Measure for education bill of rights would set new standards for state, UAA

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) An initiative group is looking to get an educational bill of rights on the state ballot in August.
It would create a set of standards for the state Department of Education and the UA Board of Regents to strive for.

“It provides for safety in our public schools which is extremely important,” said Barb Clark, a West High Teacher and supporter of the bill. “And for all kids to have high-quality classes, and that runs to class size, that runs to curriculum, that runs to the range of educational opportunities that we can offer."

The bill would create new requirements for the Department of Education and the Board of Regents to attract educators, reduce class sizes, and more, but it doesn't provide a clear method for doing so. That was one concern raised by the Department of Law in their review of the ballot measure.

"The bill's language is also very aspirational without concrete requirements..." Wrote Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills in the review. “It may be difficult for [The Department of Education] to adopt a clear regulation defining these terms and setting standards that can be uniformly applied among all the school districts."

Clark calls that language a leap of faith.

“It does express some trust in the department of education to be aspirational..." She said. “The state of Alaska has standards. Academic standards, we have social and emotional standards, and we've never really set a framework, a way to know that the state, through its educational department, is meeting its constitutional mandate to provide a high-quality education for every Alaskan child."

The measure needs to collect 28,501 before the legislature meets in January to make it on the ballot.

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