Rural Alaskans will suffer

most if our PFD shrinks

Wow! Another Native leader sells out and forgets the culture. Political and corporate leaders are willing to use the Permanent Fund to save the Alaska economy at the expense of rural Alaska. God save the culture bearers.

— Fred Wemark


Wohlforth was right about Hanley and the eduction board

Charles Wohlforth was spot on when he wrote his article on Education Commissioner Mike Hanley. Mr. Wohlforth tuned in immediately to what the real issue was with the commissioner: Sen. Mike Dunleavy and the State Board of Education leadership, Chair James Field and First Vice Chair (and chair heir apparent) Sue Hull.

I can tell you from personal experience that if you cross Sen. Dunleavy, you can bet the axe will fall not far from where you are standing.

Even though the State Board of Education selects the education commissioner, the important phrase in the law reads, “On approval of the governor.” Not only does the commissioner of education work for all the students in Alaska, he also works for the board and the governor. Therein lies the rub. The current leadership of the board will tell you that they work for the Legislature, and, the way it looks, particularly Sen. Dunleavy. So soon they forget who appointed them to the board, and who can decide he might prefer a new board.

After having served 12 years on this same board, it boggles my mind that this new leadership took it upon themselves to recommend to the governor that Commissioner Hanley seek employment elsewhere without the vote of the entire board. Also, the board recently participated in a strategic planning session, and if there were concerns about, in the words of Sue Hull, “pushing back harder against federal restrictions …,” that subject certainly should have been one of the discussion items, and Commissioner Hanley would have been aware of the direction that the board wanted to go.

Just recently there has been a reauthorization of Every Child Succeeds Act (former No Child Left Behind), and many of the state restrictions and mandates have been lessened. Commissioner Hanley is well aware of those changes and would have worked with the board to implement fewer restrictions from the feds.

Integrity is a difficult characteristic to define, but after having worked very closely with Commissioner Hanley as a board member and as board chair for several years, I assure you that he embraces this characteristic. Sen. Dunleavy and the state board leadership, not so much.

Thank you, Mr. Wohlforth!

— Esther J. Cox

Alaska State Board of Education member 2003-2015


The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to