Letter: Thanks for recognizing UAS's role in teacher education

As Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast, I’d like to thank the citizens of Juneau and individuals all across our state for supporting UAS recognition as the state’s leader for teacher education.

 

The UA Board of Regents voted 11-0 last week in support of this leadership role, assuring that UAS will be a full partner in university education statewide. I’m especially grateful to our elected officials and community leaders who stepped up in support: Lt. Gov. Mallott, Sen. Dennis Egan, Reps. Sam Kito and Cathy Munoz, Rep.-elect Justin Parrish, Mayor Ken Koelsch, CBJ assembly members, City Manager Rorie Watt, and our UAS Juneau Campus Council.

This action by the Board of Regents is important for two reasons. First, UA President Jim Johnsen has set a goal of greatly increasing the number of Alaskan teachers in our schools. Currently, two-thirds of all new teachers come from Outside. By 2025, he wants 90 percent of those hires to be Alaskans — a goal I support fully.

To meet this goal, we will build on highly-productive teacher education programs already in place at UAS: our Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT); Alaska Native teacher preparation (PITAAS — Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska’s Schools), and our Juneau-based academies for new principals and superintendents. We’ll also work with UAA and UAF to develop a more streamlined statewide curriculum and build on successful efforts elsewhere in the state.

The second reason is that this action is important for Juneau’s economy and for that of Southeast Alaska. UAS is one of Juneau’s largest employers with a budget of $50 million and over 300 employees. In Juneau alone we have a payroll of $26 million. In the last six years, UAS contracts with the building industry totaled over $40 million and contracts with local vendors average about $5 million annually.

While UAS is dealing with budget cuts like all others in the state, there is a risk that a diminished role for UAS could lead to even greater reductions over time. The Regents’ vote affirms that UAS will continue to be a leader within the UA statewide system, and continue to be a vibrant part of the Southeast Alaska economy.

Thank you to all those who spoke up in support of UAS and expanding quality teacher education for our state!

Rick Caulfield

Chancellor, University of Alaska Southeast

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