Stimulus funding for education a bright idea

Why is it that education seems to be the first thing to be cut when it comes to funding from the state of Alaska?
Governors across the nation are deciding how to use some of the $787 billion President Obama signed into law in late February. Gov. Sarah Palin is not left out of this. Alaska was initially eligible for $930 million of the stimulus over the next two years. Palin’s proposed spending equates to $514 million of that.
But of the $288 million that was cut, $172 million of that was set for education.
So why is it that conservative lawmakers choose to cut spending on education first? Earlier this year, the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents proposed budget for K-12 outreach of $2.6 million was cut to just $800,000 when the governor amended it.
It feels like we’re beating a dead horse when we reemphasize the fact that Alaska flunked affordability according to a report released by The State Report Card on Higher Education. Or that Alaska only spends six cents for every dollar in Pell Grant aid the state receives. In some ways it seems like certain state leaders are trying to make access to higher education more inaccessible.
Now, as our nation faces tough economic times, Alaska has been given the option of increasing programs that would help further education, and some have decided that we don’t need it.
Gov. Palin has requested a public forum asking Alaskans where they would like to see the money go. Hopefully, Alaskans will come out in support of education. Adding more programs that support education only better a community. Not only will it create immediate jobs by installing programs that will create those jobs, but it will help educate Alaskans in the long run. Students benefiting from these programs will become more effective citizens by having the education necessary to keep our community vibrant.
Alaska as a whole struggles with disastrous high school drop out rates that is twice the national average. Alaska ranks last in all the states in the number of ninth graders who will have bachelors degrees within 10 years of graduating. Part of this must be attributed to a lack of resources for students before they even make it to high school. Anything that can be done to improve Alaska’s dropout rate should not be questioned.
Now is the time to contact state representatives and encourage them to have this dialogue with Palin. The stimulus plan may not be the long-term solution, but it’s a solution Alaska desperately needs right now.