We had a great day in Anchorage yesterday, our first of three days in Alaska to gather input as part of the “Listening and Learning” education reform tour.
Our first stop, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, was much more than a visit to a museum. We saw children and adults learning about Alaskan history, native dances and sports, and more. We watched women making coats by hand. We saw subterranean homes. Student and adult guides explained how the homes were made and described unique design features, including the narrow tunneled entrances, which keep out polar bears. We saw whale bones and heard about salmon runs and the many types of fish (red, silver, pink salmon, kingfish, halibut, others). One of the student guides said his father caught a 97-pound salmon this year. He said his family hauled in 128 salmon on a recent fishing trip. This should last them one month this winter.
At our second stop, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Senators Murkowski and Begich joined Arne for the listening and learning event. More than 50 people attended — teachers, state department of education and university of Alaska officials, parents, and media. In his opening remarks, Arne announced the three-year $1.2 million grant to Anchorage public schools to help reduce the dropout rate and prepare students for college and careers. There were many good questions. Afterward, Arne and ED chief of staff Margot Rogers met with Governor Sean Parnell.
Arne seemed to accomplish everything he wanted on the first day in Alaska, except seeing a moose. But maybe in Hooper Bay today.