Anchorage School Board candidate Q&As: Do you have ideas for how ASD can improve its career and technical education curriculum?

In advance of the April 5 Anchorage municipal election, the Anchorage Daily News asked candidates running for Anchorage School Board a series of issue questions. Read all the Assembly and school board candidates’ responses here.

Q: Do you have ideas for how ASD can improve its career and technical education curriculum?

Seat A

Margo Bellamy

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is included in Board Goal No. 3. This goal represents the community’s vision that ASD students are life, college, and career-ready when they graduate from high school. This goal has resulted in the identification of a specific pathways and indicators of what it means to be career-ready. In addition to the specific pathways and indicators that include career interest inventories, CTE pathways, dual credit career courses, I would advocate to expand the kind and number of student career internships, business mentorships and industry work experience opportunities.

Mark Anthony Cox

Expanding our King Tech facility/curriculum to students who demonstrate the High school required proficiency before junior and senior year as well as establishing similar programs within existing schools would offer increased opportunity which I discern is more valuable than further diversifying curriculum. We can instead work in conjunction with other organizations that offer more diverse programs that our students should be able to utilize at no additional cost to them.

Dan Loring - Did not respond to survey.


Cliff Murray

I like what members Dave Donley and Carl Jacobs are pursuing with career readiness, but I would like to see even more. If we can connect more trade associations and businesses with career readiness programs in schools, then we will give more students vision and hope. From the perspective of a student, talk is cheap. We need to show them career path options and the benefits to those paths.

Seat B

Benjamin Baldwin - Did not respond to survey, suspended campaign.

Dustin Darden

Start at a young age with hands on things like blocks of wood, hammers and nails. Yards of dirt teach them to grow food and raise chickens, how to purify water and gather food, the basic survival skills. Teach them how to make a friction fire with sticks and cordage. Teach them defensive hand-to-hand combat, Morris code, smoke signals. Teach them to have their stuff together so they won’t be asking for help but be able to offer aid, teach them first-aid and CPR. Teach them to build printing presses to make pamphlets, teach them to make radio networks and to build transportation vehicles out of rubble. Teach them to hunt, fish, gather and process food, then to prepare for times of famine and war. Teach them the word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and an appreciation for our Heavenly Father for all that He has provided and the opportunity to be a blessing to the nations Teach them discipline and respect, teach them to be loving and forgiving but also justice.

Kelly Lessens

CTE has amazing assets, ranging from horticulture and culinary opportunities to welding, biomedical, aviation, business and more! But it would be wonderful to expose students at all schools to a variety of career and technical options early. This might look like elementary-school introductions to community leaders or middle school field trips to training facilities, King Tech, and/or access to mentorship programs. Students at all eight comprehensive high schools and at King Tech have options to enroll in CTE pathways, and students also have opportunities to receive college credits for certain CTE courses while they’re in ASD. They can pursue internships, join Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), and can join a two year “Business Academy” (while receiving college credit). I’m also excited about the district’s new Student Community Workforce Agreement, which should encourage the entry of more students into high-paying, skilled trades.

Rachel Ries

Yes. Not every student needs to attend college to be successful and well-educated. There needs to be equal emphasis on career and technical education to allow students to select programs which provide them with education and skills reflective of their interests and goals.

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Read more Q&As with Anchorage School Board candidates:

What is a short summary of your background?

Why are you running?

What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage School Board?

What’s your vision for public education in Anchorage?

What’s the single most important issue facing the Anchorage School District? How would you address it if elected?

If I could change one thing in the Anchorage School District, it would be _____. Explain.


Do you have areas of concern about student achievement in the Anchorage School District? What are your specific suggestions for improvement?

Do you have ideas for how ASD can improve its career and technical education curriculum?

Are you satisfied with current preschool options? Explain.

Is the Anchorage School District currently doing a good job of retaining quality teachers? What steps, if any, should the school board take to improve teacher retention?

Rate how the Anchorage School District has handled the pandemic, and why? What would you have done differently, if anything?

Many students are struggling due to pandemic-related challenges, both academically and behaviorally. What are some strategies the school district should prioritize to help students recover from that period?

What are your thoughts on how the topic of racism and its history in the United States should be taught in public schools?

What other important issue would you like to discuss?