I started my day chatting with Dirk SIsson at Great Harvest about community park issues and ended it twelves hours later talking with Basilio Gallo at the Hacienda about what the small businessman in Anchorage might expect in the upcoming year. Despite the apparent differences between these two men, I think the real story is in what they share. These are hard working guys with soft hearts. They are devoted to family, friends, employees and community. Despite differences in backgrounds, culture, politics, religion, etc. my guess if you asked either of them about what's really important, their answers would be strikingly similar. These guys are the Americans I think we all want to be.

During the span of that half day I had the opportunity to listen to Board President Jeff Friedman argue that while it is easy to be an arm chair critic, when you are faced with having to make decisions that comply with state law like th Board has to, its not quite so easy. Jeff's a nice guy and I agree with him to a point; we DON'T need a Board member whose running on the strength of what they may at some distant point in the future may be able to do. What pained me was the suggestion that the Board complies with the law, when Jeff has been presented with facts that demonstrate the contrary is true. As I have mentioned before (http://grober.asdk12.info/node/12), the law says that ASD will ensure that teacher of all core subjects are highly qualified to teach those subject, and almost a third of Anchorage teachers are still, years after the law went into effect (yes, years).not recognized as legal to teach their class.

And then Jeff dropped a bombshell. He told the North East Community Counsel that attorneys for the District and the State had shared the opinion that ASD's use of teachers who were not highly qualified was not a violation of the law. I have repeatedly requested any and all documents from the District, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and the State Department of Law that in any way suggests that Anchorage's conduct is lawful and, amazingly enough, no one has been able to locate such a document. PERIOD.

Wow! Is Jeff just lying to the public? As a member of the Alaska Bar, a public official, and an apparent nice guy, we would certainly have to assume that was not the case. But if not, either we have to assume that there is a multi-agency conspiracy in place to keep the public from the knowledge that many of their children's teachers are in the classroom illegally or this nonsense was invented by ASD administrators (who also argue that if AKDEED doesn't force ASD to stop doing something, it must therefore be legal - the fallacy in that bit later). Moreover, Jeff would have to be repeating this drivel without having lifted a pinky to vet the claim.

Is the bit about the agency conspiracy really that whacked? While Karen Rehfeld, lifetime Alaska bureaucrat now carrying water for Governor Palin's refusal of stimulus funds for education as head of OMB, was Deputy Commissioner of Education and Early Development she actually stated that AKDEED is not in any responsible for ensuring compliance with Alaska education law by Alaska school Districts. If that doesn't give you cause to panic, perhaps nothing will. Meanwhile, over at the Professional Teaching Practices Commission the Commission simply voted to refuse to consider whether violation of this regulation and argument that a District was not in violation of the law ran counter to the half dozen different code provisions identified. Maybe ASD is simply taking advantage of the Anchorage way; anything you do is legal unless you are forced to stop? Has it really come to that?

What I really find distressing, though, is that while folk like Dirk and Basilio are working hard to make Anchorage a better place, our School Board is hard at work covering up the fact that it is fairly likely that your child's teacher can't demonstrate mastery of the subject he or she is supposed to be teaching. At least if you buy a car you have the benefit of the Lemon Law! Shouldn't the people of Anchorage be entitled to expect that teachers meet state criteria? Shouldn't our Board tell us that a third of our teachers shouldn't be in a classroom? DO we need a Lemon Law fo elected officials?

No, I didn't catch a glimpse of Kiefer Sutherland anywhere and I called it quits at 12 ( going to have to leave the full 24 to Hollywood) but I still think there was plenty of action and as far as I am concerned, a couple of real heroes; Americans with honest souls, with truth on their lips and love in their hearts. I think it was worthwhile tuning in, and I invite you to do likewise.

This communication was paid for by Marc Grober, 5610 Radcliff Dr. Anchorage, AK 99504