No basis for closing Alyeska Central School

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2003

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Education Department wants to close Alyeska correspondence school

I am suffering a total loss of understanding as to why the Murkowski administration has proposed closing Alyeska Central School.

Public testimony on HB174, which would terminate ACS's existence, has been overwhelming in support of the continued operation of ACS, testimony has repeatedly pointed out the facts that ACS is not a duplication of services, nor will its closure save the state any money. ACS is a quality (accredited) school and provides a unique learning environment many students have found successful.

In response to questions from members of the House Education Committee concerning the phantom cost savings of closing ACS, Department of EED spokesman Eddie Jones stated that closing ACS is not a financial issue but rather, a "policy issue."

The "policy issue," it seems, is whether state government should be in the business of operating schools. The Murkowski administration apparently believes state government should not.

Is the governor aware of the other schools operated by state government? Mount Edgecumbe, a boarding school, and AVTECH, a vocational school, as well as ACS are operated by state government.

All of the weak arguments offered by the administration for closing ACS can be applied equally to these other state-operated schools. There has been no proposal by the administration, however, to close either Mount Edgecumbe or AVTECH.

Why is that? The governor's policy is that state government should not be in the business of operating schools, right?

The fate of this "policy issue" and ACS is now in the Legislature's hands. This body may listen and be responsive to the public's testimony and not pass this ill-advised legislation. The Legislature may, however, legitimize the governor's arbitrary stand on this "policy issue" by passing the bill.

It will soon become clear whether our lawmakers are committed to quality schools, no child left behind, and choice of educational alternatives or to toeing the governor's line.

David Blackwell


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