Andrew Halcro calls education task force a ‘charade’

Former Anchorage legislator Andrew Halcro, who has never been known to mince words, took his disagreements with the education task force, of which he is a member, to Facebook on Friday. He called the task force, a “poorly organized charade,” and said that the only intention of the group was to “weaken education.”

The Alaska House of Representatives’ Sustainable Education Task Force has been meeting for four months to come up with education funding and other recommendations to bring to the governor and the Legislature, which is scheduled to convene on Jan. 21. It was comprised of Halcro, four other community members and three Republican House members: Tammie Wilson of Fairbanks, Lynn Gattis of Wasilla and Charisse Millett of Anchorage.

Halcro is the president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Among the other public members were lawyer and oil and gas consultant Brad Keithley, who has been talking about running for governor on a fiscal conservative platform.

The overall conclusion was that the state was going to have to cut education funding. Halcro, however, disagreed.

Here’s Halcro’s Facebook post in full:

“The truth is that this task force was never intended to reach any other conclusion than to weaken education. Ironically, all of the recommendations reached would require additional funds, which the committee then said we couldn’t afford to make. This was a four month, poorly organized charade. Out of the eight committee members, only two of us actually have a direct role in hiring graduates. The rest of the committee was comprised of a former educator who after 28 years in the system had no productive ideas on how to improve education, a lawyer who has only been registered to vote in Alaska for the last three years and as far as I can tell has no experience in hiring graduates…and three current lawmakers who by their own admission have spent us into deficits. A four month charade.”

  • The group urged the state to begin thinking about the following:
  • Invest in technology that is compatible with local infrastructure.
  • Establish regional residential education centers to enhance secondary education.
  • Expand public choice in education opportunities to include: boarding, charter, virtual, homeschool and neighborhood schools.
  • Evaluate the current level of facility cost sharing between the state and localities. Consistent with local control, increased local contribution may not only be necessary but a better way to ensure that facilities are built and maintained efficiently.
  • Standardize school facilities, with the goal of reducing overall construction and maintenance costs using “recognized best practices.”
  • Analyze the potential benefit of school district consolidation and shared services between school districts and other entities.
  • Review and eliminate unnecessary regulations.

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4 thoughts on “Andrew Halcro calls education task force a ‘charade’

  1. Dianne

    Why is it called the Alaska House of Representatives’ Sustainable Education Task Force when everyone on it is a republican. Shouldn’t it be called “The Republican Sustainable Education Task Force” if we are interested in some transparency?

    Also, is this the same one that David Nees is on? If so, he has proven again and again by his comments on Facebook that he is anti-education.

  2. Lynn Willis

    I share Halcro’s opinion. Can you imagine the monetary and social costs associated with implementing these recommendations? Is the “expand public choice” suggestion simply code for the state to create a voucher system to channel public funds to non-public schools? Please consider if these legislators are seriously proposing that Anchorage children be sent to fill state run boarding high schools in say Bethel and Kotzebue in order to fill all vacancies for maximum benefit to the state? They might have looked at the Molly Hooch decision before they came up with that “regional school” idea. ( )

    The Alaska Constitution creates a huge financial obligation for the state regarding education and other services. First Article 7, Section 1 mandates that; ” The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to the all the children of Alaska.” Next Article 10, Section 6 states: “The legislature shall provide for the performance of services it deems necessary or advisable in the unorganized boroughs allowing for maximum local participation and responsibility. It may exercise any power or function in an unorganized borough which the assembly may exercise in an organized borough”.

    This “ward of the state” paradigm absolutely contributes no motivation to create regional economies that could provide a tax base for government services including education.

    Regarding the suggestion to “increase local contribution”, already the burden to pay for schools has been foisted onto the organized boroughs. Currently 48% of property tax revenue in Anchorage goes to schools. That selective burden on the organized boroughs is being resisted- not universally accepted. Ketchikan is currently suing to ease that burden on local taxpayers by returning the obligation to the state. Just think what the Municipality of Anchorage could do with that 48% of tax revenue (tennis anyone).

  3. Tim

    Your article was balanced, reasonable and most of all concise. Compared to other articles published on this topic, you are heads and shoulders above your competition. Pat Forgey’s article went on adnauseum and appeared to include either trumped up data points to support his perspective or whatever. The Dispatch is poorly served with his stories which are usually inaccurate, not to mention poorly written. I like your perspective, writing and style. I’m still not sure what to think of all the work this task force did. I don’t quite buy Halcro’s position but doubt that the task force really accomplished anything meaningful. So government task forces ever really accomplish anything ?

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