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Two Anchorage Dems Roll Out Education Bill

Gara, Tuck legislation would enhance parental involvement

ANCHORAGE - Two Anchorage Democrats today announced a plan to improve the educational achievement of students who need more parental support at home. Today less than 70 percent of young Alaskans graduate from high school. School officials have long told policymakers that students of involved parents graduate and succeed at a much higher rate than those with parents who are not involved in their children's education.

Today Reps Chris Tuck and Les Gara (both D-Anchorage) announced a bill to enhance parental involvement in children's education.

"Whether or not children are homeschooled, in private schools, or in public schools, parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children," Tuck said. "Serving on the school board, we realized parents have the most influence in their child's success. This bill will help equip parents with the tools necessary to maximize their child's learning potential."

"We should take action to get more parents involved," Gara said. "Just complaining about the problem, and turning our heads, doesn't fix it. Unless we take responsible action it will cost us in lost opportunities, remedial education, school failure and in jobs. While I support reducing class sizes, enhanced parent involvement would do more for underachieving students, at little cost." Gara began promoting this idea in 2007.

The legislation would provide school districts with outreach staff that could be used to make parent contact when students are underachieving because of the lack of home support. School districts would decide how to allocate the staff. The legislation proposes to provide school districts one additional outreach staff for every 500 students in that district.

Carol Comeau, Superintendent of the Anchorage School District, has seen the success of parent outreach efforts, and agrees more support is needed if schools are going to effectively get more parents involved in the education of their children. She offered the following statement, and can be contacted for additional information:

"The Anchorage School District applauds legislators for introducing this important legislation. Research clearly shows that when parents are involved in their child's education, in partnership with teachers and administrators, the student has stronger student success in school. We have seen the benefits of parent coordinators with our grant with SERRC where we have parent outreach liaisons with the Hmong, Yupik, Samoan, and Filipino communities. We must be vigilant about reaching out and engaging parents in their children's education in order to insure greater student achievement."

"Barb Angiak, President of NEA-Alaska, Alaska's largest teacher's organization, has also announced her support for the effort to enhance parent support at home."

Rep Tuck can be contacted at 223-6474; Rep. Gara can be contacted at 250-0106; and Carol Comeau may be contacted 742-4312.

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