Shari O. Alaska

Education Shmoney

The decline of funding for education has become a serious problem in America.

Dear future president,

I live in a rural community in the heart of Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, on the coast of Alaska. While commercial fishing grosses almost 390 million dollars annually for fishermen and fish processing plant owners alike, the public education that my fellow students and I receive does not reflect the amount of money that trades hands in Bristol Bay.

Living in a rural community in the heart of Alaska’s, and the United States’, largest commercial salmon fishing industry, I continuously am exposed to commercial fishing throughout the entire year. Commercial fishing has been a part of my life since I was born.

Growing up in a rural community has its own ups and downs. Some of the pros include: a close community, work experience from a young age, and a valuable relationship with teachers. Some of the cons of living in a rural community include small schools, limited jobs for teens, and most importantly a lack of funding for public schools. Although most of the pros outweigh the cons, we cannot ignore the lack of funding for public education. In the small town that I come from there are only 2,500 year-round residents, meaning a very small pool of tax-payer money to fund the only high school, and one of only two middle schools in the area.

In the last year, according to Alaska Dispatch News, 17.5 million dollars of state funding was cut from services that are essential to student life, such as transportation, school grants, and pupil allocation. In a community with an already low population leading to restricted tax-payer funding, a cut in public education funding can only lead to detrimental consequences for people attending public school, like myself. If only a mere fraction of the 390 million dollars grossed annually was taxed to be used for public education this gap would be filled.

In my school the lack of money is evident, as demonstrated by lack of books, lack of supplies, and lack of teachers. When I walk into my English class, there are not enough books, the same applies to my math class. In a Calculus class with nine students, only six students have math books. Teachers use their limited class funding to buy toner for their classroom printers, something that the district cannot afford to supply. This lack of funding can also be noticed in terms of positions at my school, with two teachers being let go at the end of last year because of budget cuts. These budget cuts have increased class size, while decreasing class supplies. These cuts and lack of funding do not mirror the amount of money being grossed in Bristol Bay.

To close, the funding allotted to public education in my area is not proportional to the amount of money made from commercial fishing. I implore you to consider what I have written, and how these budget cuts affect my education, and my future.

Sincerely, Shari