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Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Number of Alaska Foster Youth on the Rise
As you know, we’ve spearheaded a volunteer effort with Facing Foster Care in Alaska to get the word out that foster youth face yet another disadvantage in life. Many of them – probably most – don’t have a computer to do school work with. We want foster youth to succeed. That’s both our job as the legal guardian of Alaska’s foster youth, and the moral thing to do. So we’ve started an effort that’s matched over 350 youth with laptop computers in the past few years. Oddly, with the periodic and unjustified partisanship in politics, sometimes needed foster care reforms don’t pass. That prompted our office to reach out and start a number of volunteer efforts like this to improve the lives of foster youth, even when partisan politics stand in the way of needed reforms. Thanks to many who’ve worked with us, including Sen. Donny Olson, this year we made good progress on beginning the implementation of a state-commissioned foster youth and child abuse prevention study. I guess that’s “good” news.
The bad news is that instead of finding permanent placements for foster youth and reducing our foster youth numbers, they are spiking. In just over a year the number of youth in out of home care has increased by 200, to over 2,000 Alaskans in our foster care system. If you have a late model, fast, working laptop with a word processor and internet connectivity, or want to donate to Facing Foster Care in Alaska so they can buy computers we’ve been able to get at a discount, let us know at 269-0106, or call Amanda at Facing Foster Care in Alaska at 230-8237.
Here is today’s press release with more information, including a great story about Anna Redmon who just graduated from high school, on time, with the help of the laptop she received through this volunteer effort.
East High Progress
Until this year, East High was also the only high school in Anchorage without funding for an outdoor stadium. This year, with the help of others, I introduced and successfully passed a budget amendment for the first phase of needed funds. We’ve been working with the Anchorage School District to get these funds so students at East can be treated on equal footing with students at other high schools in Anchorage. The $1 million we appropriated will get them close to 1,700 of the 2,500 stadium seats they need, a scoreboard, and related stadium features. We’ll keep pushing for the funds needed to complete this project.I’m proud to represent students at the most ethnically diverse high school in America. That distinction was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, from research compiled by Chad Farrell, Associate Professor at UAA.
And no – these funds should never replace funds needed for teachers and educators. I voted last year to reverse a trend of harmful cuts in Anchorage the past few years, and will continue fighting on this issue. To make things worse, a GOP-passed three-year austerity plan will likely impose more than 200 teacher and educator cuts the next three years. In the coming year over 50 teaching positions will be lost before the cuts under that plan accelerate the following two years. Public education should not be a partisan issue, and I will keep trying to work across party lines to, well, stop these party line teacher and educator cuts.
I hope you’ll stay engaged. Writing letters to the editor works. And staying engaged matters. The rules for writing letters to the editor can be found in the graphics box at the top of this e-news.
As always, let us know if you have thoughts you’d like to share, or need our help.