More local teachers demanded at latest joint education meeting
February 15th, 2011 | Alaska Newspapers Staff
Barrow - On Feb. 4, the North Slope Borough Assembly and Board of Education held their annual joint meeting at the Iñupiaq Heritage Center on specific areas of mutual interest, a press release from the NSB school district said.
Members of the Assembly and the Board expressed their strong and sustained support for education of students across the North Slope.
Elder Wesley Aiken began the meeting by noting that "We have been raised up in the toughest place on earth, with storms and hard times, and good times. We are happy our government and school district are run locally. We never expected to see such schools, roads and clinics while we are growing up. Today, things are running properly and are well organized. We need to keep it going."
Assembly President Eugene Brower recalled the history of the Borough and added, "Our leaders have had education as the highest priority."
Board President Debby Edwardson stated, "When the people of the North Slope come together, they can accomplish anything."
Mayor Itta noted that he was looking forward to the agenda and that, "We are trying to better our way of life. My father never thought these days would come. We are so fortunate to know each other and work together."
Superintendent Peggy Cowan assured the members of both Boards and Honorable Mayor Itta that the District is accountable to state and national measures of assessment and accountable to learning the Iñupiaq language, as part of its partnership with the community.
The school district is accountable to the Board and the people of the North Slope for the District's Mission. The North Slope Borough School District Mission Statement was read, as follows: "Learning in our schools is rooted in the values, history and language of the Inupiat. Students develop the academic and cultural skills and knowledge to be: Critical and creative thinkers able to adapt in a changing environment and world; Active, responsible, contributing members of their communities; and confident, healthy young adults, able to envision, plan and take control of their destiny."
Assembly member Mike Aamodt noted that more work needed to be done to develop local, native teachers. John Hopson called for the joint meeting to include Ilisagvik College. Adeline Hopson added that she too wanted local teachers.
Fenton Rexford requested that the charter and ordinances regarding education be reviewed and updated. Deano Olemaun recalled the foresight of our forefathers and foremothers in setting up our home rule government, and that for the need to stay true to our culture.
Board member Arnold Brower expressed concerns with the limited ability to lobby the Legislature on rural issues, and that the foundation formula was designed for Anchorage.
Mary Sage added that as to local teachers, it is hard to compete for talent with salaries of Native corporations.
Eva Kinneeveauk discussed technology and its role in modern education.
Anna Nageak stated, "We've come a long way, and that nothing should stop us from where we are going."
Roy Nageak recalled, "Even with our differences, our elders taught us that survival was in working together."
He added that a historical moment occurred with the BIA schools when local control was asserted - "We don't work for you, you work for us!"
The District was able to share concrete actions steps taken by the School District in the areas of Accountability and Student Achievement. State test scores have increased in reading and math and are flat in writing.
From a strategic perspective, Curriculum Mapping and Alignment and the Iñupiaq Learning Framework, and Partnerships for Students K-12 help improve students' academic performance across the District. Background was provided on the District's financial stewardship regarding cash reserve.
Through this joint meeting, the School Board and administration expressed appreciation for the North Slope Borough Assembly's unwavering financial support and the Assembly's help with the School Board in reaching the vision of local control in education set forth by Eben Hopson, founder of the North Slope Borough Municipality.