Anchorage School Board candidate Q&As: What’s your vision for public education in Anchorage?

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: What’s your vision for public education in Anchorage?

Seat A

Margo Bellamy

I believe every student in Anchorage deserves the same access to high quality educational learning experiences in a safe environment that allows them to thrive. Currently, our data dashboard shows clear disparities in outcomes for students when it comes to race and class. I will continue to invest in creative ways to identify barriers to access and learning and dismantle them so all ASD students can thrive.

Mark Anthony Cox

I envision the future of public education being a choice that both parents and students can make that ensures the student’s readiness for higher education and adulthood. This education will be transparent and collaborative amongst teachers and parents. Funding for this education will include provisions for funding to follow the student with preferred school choice, which encourages natural competition for schools to produce high-quality education and environments for learning. The taxpayers and business owners will see a return on investment from their support in reduced crime and an increase in the quality of the emerging workforce. This is my vision for public education in Anchorage.

Dan Loring - Did not respond to survey.


Cliff Murray

We have to improve our test scores and graduation outcomes. I believe we can be one of the top school districts in the country with proper leadership and vision. I would like to see every graduate be job-ready at the time of graduation. Whether a student joins the workforce, the military, a trade school, or pursues a degree, our students should be ready when they graduate.

Seat B

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

Dustin Darden

Education that is free from bondage and tyranny, education that inspires hope for a future that shines so bright it crushes the wicked plans of the enemy. For you perpetrators of evil on the little ones, you are guilty and you will be dealt with in this world and eternity, but God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believe it in him should not perish but have everlasting life. I plead with you to repent now.

Kelly Lessens

We need to build an effective, efficient, 21st century system that provides all students with access to core bodies of knowledge and skills that will allow them to collaborate, innovate and apply ideas throughout their lives. We must also equip them with the tools to be informed civic participants, to empathize with others, to demonstrate critical thinking, and to work to build a society in which everyone truly belongs. These goals depend on leaders who will place children’s developmental needs at the center of our education system, who will advocate for curricular excellence, and who will call for the resources required to get the job done.

Rachel Ries

Protect parents’ rights with transparent curriculum and provide viable school choice options for every student and parent in Anchorage. Invest in teachers and administrators as professionals by treating each campus as unique for education, staff, and services. Prioritize spending in the classroom. Return to classic education that works and highlights actual learning. Make sure that CRT, DIE, and Equity Theory are not taught in our classrooms and a part of the ASD culture by returning to true equality through excellent education opportunities for every student.

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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?