Alaska students stage statewide walkout to protest education funding veto

Eagle River High School students protest Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s education funding veto on Thursday, April 4, 2024. (James Oh / Alaska Public Media)

High school students across Alaska walked out of class Thursday morning to protest Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s veto of a bipartisan education funding bill on March 14 and the Legislature’s subsequent failure to override the veto.

The walkout included students from more than two dozen schools, from Anchorage, Interior, Southeast and Southwest Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna and Northwest Arctic boroughs, to the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island. They didn’t return to class for 40 minutes, in a nod to the 40 legislators needed to override Dunleavy’s veto.

At Eagle River High School, a light snow fell on the 100-plus students who met at the flagpole for the protest.

“We’re hoping that everyone in Alaska hears loud and clear that students care about their education, and we want the student-based allocation to be raised,” said Caitlin Corbett, a senior at Eagle River who also serves as the treasurer for the Alaska Association of Student Governments Executive Board, which organized the protest.

The Base Student Allocation is the per-student funding formula used to determine how much money schools get from the state. It has not been increased significantly since 2017. A $680 increase to the BSA was included in Senate Bill 140, which Dunleavy vetoed in March. That was after he vetoed $175 million in one-time funding for schools passed last year, which the Legislature also failed to override.

In an emailed statement on Thursday’s school walkouts, Dunleavy said that he supports and encourages all Alaskans to exercise their First Amendment rights and that he supports an increase to the Base Student Allocation.

“That money alone will not improve Alaska’s educational outcomes,” Dunleavy wrote. “Our public schools need educational reform legislation.”

Students walkout to protest Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s education funding veto on Thursday, April 4, 2024. (James Oh / Alaska Public Media)

Student protestors wore red to signify their support for increased funding for schools across the state. State Board of Education and Early Development Student Representative Felix Myers said he got the idea from a similar protest last year when students in the Mat-Su walked out of class to protest their local school board. The students organized Thursday morning’s statewide protest on social media, Myers said.

“As student leaders attempting to engage students with no assistance from adults, meeting students where we knew they would see our message was essential,” Myers said in an email. “I am incredibly proud of the results and was inspired by the protests and signs and red worn across the state.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers’ efforts to boost education funding continue. Anchorage Republican Rep. Tom McKay introduced a bill similar to the one Dunleavy vetoed, which has not yet moved out of the House Education Committee. State senators say there’s little room left for compromise, but a $680 per-student increase is included in the most recent draft of the state’s operating budget, currently pending in the House.

Tim Rockey is the producer of Alaska News Nightly and covers education for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at or 907-550-8487. Read more about Tim here

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