From: Ryan Kennedy (e-mail him)
Up here in Anchorage, Alaska, we are in the midst of electing the rulers of our fair northern metropolis. Up for grabs are seats on the city legislature and the school board.
In the school board race, things are going the usual way; school-board candidates backed by the teachers union give the impression that they are the only game in town, while those without such backing make do with proverbial duct-tape and baling-wire. The result is entirely predictable and the union-backed candidate almost always wins. But every now and then, a dissident candidate manages to best his union-backed opponent.
One such candidate with a man by the name of Don Smith. In 2000 he managed win a three year term on the school board but was ousted in 2013. He is now trying to fight his way back onto the school board. I think the reason Don had success against the 800 lb. gorilla that is the teachers union is that he has had electoral success at different levels of government, and so has name-recognition, and a shot at beating much better funded opponents.
In every election of significance our local public TV station hosts debates and/or interviews with all the candidates. This year Don decided to ladle out some industrial strength truth: refugees and non-white immigrants are imposing a burden on the school-district and there's not much the school board can do about it. (YouTube | Transcript) [School Board candidate: Changing ethnic makeup of students cause of school problems, By Nathaniel Herz, ADN.com, March 27, 2014]
The usual suspects are in high dudgeon. But of course everything he says is true. [Group Questions School Board Candidate’s Comments on Refugees, By Chris Klint, KTUU.com, Mar 28, 2014]
There has been a perceptible rise in the population of refugees here in Anchorage. You see immigrants in Anchorage that you never used to see as recently as ten years ago; Africans with skin as dark as the blackest coal (sometimes they even have primitive tribal scarring on their faces and hands), Somalis in their hijabs, Nepalis wearing saris.
Of course, these refugees and other exotic immigrants come with little in way of the skills, habits and family needed to succeed here. Recently, the school district budget was significantly cut due to declining state aid. During these cuts, school advocates would often point out that, due to Anchorage's increasingly non-white and/or immigrant demographics, Anchorage school could ill-afford such cuts lest these vulnerable populations sink in some kind of underclass. [ASD Cuts Impact English Language Learners, By Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage, August 28, 2013 ]
Advocates of schools have specifically mentioned Anchorage's increasingly non-white and immigrant demographics and warned that such cuts risk leaving these kids in some kind of track in retarded development.
Such arguments leave me rather perplexed.
On one hand, refugee-resettlement honchos and their supporters tell us how their charges make Anchorage a strong and vibrant city; while school-boosters tell us how these people need all kinds of extra help. It's all so confusing!
It should be interesting to see the results on April 1st.
Just a dispatch from a far-flung outpost in America's immigration debacle!