it for what it was - an attack on a small state's minority population that needs Congress' help.

This is the year 2007. We need to stop treating this minority group as second class citizens. They have been ignored for far too long and funding this program is part of our responsibility to ensure that all American children have the opportunity to succeed. I have and will continue to fight for "my Alaskans" and against those who continue to go after us.

Received July 20, 2007 - Published July 21, 2007

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Ketchikan, Alaska