AG's family plan for Anchorage School District tuition payments collides with Constitution
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
10h ago
When Attorney General Tregarrick Taylor said that an outside attorney has cleared him of any potential conflict of interest in the landmark private school funding case, he refused to provide details, claiming those are secrets under the attorney-client privilege. He did say that “the situation with my kids schooling has changed significantly.” Perhaps the most significant change in the past two years is that that the Anchorage Family Partnership Charter School that his family planned to get $8,000 from no longer exists. And public money from the Anchorage School District is no longer available ..read more
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As the state looked the other way, school districts set up their own private school voucher programs
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
10h ago
Alaska school districts did not call it a voucher system for private schools, but that’s what some of them have created, using a system that a state judge has declared unconstitutional. Few of the districts have spelled out the working details so clearly as the CyberLynx Homeschool & Correspondence Program based in Nenana and largely state funded. It had about 1,500 students statewide in 2022-2023, according to the Alaska Policy Forum, which promotes using state funds for private tuition. The school provides a $2,700 allotment for every student. In a staff memo two years ago, after the wif ..read more
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Attorney general says he no longer has a conflict of interest about using public funds to pay private school tutition
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
3d ago
Attorney General Tregarrick Taylor reinserted himself into the debate over using public funds for private schools, almost two years after his wife announced plans for she and her husband to seek $8,000 in state funds to pay most of the cost of private school tuition for two of their children. He says his conflict of interest no longer exists, hinting that it is because his family is not longer seeking public funds to pay for private school tuition in Anchorage. Two years ago, his wife, Jodi Taylor, a right-wing activist and chair of the Alaska Policy Forum board, wrote: “My two youngest school ..read more
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Plaintiffs in landmark school case seek stay to reduce correspondence uncertainty
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
4d ago
On Monday, the parents and teachers who won the landmark correspondence school case took a big step toward ending the immediate uncertainty over the future of the programs by asking the court for a limited stay. They asked that the ruling declaring the allotment law unconstitutional be delayed until June 30, the end of the state fiscal year, which would allow the school year to end without interruption, said Scott Kendall, the attorney for the plaintiffs. This would help parents who relied on the law as it was at the start of the school year, Kendall said. The Outside group called the Institut ..read more
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Judge strikes down private education allotments Dunleavy pushed in 2014, upending push for school vouchers
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
An Anchorage Superior Court judge struck down a plan championed by Sen. Mike Dunleavy in 2014 to spend public money to benefit private schools, declaring it is clearly unconstitutional. The Alaska Constitution prohibits spending public money on private schools. Judge Adolf Zeman said there “is no workable way to construe the statutes to allow only constitutional spending and AS 14.03.300-310 must be struck down as unconstitutional in their entirety.” I wrote about Dunleavy’s push for a new charter school authorization plan that would lead to private school vouchers the other day. His voucher v ..read more
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AIDEA denounces critical research reports before reading them
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority didn’t bother to read the three new reports by respected Alaska economists Gregg Erickson and Milt Barker before denouncing the documents as inaccurate. Legislators need to ask why the state-owned development bank is so quick to try to direct attention away from the poor financial returns and the opaque operations of AIDEA described in detail in the Erickson/Barker reports. "AIDEA has never produced even the simplest accounting of full-time-equivalent jobs that it claims to generate, let alone a rigorous economic analysis of its direct, in ..read more
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AIDEA's job-creation claims fall flat, veteran Alaska economists conclude
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
In September 2022, Alaska economists Gregg Erickson and Milt Barker, two of the leading experts on the history of Alaska’s state government, did a financial analysis of the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority. As I wrote at the time, their review paints a paints a devastating portrait of AIDEA’s financial performance, where politics has almost always trumped economics. In terms of getting trustworthy researchers with the institutional knowledge of state finances to carry out this work, it would be impossible to find a better pair of experts than Barker and Erickson. They know ..read more
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Charter schools serve wealthier families, a detail missing from Dunleavy's charter school con job
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
Alaska Education Commissioner Deena Bishop, self-professed “data nerd,” has yet to correct her false claim on March 27 that 2,000 students are on waiting lists in Anchorage for charter schools. The real number is about 200. Include neighborhood schools and the number is about 350. The continuing refusal by Bishop and others to provide accurate data on charter schools is clearly intentional on the part of the Dunleavy administration, part of the campaign to divert more public education funds into private schools. For more than a decade as a legislator and governor, Dunleavy has wanted to create ..read more
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Dunleavy charter school demands would lead to private school vouchers
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
There is one important lesson to draw from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s demand to give his political allies on the state school board the power to create charter schools and override local school boards—this is his path to creating private school vouchers in Alaska. The Alaska Constitution bans the use of public money for private schools, but Dunleavy has long tried to circumvent that provision or amend it out of existence. In 2013, he proposed a constitutional amendment to allow private school vouchers and a bill that would set up a financial transfer that would accomplish the same thing under a diff ..read more
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Dunleavy, AG cleared themselves for free legal help in ethics cases by changing regulation; Legislature tries to stop it by law
Reporting From Alaska
by Dermot Cole
1w ago
Despite unanimous public opposition, the Dunleavy administration adopted regulations in late 2023 to allow the governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor to get free legal help from the Department of Law when ethics violations are alleged. This is a new benefit, one that is denied to other state employees. Smart lawyers say it is unconstitutional and that the governor and AG Tregarrick Taylor do not have the power to give each other the gift of free legal help. Other state employees are expected to pay for their own defense in ethics cases and qualify for reimbursement from the state w ..read more
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