Home News Roundup News Roundup: January 31, 2014

News Roundup: January 31, 2014

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On Growing Alaskans

LEGO robots ruled the gymnasium at South Anchorage High School last weekend as 500 4th – 8th graders competed in the Anchorage Robot Rendezvous showing the positive and amazing things kids can do when passion, dedicated mentors, technology and fun get together.

About 65 people showed up for the Alaska Policy Forum’s meeting about education in Alaska. This will be a big year in Juneau as lawmakers consider drastic changes in how we fund and educate our kids. You can bet on more boisterous discussion and skewed opinions rearing up throughout the session. Caveat Emptor.

Catching the ear of The Nation, the Anchorage School District recently announced the layoff of 219 positions. The steady decline of education funds, which just “happen” to coincide with many more tax breaks for Alaska’s revenue streams mean a lot of tough choices will need to be made. Says Andy Holleman, “One of their choices over the past four years has been to sideline education. As the legislature convenes in an election year, we are not powerless in this fight, but it will be a fight.” Put up your dukes, Alaska.

Yes – Put up your dukes. Because right now, Alaska sits smack in the middle between the best and the worst state according to data compiled by Politico Magazine. We could  be optimists and say we’re better than half the country. But I’d rather be a realist and recognize there is a lot of room to grow UP.

On Alaskan’s Rights

Senator Begich doesn’t believe recent legislation introduced to strengthen the Voting Rights Act goes far enough to protect minorities. Concerned about how changes will effect Alaska Natives, who have historically faced many challenges trying to exercise their right to vote, he plans to write an amendment to address these concerns. Good job Mark.

On Tuesday, Juneau lawmakers discussed a  bill that would allow Village Public Safety Officers, to carry weapons while on duty. VPSO’s are usually the first responders in many a rural Alaskan village. Proponents argue they need to be able to be armed for protection in dangerous situations. The dissenting arguments stresses these volunteers are not put through the rigorous weapons and situational training required of Alaska State Troopers. Tough call either way.

On Alaskan Dogs… Eeew

Ticks. In Alaska. Just no. Invasive ticks are showing up in Alaska. This Alaska Commoner may need to mover further north.

Not Necessarily Local 

In a Utah school, school authorities seized and threw away the lunches of 40 students whose parents had let their accounts get too far behind. People later apologized and suggested it could have been handled better. You think?

In good news: Libraries have always been the repository of intelligence and a conduit for learning. A downtown Chicago library is granting its patrons access to the tools of creation as well. Maker Lab allows folks to come in, learn new creative skills and actually make really cool things. This trend is spreading.