This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.
State judge Sharon Gleason is performing a great service for Alaskans. In handling a suit claiming the state doesn't adequately support K-12 education, she is essentially conducting a detailed audit of how well the state helps Alaska's handful of chronically underachieving school districts. Answer: Not very well.
After listening to experts on both sides, Judge Gleason found the state is failing students in those academically troubled districts, all of which are in the Bush.
"The schools in the chronically underperforming school districts are not constitutionally adequate." she wrote in her ruling Feb. 4. "The Education Clause (of the Alaska Constitution) requires considerably more from the state in the way of oversight and assistance to those districts."
What does the state do now with those struggling districts?
Judge Gleason found that the state uses a not-very-helpful cookie-cutter approach.
State overseers demand the districts take the same fixed menu of steps, then check to see if districts are following through. Nobody really bothers to make sure that following those steps actually improves how children are taught in the classroom.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.