Paul has volunteered in the schools since his children were very young.
Education should be one of the State's highest priorities. I was a member of the Legislative
Education Funding Task Force which came to consensus on how to adequately fund our schools
and equitably implement the district cost factor. We finally have adopted a forward funding
mechanism. However, we need to think about more than just money. Society has added so many
new tasks onto the schools that we need to encourage innovative solutions to make the schools
more effective and relevant to all students. My experience in education is broad based and my
keen interest is rooted in my belief that education is the key to our children's and society's future.
I will be attentive to both the funding and quality initiatives that must be addressed. I will seek
active involvement from both the educational community and constituents in these vital issues.
In 2012 to help move education forward I used almost 10% of the districts 'discretionary money'
to fund a pilot project to bring itouch technology to the classrooms. The iPod touch technology
allows rapid, inexpensive updating of curriculum and engagement of students in learning. An
example of the success of bringing almost all students to grade proficient language and math
is at the Canby Oregon website.
Go to that link to see the amazing graphs of measured performance by the various
grade and subject classes using iPods compared to the entire school district.
A Distorted Funding Formula
The Foundation Formula, the policy wherein the state pays a 'basic' allotment per student to the
individual school districts, was a 'model for the nation' when I first taught school in Fairbanks in
1969. The formula - established by the legislature - considers various 'cost' factors for education
in each school district. It is obvious that education in the bush is more costly on a per-student
basis than in urban areas.
The federal government caps the amount any school district can spend above the formula to
ensure the legally required relatively equal funding across the State. I worked to change the
formula to adequately reflect what is needed for top quality schools.
Before & Beyond K-12
Education beyond K-12 is a vital part of many communities in this District. I support the
expansion of all the branches of the Kenai Peninsula College and vocational education such as
the Alaska Vocational and Technical Center in Seward. The addition of shipboard firefighting
school to AVTEC and Kenai provides a much-needed service.
Studies have shown that pre-K preparations such as Head Start are our most truly effective long
term investment for education outcomes. I supported increases in voluntary pilot programs so we
can find the most effective models that coordinate with local institutions.
I was the instigator of the new in-person and distance education program through the University
of Alaska, Kachemak Bay Branch for pre-correction officer training program. This certificate
program was developed in conjunction with Corrections and Public Safety. Good paying jobs
are available within District 31 and this program will allow local people to develop the skills
for a successful career. The program also allows students to determine whether corrections,
court, police or a trooper job is a career in which they are truly interested, without obligating
themselves to the extensive and expensive training for a specific job.
I presented to the School Board candidates in 2001 copies of the '40-year experiment' in education, "Northern Ireland's Education Row"
, The Economist Jan. 20, 2001. England adopted our 'comprehensive' one-size-fits-all approach, and Northern Ireland had maintained a 'tracking' system. Obviously Northern Ireland includes numerous political problems and a mixed social structure. Yet all social 'classes' of students performed better in the Northern Ireland model where they learned with appropriate educational experiences. This recognizes the same learning advantages that occur in the Chugach Model
which uses the appropriate technique for each
individual student to learn better. The sit-at-your-desk model does not work well for many of
our students. We MUST progress to appropriate interactive education. The expansion of home
schooling, Flex school, and the Connections program are recognition of the reality that students
learn in different ways. Although these are good responses to select problems, they are indicative
that our 'regular' schools are not filling the student needs. Of course, many of our great teachers
try to do this as individualized education, but I believe our system must integrate these proven
lessons if all our children are to receive the great advantage of superior education through
appropriate learning experiences for each child. The Federal "No Child Left Behind" program
served to highlight disparities between schools but has also harmfully narrowed the focus of
education to only "test the 3 R's". It has also constrained great teachers from exciting students
with the diversity of the educational world. I'm looking forward to working with our district to implement the new Federal ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) to meet our unique needs in Alaska.
Recent Education Funding
In 2005 I sponsored HB24 which would have required an early, separate education operating
budget. However, after passing the House, the Senate attached conditional language to our
earliest ever House education bill, requiring passage of a retirement bill before it became
effective - making education funding in 2005 about the latest ever passed. Under this future
procedural threat, the early funding bill never left the rules committee and died. However, as
a member of the Legislative Education Funding Task Force, I helped craft forward funding by
incorporating the 3 year base student allocation for 2008, 2009, and 2010, in statute, additionally
implementing a phased-in Geographical Cost Differential solution. The legislature in 2012 did
incorporate forward increments for student transportation and deposited money for next year's
school funding but the per-student amount is not determined so school budgets will again be hard
to anticipate. This led to the old timing of 'pink slips' problem which needs correcting.
I support the teacher mentoring program that had proven results in retaining teachers within
Alaska by almost 10%. I believe we need to get more money directed to Vocational/Technical
education without reducing the quality of purely academic education for the college bound.
We were able to target a ‘VOTEC’ increase for 2012 and beyond. Incentive systems must
be carefully designed to accomplish the goal of improving student outcomes. I hope we will
incorporate the lessons of "The Science of Motivation" into any new program. You can see what our challenge is at www.TED.com
, for a short video by Dan Pink on this new science.
The Alaska Performance Scholarship merit-based system combined with needs-based Alaska
Advantage program funded at a 2 dollar to 1 dollar ratio has been a success. This creates a
good 'bang for the buck' and expands the number of Alaskans getting higher education in Alaska.
However, a presentation by the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education showed that
our population now has one of the lowest education levels in the country and just addressing high
school seniors would take a generation to improve that situation. I will push to be sure we have
definitive goals and mechanisms that will target our money in ways that research shows will
most effectively accomplish the goal for continuing education.