Edgar Blatchford

Age: 70

Family: Brother

Occupation: University of Alaska Anchorage Associate Professor

Previous government experience or community involvement: Mayor and council member of Seward, twice cabinet officer in the administration of Gov. Hickel and Gov. Murkowski (Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs and Commissioner of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development). I have also served on numerous boards and commissions from the board of directors of the Alaska Airmen, board of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, board of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, board of the Alaska Railroad Corporation, and many others.

Highest level of education: Juris Doctor and Ph.D.

What is the latest book you’ve read? Or, what book do you recommend and why?: I am reading a book on economics. I recommend books on the fast changing world, and books on why Alaska and the country can’t do it alone.

Why are you running?

To work with the teachers and parents in the best interests of the students by delivering policies and procedures that will ensure the highest quality of education. I believe in diversity on the board and in the classroom that clearly reflect the growing diversity of the Municipality of Anchorage. I believe in fairness, equality and justice for every student, every family and every member of the greater community.

What is the role of the school board as it relates to the school superintendent and the operation of the district?

The board’s primary responsibilities are to develop policies and procedures for the school district and to hire and fire the superintendent. The operation of the district has a overriding obligation to be fair and justice all affiliated with the district within the greater community.

Do you support public money funding education in public schools? (Yes-No) Why?

I believe the greater community has an obligation to fund high quality education that will prepare our children for the wonderful opportunities to contribute the high quality of life we all aspire to.

Do you have children in Anchorage public schools now? How did they handle pandemic virtual learning? If they attended in the past, how was that experience?

No. As a reference point, my position as a professor for the past 25 years at UAA entered a new phase with the students. Exactly a year ago, UAA closed classroom teaching and went to multi-media because of the pandemic. I must admit it was a trying time for teachers and students. All of us had to get up to speed almost immediately. I think, while many students were initially disappointed, we are near the end of this tragic period. I believe we made the best of the situation. All of us became more media efficient in delivery of education.

Can the ASD continue to afford so many different schools of choice? Could these many options be a distraction from the mission of excellence for all students?

With 43,000 +/- students, we should offer choices. If our students are going to be prepared to lead the community and the state, then they must be well-educated to seize the challenges and opportunities globally – after higher education, vocational training or service in the military. Today, local education means preparing our students for global opportunities just as other states and countries are doing. Our competition for good jobs and professions is not just local but world-wide. That means it is our obligation is to be diverse with options and classes. It is an issue of challenges and accommodation. All of this must be based on the growing diversity of our community. After all, we’re in this together.

What ideas do you have to incentivize the best and brightest teachers to come to this district and do great work? What ideas do you have to encourage teacher longevity?

Our social, economic and financial foundation is based on happiness and financial reward. Our teachers should be fully appreciated by the administration and the community. If you want our teachers to be productive and happy, pay them what will show appreciation for the good work that they do. If you pay them poorly, I believe you will see Anchorage’s high quality standings will drop.

National studies indicate closed schools and/or prolonged online learning has not been successful for all. What ideas do you have to recover this learning loss?

I think we should open the schools only after our students, staff and teachers are protected from virus. We all know the virus is adapting quickly with variations happening quickly. We should not rush to open the classroom and when we do so it must be done only after all is protected from becoming super spreaders. This year has been a year of sacrifice. Let’s not lose all that we sacrificed by re-opening the schools prematurely.

How will you reach out to the different community constituencies to hear concerns about their students’ education?

I have been a public servant for a large part of my life. I believe in public service and transparency in government. I plan to listen to all and sincerely consider their advice and recommendations. I will do this by scheduling regular meetings with the community councils and attending school events such as sports to theater productions.

Given the rich diversity of our school district and community, what is the best approach to equitably meet the needs of all students, regardless of socio-economic differences?

The best approach is through respect for all traditions, cultures and languages that are represented in our community. Our teachers, administration, staff and school board must clearly reflect the rich diversity of Anchorage! Communities all over the world are growing to appreciate diversity and thus are leaping forward to face and accept the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly competitive world.

What ideas do you have to ensure that English Language Learners and students with disabilities have equal learning opportunities in the Anchorage School District?

As an Alaska Native, I believe in equal opportunity for all. We’re all citizens of the state and the country. Our constitutions (state and federal) abhor discrimination. It is each citizen’s obligation to be fair and just.