Alaska Students Protest Education Funding Veto with Statewide Walkout

(—In March, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) vetoed an education funding bill that would have significantly increased the amount of money going to the state’s K-12 education. The state legislature failed by a vote to override the move, leaving Alaska schools once again without any major additions to the state’s base student allocation (BSA). Students across the state participated in a walkout to protest the decision.

Senate Bill 140 would have boosted educational funds to improve school districts’ internet access, empower charter schools, increase transportation, and provide money for reading improvement programs. It also proposed creating a new position to improve support and use of charter schools throughout the state. Additionally, it would have increased the BSA from $5,960 to $6,640.

Dunleavy didn’t agree with the bill. He wanted changes that allowed the state school board, not local districts, to approve new charter schools. Lawmakers argued that such decisions shouldn’t come on the state level, so they rejected the provision. Senate President Gary Stevens (R), who previously served as a school board president, didn’t like the idea of local leaders losing so much control.

Dunleavy issued a statement on March 29 defending his action. He insists that additional funding without serious overhauls to the entire education system will just be more wasted money. He stated that more and more parents are removing their children from neighborhood schools, and if better accessibility to alternatives like charter schools didn’t become available, Alaskans would “vote with their feet” and abandon the public educational system completely.

Alaska high school students weren’t impressed. They organized the walkout, which took place on April 4, on social media. Participants at more than two dozen schools picketed for 40 minutes—one minute for each of the lawmakers necessary to override Dunleavy’s veto. The participants came to school wearing red as a symbol of their support for increased educational funding.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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