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I have had the great pleasure of sitting on Sen. Gary Stevens’ Task Force on Civics Education, which has met for the final time and is very close to issuing a final report. The task force began meeting this past September, and since then, we have explored many practical and innovative ideas to improve upon civics education and civic engagement in the State of Alaska. I am hopeful that the findings of the task force may lead to quality resources for educators, and an invigoration of participation on the part of our communities.

The goal of “creating citizens” taken on by schools is no small task. It is so much more than reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or knowledge of American and Alaskan history; rather it is an understanding of our responsibility to society and to each other. For this reason, I believe civics education is not a burden to be borne only by our schools, but one that should be shared by all sectors of our communities. Parents, churches, non-profits, governmental organizations, professional development programs, and educators alike are all responsible for the civics education of our children. It is only when we partner with each other that we can truly achieve quality civics education.

As the work of the Task Force on Civics Education comes to a close, I would like to highlight an upcoming opportunity for your kids provided by, Beau Basset, who runs the Alaska Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute (PYLI), where he teaches leadership skills such as teamwork, creative problem solving, public speaking, and communication. Alaska PYLI encourages everyone to “Catch the Spirit” of volunteer community service. Programs such as this greatly enrich our communities. Alaska PYLI is a collaboration of youth and community organizations, volunteers, and students who promote meaningful volunteer service. The PYLI will have a leadership training March 13th-17th. Applications are due February 28th and can be found here:
I encourage kids 13-18 to participate.

In a time when our state must make difficult budgetary decisions, I continue to advocate for the protection of vital education programs, as well as for constant improvement in the quality of education in our state. No matter the circumstances, the future of our children cannot be compromised.

I’m Berta, and I’m still listening.

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