Today Governor Mike Dunleavy announced two education bills which will be filed this week. One bill is a teacher recruitment and retention incentive that will provide full-time, certified classroom teachers a cash payment each July for a period of three years. The other bill ensures transparency in schools by codifying parental rights and by requiring school districts to adopt procedures addressing the physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms in public schools.
Parental Rights in Education
The Parental Rights in Education bill amends Alaska’s education statutes to increase opportunities for parental involvement in their children’s education by creating meaningful notice and consent requirements.
The bill clarifies existing statute requiring parental notification prior to discussing human reproduction or sexual matters to include gender identity and requires written permission for the child to participate in the activity, class or program.
The bill requires written permission from a parent before the name or pronoun used by a public school to address to the parent’s child is changed. It also requires school districts to inform parents in writing of the right to pursue legal action against a school district if the parent’s rights have been violated.
“I’ve supported increasing parental involvement in education as a school principal and school board president. Then as a State Senator in 2016 I sponsored the bill that codified some parental rights in education in Alaska. This bill builds upon that work to increase family involvement and secure parental rights in education,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Research shows that involving families more in a child’s education leads to better relationships and improved educational outcomes for students, and this bill will do just that.”
The bill also ensures that a school district does not selectively withhold information regarding a child’s physical, medical, or mental health from a parent, foster parent, or guardian unless a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure of the information would result in child abuse or neglect.
The bill recognizes every child’s right to privacy by requiring school districts to include procedures addressing the physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms and restrooms as part of the school’s disciplinary and safety program. Physical safety and privacy of students in locker rooms is to be addressed through the physical separation of students by biological sex, access to single occupant facilities, or other safety and privacy protocols consistent with A.S. 14.18.040.
Teacher Retention and Recruitment Incentives
The Teacher Retention and Recruitment Incentive bill identifies cash payment tiers for each school district in the amount of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. The highest tier payments are directed to Alaska’s remote and rural schools. The $10,000 tier is targeted toward rural schools that, despite their remoteness, are sufficiently linked to Alaska’s urban networks to allow for more regular access to goods and services. The $5,000 tier is focused on incentivizing teachers in Alaska’s most urbanized areas.
“As a former educator in rural Alaska, I know how big of a difference it makes when a teacher stays in a community for a longer period of time,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “The labor market for teachers is tight across the country, but this bill will help Alaska school districts recruit and retain qualified teachers for years to come.”
Under the terms of the bill, certified full-time teachers assigned to a classroom teaching assignment will receive a lump sum payment on, or around, July 1, 2024, July 1, 2025, and July 1, 2026. In order to be eligible for the lump sum payment, a teacher must occupy a teaching position for the entirety of the school term for the school year immediately preceding the date of payment. The purpose of the bill is to provide a post-school year payment to encourage teachers to remain in Alaska for the entirety of the school year, thereby promoting continuity for Alaska’s students and maximizing education outcomes.