Letters From Alaska

When it comes to education, the 49th state faces its own challenges, some of which are unique to Alaska and some that it shares with other rural states. This three-part series explores how cultural and geographic barriers, teacher shortages, historical developments, and other factors have shaped schooling in Alaska.

When it comes to education, the 49th state faces its own challenges, some of which are unique to Alaska and some that it shares with other rural states. This three-part series explores how cultural and geographic barriers, teacher shortages, historical developments, and other factors have shaped schooling in Alaska.
Most Recent

An Alaskan Village's Long Wait for a New School

Rural schools everywhere struggle to maintain adequate buildings, but the quest for a new school has been especially long and fraught for this remote Old Believer village.


At a Glance

Census

The state had an estimated 737,438 residents as of 2018, including 25 percent under 18


There are 229 federally recognized Indian tribes, which are also referred to as Native Villages.

Size

663,300 square miles, nearly 2½ times larger than Texas

Schools & Students in 2018-19

509 schools (2017-18)

54 school districts

128,800 K-12 students

State Funding Per Pupil

At $17,872 in 2019, Alaska’s per-pupil spending is among the highest in the nation

Teachers

7,889 classroom teachers, including part-time

16.35 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio

$70,277 average annual salary

12% statewide average annual turnover, the 12th highest teacher turnover rate in the nation

20% average rural teacher turnover

64% of teacher hires are from out of state

5% of teachers are Alaska Natives

Map

Author Victoria Petersen traveled from her home on the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage and Scammon Bay for the first two stories in the series. For the final story, she traveled to Kachemak Selo.


SOURCES: Education Week’s Quality Counts; Alaska Department of Education and Early Development; National Center for Education Statistics; U.S. Census; Arctic Council; Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage