Education summit produces
goals for Alaska
November 24, 2008
The Alaska Statewide Education Summit concluded November 14 in
Anchorage with a list of goals, vision and mission statements,
and list of outcomes for graduates that will form the basis for
the first education plan in Alaska's history.
"Now we have the start of a beginning that will be meaningful
and will change the lives of Alaska students," said Alaska
Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux, who convened the summit.
"Our students will lead Alaska. The next 50 years will be
led by the students who are in our schools today. Our guidance
will make sure they are ready. I believe we have the resources
and expertise that will help every child become successful. If
we do everything right and have a clear focus, we can achieve
our goal. But we must work together."
The summit, dubbed "Building Alaska's Future One Student
at a Time," was sponsored by the Alaska Department of Education
& Early Development with support from the University of Alaska
and the nonprofit organization America's Promise Alliance.
Nearly 450 Alaskans from all walks of life convened at the Dena'ina
Civic & Convention Center on November 13 and 14 to discuss
education issues that affect Alaskans from birth through postsecondary
education and the work place. Attendees included members of the
University of Alaska; educators, local and state school board
members; parents; students; businesspeople; representatives of
Native organizations and nonprofits; and legislators.
Participants met in subgroups to discuss in detail issues related
to early childhood; world-class schools and world-class students;
college-, work- and life-ready; school finance, facilities and
planning; technology; place-based education; student health and
safety; and partnerships for learning.
Attendees also heard addresses by Commissioner LeDoux and University
of Alaska President Mark Hamilton, a panel discussion among six
legislators, panels on postsecondary education and high school
graduation, and a summary of a recent survey of Alaska residents
"You've got to believe, as I do, that if a third-grader
can't read or a sixth-grader can't do math, it's my problem,"
President Hamilton said. "It's a problem for all Alaskans."
President Hamilton called on Alaskans to promote a culture that
values learning. The skills that students need to succeed in
their kindergarten to high school education are the same skills
they need in the work place or college, he said.
The next steps are for the Department of Education & Early
Development to collate the goals produced at the summit, post
them on its web site at www.eed.state.ak.us <http://www.eed.state.ak.us/>
, and call for public comment. The information will be posted
next week under an Alaska Education Plan button on the department's
The goals and comments will be presented to the State Board of
Education & Early Development and the University of Alaska
Board of Regents.
The department will convene smaller work groups after January
to flesh out details of the education plan and produce strategies
to implement the goals. The department will report annually on
its actions to implement the plan.
Among the draft goals produced at the summit are the following.
Early education: Alaska will
create a seamless education system from birth to 12th grade in
which parents have access to affordable, high-quality early child
care and education, staffed by well-trained people.
World-class schools and students: Students will be prepared to
pursue the next level of education in their chosen field and
be proficient in 21st century skills, including communication,
math, problem-solving, civic engagement, the arts, a second language,
and science and technology.
Student readiness for college, work and life: Alaskans will value
education and graduation from high school. Schools will create
partnerships that enhance student readiness, and students will
have equal access to resources and services that promote post-secondary
education, careers, and life-long learning.
Finance, facilities and planning: There will be funding equity,
a greater public understanding of the state funding system, adequate
technology and career and technical education, energy-efficient
schools, and separate funding for energy expenses.
Technology: There will be a long-term funding source for technology,
a statewide public telecommunications network, and a statewide
Place-based, or community-based, education: More teachers will
come from under-represented populations, existing state standards
for culturally responsive schools will be applied, and there
will be more community involvement in the schools.
Health and safety: There will be a system that integrates health
and wellness in the schools, promotes of a safe and secure environment
in the schools, and establishes a participation program for families,
schools and communities.
Partnerships: Students will know about greater opportunities
to interact with adults in a variety of interest areas, and there
will be more opportunities for teachers to be exposed to experiences
outside traditional academics, such as externships at businesses.
The draft mission statement
is that Alaska's education system fosters creativity, curiosity,
and embraces diversity. Alaska's students have the skills and
knowledge to contribute to their local and the global community
by understanding the past and present, and are prepared for the
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