Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced bills Tuesday to incentivize teachers in Alaska and give parents rights in school discussions on sexual and gender education.
Dunleavy stood with students, parents, teachers, administrators and officials as he made the announcement during a Tuesday news conference.
“We’re doing this for the kids,” he said.
PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION
Dunleavy said his bill on Parental Rights in Education ensures two-way communication between teachers and parents.
Sex and gender education are issues of family values, Dunleavy said, and parents need to have a say in whether kids participate in these discussions or not.
The bill requires parents to opt-in and provide written permission for children to participate in activities, classes or programs on sex education and gender. It also requires written permission from a parent for teachers and administrators of public schools to address the child with a different name or pronoun.
The bill prohibits sexual education in schools before the fourth grade. Dunleavy said that he thinks its crucial to focus on reading and math before the fourth grade and that sex and gender education can be taught at home.
The bill mandates that school districts include procedures addressing safety and privacy in locker rooms and restrooms by separating those facilities by biological sex and providing single-occupant bathrooms. Dunleavy called the approach “pro-parent,” saying it allows parents to be part of the discussion on what education their children receive.
“Parents are not the enemy. Kids are a good thing. Families are a good thing. Teachers are not the enemy,” Dunleavy said.
TEACHER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION INCENTIVE BILL
Dunleavy also announced a program that provides cash incentives for full-time teachers assigned to classroom teaching based on the location of their school district. Dunleavy said he heard from teachers that more resources for them to deal with the high costs of living in Alaska would be beneficial.
Remote and rural schools earn the highest tier payments with an incentive of $15,000. The $10,000 tier is for rural schools linked to urban networks and the $5,000 tier is for teachers in urban areas. Teachers will receive a payment around July 1, 2024, July 1, 2025, and July 2, 2026, after teaching for the entirety of a school term.
Dunleavy said he expects it will cost $131,000 to set up the program and $58 million to sustain the program over three years.
Focus groups and a follow up study will be conducted to see if it is effective to recruit and retain teachers.
Dunleavy proposed an additional $17 million to the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) for the Alaska Reads Act, alternatives to teacher licensure training, career and technical training grants, Alaska Resource Education and the Alaska Native STEM Program.
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