Federal File

May 21, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Reality Check

Secretary of Education Rod Paige trekked to the Alaskan Bush this month to see how rural schools are dealing with the demands of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001.

Instead of a yellow school bus, Mr. Paige took a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter to visit the village of Tuntutuliak and its 377 residents, 440 miles west of Anchorage, said his chief of staff, John Danielson, who joined Mr. Paige on the May 3-7 trip.

Mr. Paige wore a borrowed parka and rubber boots to stroll the town, where a thaw had turned the landscape to slush and mud. Residents walk around town on wooden boardwalks instead of sidewalks, Mr. Danielson said.

The secretary also took a chillier tour of Savoonga, a community on St. Lawrence Island, 40 miles from the Russian coast. There he and Mr. Danielson heard some of the town’s 686 residents praising the balmy, zero-degree spring weather. “We’re Texans. It’s like, ‘Whoa!’ ” Mr. Danielson said. “Forty degrees is pretty rough for us.”

The secretary got around on sleds pulled by four-wheelers or snowmobiles, and got to check out Savoonga’s version of a school bus: a four-wheeler with a sort of red wagon attached with space for eight small children.

He also got an opportunity to sample the local fare, including muktak, a staple involving the blubber and skin of walrus, Mr. Danielson said. “I think [Mr. Paige] might have put it on his plate, but I didn’t see him eat it,” Mr. Danielson conceded.

On the trip, Mr. Paige met teachers—some of whom sleep in their classrooms because of a lack of housing—and a principal who made his home in a school closet. He told the Associated Press that educators there were “heroic.”

Mr. Danielson said Mr. Paige has been to remote, rural schools in Nebraska and the Dakotas, but that the secretary would say that “what he experienced there [in Alaska] could not have been explained to him.”

“When you said ‘rural’ to me several days ago, it meant one thing,” Mr. Paige told the Associated Press. “When you say it to me now, it means a different thing.”

Does that mean Alaskans will get a pass on some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind? Mr. Danielson said those he spoke with in the bush don’t want one.

The response instead was “‘We recognize we have these issues and don’t know how to deal with them. Can you help us?’” Mr. Danielson said.

—Michelle R. Davis


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read