We must ask more from the governor’s tepid education plan. I became frustrated when I saw him parade a Harvard report on charter schools and the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. The governor touted the outcomes of this ANCCS as a token of all charter schools, but he failed to celebrate what makes them (or other school communities) great.
I encourage Dunleavy to consult a report from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition to look deeper into what makes schools exceptional. According to that report, ANCCS has met these two outcomes excellently:
• Community relationships: The families, communities, and tribes wrap around the school to support all students. The school is far more than a school — it is a community hub.
• Cultural teachings: ANCCS has a mission of Yuuyaraq (from the Yugtun language, meaning “The Way of Being”). The ANCCS staff invests extensive energy and resources into building this into their practice as a school.
Instead of the Harvard report’s focus on exceptional outputs, we should focus on the NUIFC and other frameworks on how to build our school communities. The governor’s education plan must ensure that all schools have our high investment in cultivating community relationships and expanding their cultural proficiency.
— Paul McDonogh
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