Hilts: Our children should be No. 1 priority

The children of Alaska should be our top priority, their health, safety, education and their future. As stakeholders in our state we are responsible for meeting these needs. None of them are optional, and I am sure we all agree that these are necessities for our children, especially if it is for the children of our families, our communities and even our school district. 

I would go a step further and say that I believe we will all benefit if every child in the state becomes “ours.” 

Although, as a current and potential member of the board of education in this borough, my responsibilities are centered here on the Kenai Peninsula, I know that we need a healthy economy, safer environments and better education throughout our state if we in Seward, Homer, Moose Pass, Kachemak Selo and the other communities are to meet the potential that is there, just beyond our reach.  

We strive to be the best school district in the state. To reach that goal, we need to have the best educational system available throughout Alaska, not just in our borough. We are necessarily tied to every other area of our state through funding, economy, population movement, communications, services and just being “Alaskan.” 

We need to remind our elected representatives, whether it be a state legislator, the governor or a school board member, that everyone benefits when we provide a quality education for our own future leaders, medical personnel, technology gurus, cashiers, plumbers, teachers, parents, roustabouts, journalists, farmers and all the infinite positions that could be earned by Alaskans. Instead of filling more than 2,000 retail positions with non-residents, we could encourage more partnerships with companies to teach necessary skills, particularly “soft” skills that would enhance the employability of our graduates.  We could coordinate our career/tech curriculum with industries to prepare students for technological and professional jobs that we are now filling with another 2,000 plus non-residents. Not all of these jobs would go to Alaskans, but certainly many more than our current labor force.  

I believe we need to offer a much more unified education that begins with voluntary pre-kindergarten classes right through our university system.  

Let’s think big. We are a huge state, with potential to match. I want to be part of making this happen. I want to work with all of those who care: parents, families, communities, tribal entities, faith-based programs, charter schools, brick and mortar schools, home schools and secondary programs of all kinds.  I believe in our state. I believe children should be the top priority of this state.