Statement to the Board Requesting Appointment

First and foremost, service to the community is a value I hold in high regard. I see a tremendous need for community participation in Anchorage, no more so than in District affairs. I have tried to step up to the opportunities to serve that have been presented to me and this Board Seat presents just such an opportunity. Education is critical to our future, and service to the community in the field of education is something that has always been an important focus for me and my entire family.

With my broad professional and community background I can bring perspective to the Board and District, perspective that I think is very necessary at this juncture. The District is facing technical, legal, instructional and financial challenges that are increasingly complex, and inter-disciplinary experience in the areas of these hurdles will be important to our future success.

I have served as an IT professional working in the private and public sectors and have worked in-District in technology and instruction. I created the ASD IT budget review team wiki site, the first time that a budget review team has used technology to make its deliberations and concerns transparent to the community. One of the suggestions coming out of the team's work was that ASD would be well-served by either continuation of the team or the creation of an IT review team peopled with community professionals (a recommendation also made in prior years). ASD has chosen not to pursue that suggestion, and that raises concerns that the problems that the team saw (and were confirmed by others) may well continue to plague the District.

As a legal professional recognized by the Courts as an expert in Special Education law and involved in addressing education policy over many years I am fully aware of the circumstances in which ASD has not complied with state law as well as the real legal challenges that face us. I have successfully litigated against the District as well as argued on behalf of the District on some issues and for many years ran akceptionalities.org, a web site focusing on the needs of Alaska's "exceptional" students, those requiring incremental services. I am saddened that, to date, ASD appears to have refused to acknowledge it's deficiencies, and real progress towards addressing success can only come when one embraces one's issues.

As a teacher who has worked in District I am aware of not only the conditions in our schools, but the treatment of staff and student by the District. From technology to curriculum I have been "in the trenches" in numerous schools, providing me with a perspective that frankly is unavailable to many. As a post secondary educator I've taught the the students graduated by the District as well as their teachers. I currently teach a course in Moodle, software that ASD has finally adopted, and support Moodle users internationally in Moodle forums as well as Moodle users locally through the Alaska Moodle Project. I have tirelessly supported individual teachers with technology, curriculum and other resources and as a result am all too often the "go to" person when teachers who know me need support.

My spouse is a proud member of NEA-Alaska and we have supported NEA-Alaska for many years, though I don't always agree with the union's (or its local affiliate's) positions. I do believe that we need to attract and keep qualified teachers, and critical to that will be reducing class sizes, keeping pay (including benefits) competitive, and fixing a retirement system that was broken by our legislature. By the same token I have advocated for quite a few years that ASD require all teachers to publish their CV's including certification and HQ status, a recommendation easily implemented but rejected by the current administration. I think there are some rather unrealistic expectations of our teaching staff, who make an easy target for those unsatisfied with our institutional product. AkDEED has dropped the ball on addressing teacher qualifications, and ASD must step up to face this problem.

As a community member I have participated in the budget review team process in every cycle since that process was deployed by Bob Christal some 12 years ago. I have developed recreational groups that adopted parks, worked with recreational groups to pursue partnerships, and spent countless hours maintaining parks. Together with Rodney Clark I started the Nunaka-Cheney Lake Community Council in an attempt to democratize council membership in the north east. have supported community children as a soccer coach and as a coach for high school programs, both in athletics and in robotics. I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of Anchorage Neighborhood Health and the Alaska Robotics Education Association.

As a parent, I have seen both my children graduate from ASD. One has now graduated college and another is in his Sophomore year. While much of their success can be attributed to some of their teachers, the experience,as I think most parents would agree, has been a uniformly positive one. I share the frustration of so many of our parents, especially as my children are "exceptional". I am amazed, considering how often I hear ASD announce how much it wants parents to be involved, how often I hear parents talk about how they were pushed away from their community schools because they were not happy with what they were seeing. That is certainly not the message we want to be conveying. ASD needs to do a better job, but to be more productive we need effective educational leadership, and in so many cases I think that is ASD's biggest challenge for the future.

I want to see ASD be open, honest and forthright about the issues facing it, and I think that ASD has fallen short in this regard. We are facing a reputation for being unable to provide an effective education for our children and as I suggested above, rather than embracing our challenges we too often seem to be denying them. We seem to be so busy focusing on the "positive" that we stop being analytical, in part perhaps because today, though we claim we want our students to be critical thinkers, offering criticism all too often results in one being identified as "radiating negative energy". This polarization results in marginalization of much of the community and rejection of the "out of the box" thinking that we say we want.

I want to see our schools move forward and to do that I think we need to have our hearts, minds, ears and eyes open. I believe I can help the community maintain confidence in the administration by ensuring that the community hears and is heard. My professional background is such that I have the ability to be critical and my community service evidences my commitment to our children and their success.

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