Higher Education Task Force

By Dave Donaldson

The legislature this week began task force hearings designed to get more of Alaska’s students ready for higher education or careers.  The group of twenty lawmakers and experts in various specialties of learning was set up with a goal of coming up with recommendations to improve the rate of those students who don’t complete high school, or who need remedial studies when they get to the University level.

The task force was set up by Senate President Gary Stevens, who is also its chairman.  He says the current system is not working and is not measuring up to expected results.  And, he says,  excuses and blame will not make anything better.

It’s not that we’re plowing new ground here.  We need to find out what is the cause of so much student drop out along the way and think about what can we do to help the situation.  What can the legislature do?  What are your recommendations to help us help our students and impact Alaska’s economy and the success rate of our young people?

Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of  Alaska School Boards reminded the members that neither the world, nor the education system is the same now as when they were students.  He called for more flexibility in what schools provide.

Schools have children six and a half hours a day.  The rest of that time they are faced and are immersed in social, economic, demographic, technological and political changes and challenges that are affecting everything in their world.  And then they come to school and it’s about reading, writing and math.  There’s more to life than that.

The Task Force will meet again during next year’s legislative session before making its full report in April.


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