Hilts: Time to think bigger about education

Serving as a member of the Board of Education for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has been an exciting and fulfilling adventure.

I have been blessed to represent one of the most unique sets of communities in the nation, with Russian villages, Alaska Native communities, and the genuine and exceptional Alaskans that we have on the Peninsula. Cultures, traditions, even languages differ, but we all are concerned about and committed to the education of our children.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District does an impressive job. Our teachers and administrators are meeting the challenges that are found in this area. Most students are thriving. Communities get involved in their schools. It is a good district to represent.

But I believe that we have more to accomplish, and more success to experience than we are having currently. To do that Alaska has to think bigger about education. We are an amazing state, but our education system is too fragmented. We need to unite in an effort that begins at birth and ends only when an individual has accomplished what is necessary for a rich, fulfilled life. We need to offer resources to all of our families for their children, starting with things like Best Beginnings and Imagination Library, tools to be used in our homes for our little ones. We need to see education as a spectrum, not a series of separate programs that do not necessarily complement each other. Our schools and universities need to be organized in a more seamless fashion. We have a mobile state. Students should expect that a history course in one school or community could transfer to another without major gaps. This does not mean robotic conformity. It just ensures compatibility. We need to see our educational system as local, but also statewide, because what benefits Bethel, enhances Seward; and when the children of Noatak are educated, the economy of Anchorage prospers; and when Kachemak Selo graduates a nursing student, we might all be blessed; and so it is throughout the state.

Alaska should have the outstanding educational system of the country. We can do that. But it takes the heart of every community, the will of every legislator, the involvement of each one of us to get there. I hope I am going to privileged to be part of such an effort.

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