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Palin, GOP VP Pick, Championed New School Finance Program

By Alyson Klein — August 29, 2008 1 min read
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Sen. John McCain has reportedly tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee.

Gov. Palin, a Republican elected in 2006, helped champion an overhaul of the state’s school finance system, which supporters said channeled more money to rural districts outside Anchorage and helped stabilize school districts’ budgets. The measure, approved by the Alaska legislature this year, also hiked spending for students with special needs.

Alaska has an unusual state-run performance-incentive program, which rewards school employees with payments for gains in student achievement. The program was initially signed into law by Ms. Palin’s predecessor as governor, Frank H. Murkowski. The program is distinct in it that rewards many different kinds of school employees, including administrators, teachers, custodians, and secretaries, for increased student performance at their school.

Funding for the program has continued under Ms. Palin, according to the state’s Department of Education and Early Development, which announced another round of awards in August.

Ms. Palin has also become known for juggling her duties as Alaska’s chief executive with those of a parent. Well into her term as governor, she announced that she was pregnant, and in April, she gave birth to a son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The governor was reportedly back at work days after the boy was born. She and her husband, Todd, have four other children.