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Sunday: Constituent Meeting & Pizza Event; And A New Student Success Initiative


Dear Neighbors-

I know you like free pizza. But I really know you want to know what the heck’s going on in Juneau. That’s your right. You elected us, and our job is to inform and work hard for your interests. So, every year, Senator Ellis and I come home to see what’s on your mind, and let you know what we’re working on.
And this year we’ve taken it up a very small notch, and recorded a highly non-Academy Award quality video invite (see below).

In the meantime, my press releases, which I don’t always send to you, and my newsletters are all on my website at http://akdemocrats.org/rep_gara/.
We hope to see you this Sunday February 19th from 4-6pm at the Fairview Recreation Center.
Finally, I hope you’ll let me have a Bob Dole moment, and speak about our work in this office in “first person.” Below is a press release we just sent out on a new initiative aimed at increasing student success. That requires parental involvement; great teachers; and, great principals. We have filed legislation on all 3, but want to highlight the recent “Excellence in Principals” legislation we just filed this week. So - my Bob Dole moment... in a moment.
As always, I hope you're doing well. And, please let me know if we can help in any way.
My Best,

(907) 465-2647
CONTACT: Toby Smith Legislative Aide



Increasing Student Achievement - Gara Files "Excellent Principals For Excellent Schools" Legislation

(JUNEAU) - This week Rep. Les Gara added to the arsenal of cost-effective ideas to improve Alaska’s schools, and its 45th national ranking in 3rd grade reading levels. “This state has too many last place and near-last place rankings when it comes to educating the next generation. That’s bad for families, and bad for the economy,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage). “High quality principals have been proven to increase academic achievement,” said Gara. That point is being echoed during this month’s Education Summit in Anchorage by education policy expert Kati Hancock, President of the Education Trust.
House Bill 322 would offer hiring and retention bonuses to principals who have a demonstrated ability of increasing student achievement. “Excellent teachers are important, and we need to keep pushing to hire them, not lose them as Alaska is unfortunately poised to do this year under the Governor’s proposal. Our Excellent Principals legislation recognizes that for very little money, the state can retain and attract the highest quality principals.”
Studies show that excellent principals can help turn schools around. A report recently issued by the National Conference of State legislators is attached. Findings summarized in that report show that excellent principals can contribute up to 25% of the impact needed to increase student achievement. Additionally, evidence shows exceptional principals can both enhance the effectiveness of good teachers, and help retain them as they get frustrated with jobs that often come with a lack of resources. “Teacher turnover harms academic achievement, and great principals succeed at fostering the retention of great teachers,” said Gara.
Rep. Gara has called for a hearing on this legislation. “The state not only has to make sure our schools have the resources they need, it also has to take bolder moves to reform an educational system that still ranks last in the nation is sending youth to college. Working to attract and retain excellent principals is one very inexpensive way to increase academic success, and create a stronger workforce and economy,” said Gara. For questions or more information, please contact Rep. Gara at 465-2647.

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