ANCHORAGE: School Board candidate Don Smith went on a racist tirade in an interview with APRN, saying that Anchorage’s diverse student body “clearly is causing problems,” and Smith lamented that “we can’t tell all these people to go back to Indonesia or Africa or whatever country they came from.”
“Don Smith’s racist comments have no place in a diverse, inclusive community like ours,” said Anchorage NAACP 1st Vice President Kevin McGee.
In the interview, APRN’s Daysha Eaton asked Don Smith what was responsible for the school district’s rising graduation rate and declining dropout rate—trends that clearly are positive. Don Smith ignored that, and said:
When I was in Anchorage High School it was about 98% white students…today we’re 48% white 52% other and that’s clearly is causing problems. I think our numbers are dropping because we’re importing all these people that aren’t up to the standards that we had set for the school. Consequently it has drawn us downward not upward.
“Don Smith’s comments are very offensive, ignorant and extremely racist. He wants to be placed in a position responsible for making decisions regarding our children and school system is highly disturbing on so many levels. Anchorage deserves much better,” said Anchorage NAACP President, Wanda V. Laws
Daysha Eaton pointed out that actually the graduation was improving—not declining—and asked Don Smith how that was consistent with his previous comment. Smith said:
We might be in a lucky period…it may be an anomaly. There’s a big push trying to take care of these new people coming to Anchorage…kids that were special needs, people that were from another country.
Smith then complained that it would be impractical to deport non-white Anchorage residents, stating:
We can’t tell all these people to go back to Indonesia or Africa or whatever country they’re from….We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place…Somebody has allowed us to be a refugee city.
Daysha Eaton asked if some students’ challenges might be related to hunger and socioeconomic challenges. Of child hunger, Smith said:
In some ways I think they’re overreacting.
East Anchorage Assembly candidate Pete Petersen came out against Smith’s comments today, saying, “I was shocked and appalled to hear these hateful remarks. I am proud that our schools in East Anchorage are some of the most diverse in the nation, and Smith owes an apology to the Eastside students he insulted. I challenge Mr. Smith to visit East, visit Bartlett, visit Muldoon Elementary and see how students from all different backgrounds are thriving in East Anchorage schools.”