Candidate: It's our turn to 'pay it forward' on education

“Pay it forward” is part of my educational philosophy. When we were children in public schools people around us paid taxes to educate us. Our parents and neighbors volunteered in schools, served on the PTA and voted. They voted for school bonds and for leaders who valued education.

Now it’s our turn, particularly as we consider the status of our schools.

The Anchorage School District’s report card reveals that more than half of our students fail to achieve a full year’s growth academically. Compared to 50 school districts that match us in size, we rank at the bottom for academic achievement in reading for fourth graders. Where is the District’s plan to address this achievement gap?

As a member of several committees with the Anchorage School District and as a parent, I am often asked to review textbooks that ASD is considering adopting. But I have never been asked to review or help with a strategic plan to address the achievement gap, nor has ASD released such a plan to inform parents and stakeholders how they intend to address this serious issue.

Because of the District’s failure to address the achievement gap, the NAACP will ask the Assembly not to approve the ASD budget. No plan (that I know of), no money.

Leadership begins at the top; it is time for our School Board and Superintendent to make the achievement gap a priority. Taxpayers, parents and, especially, our students deserve it.

We must take action. Speak to your legislators. Become an activist for schools and our community. Vote for the school bonds. When there is an opportunity to support educators, speak on their behalf. They need an advocate so that they are empowered to help our child.

This is your responsibility. Remember: someone paid taxes so that you and your children could have the benefit of an education. And we Alaskans have a moral obligation to pay it forward.

Be part of the solution.

Starr Marsett

School Board Candidate, Seat B