Senator Berta Gardner

April 12, 2013

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 417
Juneau, AK 99801
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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A Spot of Good News

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Our beautiful Capitol Building
Our beautiful Capitol Building

Today the Senate Education Committee passed out legislation related largely to funding issues for the Alaska Military Youth Academy. This is a really wonderful and highly successful, quasi-military program which focuses on “saving” high school dropouts.

The academy is currently funded at seven times the Base Student Allocation. If the legislation is signed into law, funding will be directly through the Department of Education and Early Development and is expected to be higher and will allow for expansion to serve more students.

In addition to changing the name from “Alaska Challenge Youth Academy,” to the “Alaska Military Youth Academy,” the bill’s new funding mechanism allows the Department of Education to make a case for funding the school based on results, not formula. This is important because the Academy isn’t about just grades. It’s about keeping students from continuing down their wrong paths; General Katkus said it best during testimony, “Youth at risk is a challenge to national security.” With a ratio of 90 adults for just over 200 students, the program is not cheap, but given that the students are already high school drop-outs, seriously at risk for criminal behavior, and of being a drain on the state, we have to consider the price of failing to address their educational and even social developmental needs.

The program focuses on breaking bad habits, creating new ones and fostering successes large and small. For many people who’ve never experienced success, academic or otherwise, this effort can go a long way towards rehabilitation and healthy development. The 74% graduation rate is truly a source of pride. Furthermore, the Academy uses mentors to follow students for a full year after graduation and they do not count their program a success for any student unless the student is continuing his or her education/vocational training, working or in the military a year after graduation.

There are lots of bills moving through the legislature as we near the end of session. This is one example of a proposal which I consider good news.

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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