Word just leaked that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (NGA bio) has been tapped by John McCain to be his vice presidential running mate. Certainly his choice is not an attempt to nail down Alaska’s vote in the Electoral College. It is an obvious attempt to appeal to independent women voters (and any Clinton supporters Obama didn’t win over at the Democratic Convention) and to counter Obama’s youth and dynamism. How Palin will face up to Joe Biden in the VP debate is another question.
Here is an initial look into Palin’s education record in a year-and-a-half as Alaska Governor.
(1) In her 2008 State of the State Address she had this to say:
Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” It’s a privileged obligation we have to “open education doors.” … Stepping through “the door” is about more than passing a standardized test. We need kids prepared to pass life’s tests – like getting a job and valuing a strong work ethic. Our Three-year Education Plan invests more than a billion dollars each year. We must forward-fund education, letting schools plan ahead. We must stop pink-slipping teachers, and then struggle to recruit and retain them the next year.
We will enable schools to finally focus on innovation and accountability to see superior results. We’re asking lawmakers to pass a new K-12 funding plan early this year. This is a significant investment that is needed to increase the base student allocation, district cost factors and intensive needs students. It includes $100 million in school construction and deferred maintenance. There is awesome potential to improve education, respect good teachers, and embrace choice for parents. This potential will prime Alaska to compete in a global economy that is so competitive it will blow us away if we are not prepared. Beyond high school, we will boost job training and University options. We are proposing more than $10 million in new funding for apprenticeship programs, expansion of construction, engineering and health care degrees to meet demands. But it must be about more than funds, it must be a change in philosophy. It is time to shift focus, from just dollars and cents to “caliyulriit,” which is Yupik for “people who want to work.” Work for pride in supporting our families, in and out of the home. Work for purpose and for action, and ultimately destiny fulfilled by being fruitful. It’s about results and getting kids excited about their future – whether it is college, trade school or military.
(2) In her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, her education platform included:
A. Schools of Choice
B. Expanded Vocational Training Opportunities
D. Competitive Teacher Salaries & Benefits
(3) Palin has been a strong supporter of the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project. The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development created the Project in partnership with the University of Alaska in support of their shared mission to improve academic achievement for students in Alaska. Through mentoring for beginning teachers, the goals of the program are to increase teacher retention and increase student achievement. The model is adapted from the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Prior to being elected Governor in 2006, Palin had served four years on a city council and six years as a mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a city of 6,000 people.