This Rose proven to be less thorny

Head of school board group grapples with politics of education

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2001

Carl Rose says he's presiding over a kinder, gentler Association of Alaska School Boards.

Rose, executive director of the non-profit organization since 1987, says AASB is no longer a "management bulldog" that bashes teachers.

Instead, Rose said he and his board are advocates for students.

"I don't know how you do that without valuing your instructional staff. ... It's hard to treat people fairly if you're in an adversarial relationship."

Rich Kronberg, president of the National Education Association of Alaska, said Rose has succeeded in building bridges with the teachers' union.

"He's aware how critical quality teachers are," Kronberg said. "We view Carl on most things as an ally. ... I believe we both have as an agenda to provide a high-quality education to students."

Rose, 51, hadn't planned on a career in education.

A native of Hawaii, he met his wife, Frances, a Skagway native, when he was in the U.S. Navy in Washington state, where they both went to college. After he got his business degree from the University of Washington, they made a summer visit to Skagway in 1974.

They never left, except to move belongings north. He ended up driving a bus for a tour company and working on a bridge reconstruction project, before becoming an employee of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, holding positions from locomotive mechanic to dispatcher over several years.

When the railroad shut down in 1983, the Roses opened the Prospector Sourdough Restaurant to take advantage of tourism growth with the creation of the Klondike National Park. Their sons, Travis and Tyler, essentially grew up inside the restaurant, eventually getting on the payroll.

Carl Rose also had been serving on the Skagway school board. In 1983, he was president of the AASB board of directors, and in 1984 he was the Republican nominee against state Rep. Peter Goll, a Democrat from Haines.

Although he never ran for the Legislature again, Rose has been working with lawmakers ever since, especially since taking the reins of AASB in Juneau in 1987.

"There's the educational arena, and there's the political arena," he said. "As soon as you start talking money, then you're starting to enter the political arena."

He said he tries to talk about educational needs before talking about money. Before lawmakers appropriate money for education, "I think policy-makers need to validate what we need," he said.

The association, like the Legislature, represents diverse areas with pressing needs, he noted.

"The one thing we all have in common is we love our kids. ... What my membership has been able to do is look at the issues based on principle."

Rose says rural districts have been hurt by adjustments to state education funding in recent years. More money is needed to put technical expertise in place in rural districts, he said.

The AASB board also is supporting a longer school year to increase "time on task" and is pushing for a delay in the pending high school exit exam for fear that many students won't pass it in 2002.

"Are we holding the system responsible by withholding a diploma from a student? I don't think so," Rose said. He added that he does believe in having standards and having consequences for not meeting them. "I don't think we want to dummy down. In fact, we want to raise the bar as we start to perform."

Rose said the state's response to a teacher shortage is lowering standards for teachers, even while raising standards for students. There has to be adequate compensation to attract and retain teachers, especially with California offering signing bonuses to University of Alaska graduates, he said.

Rose views most legislators as having good intentions and welcomes the experienced leadership of House Speaker Brian Porter, an Anchorage Republican, and Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican.

But over time, the Capitol has become more polarized, he said.

"We don't have that clustering of people who are more moderately positioned." Too often, there's a "scarcity mentality - that the pie is only so big," he said. He prefers the attitude that "there's enough for all of us."

Bill McAllister can be reached at

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