April 5th School Board Candidate Choices: What if…


A MiG-17 performing a low pass at Take to the Skies Airfest 2016 in Durant, Oklahoma.
Photo by 
Balon Greyjoy.

Imagine what our government schools would be like if the deal to purchase Alaska had fallen through and this area was under Russian control today. During the 1967 centennial of purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867,
commissioner of the
Alaska Department of Education,Cliff R. Hartman, presented a comprehensive report prepared by DOE Director of Instructional Services, William R. Marsh, Ed.D looking at what a difference statehood
has meant.

 It is a fascinating perspective as we prepare to vote for two members of the Anchorage School District Board of Education.


Providing outstanding accommodations in Eagle River since 1991


 Supposition in the Prologue:



Further description of Alaska government schools under Soviet management is bleak, with all education programs state-controlled and the mind-numbing curriculum compulsory and uniform throughout the entire country. About one-third of the students complete the 10-year program and only a very few are chosen to go on to higher education at the University of Moscow at Fairbanks.

As explained in this hypothetical scenario: Each year most of the rest of the children between the age of 13 and 16 who are not considered scholastically promising are assigned to the “labor reserve,” where they are
given short periods of preparation for trades and work in factory. 

But that didn’t happen! Alaska was purchased from Russia, and today residents in more than 50 school districts across the state milk the Alaska Legislature like a cow for education funds without accountability for
outcomes. Our government schools have been dumbing down successive generations now over 50 years from the time this optimistic report by the
Alaska Department of Education back then proposed what the mission should be.



Read this story here: https://donnliston.co/2021/08/arrogance-of-entitlement

 As a product of Alaska Public Education myself, I have benefited from the early vision of what education should be to empower future generations of Alaskans. This statement isn’t an “agenda,” it is a standard of civilization in a frontier.

 One Impassioned Mother  

I first met Rachel Ries at the kitchen table of Annie Massey, seated to the left, who organized the Alaska Chapter of Parents’ Rights in Education during the summer of 2021.


Read about MatSu Food Bank here: https://donnliston.co/2021/07/feeding-alaskans-in-mat-su

I started going to ASD board meetings and then went to the Assembly because I am really upset about our rising property taxes—50 percent of which go to our schools, explained Rachel Ries, a candidate for School Board Seat B. I did not like the closed meetings when Covid became the excuse, or the total lack of transparency. The more homework I did the more activated I became. 

 Ries has two grown boys who have left Alaska and a boy in middle school who has dyslexia. She pulled him out of ASD.

 As a 5th grader my son tested at k-3rd grade level at ASD, Ries explained. I put him in the on-line home-school program and now he is testing at or above grade level just one year later. He had the capacity but he didn’t have the opportunity or supports in the classroom.

 That isn’t all the teacher’s fault. They aren’t empowered, Ries continued. My mother was a teacher and I have had long conversations about what she had to learn over the years of teaching. It’s tough to deal with kids who are dyslectic, and the mask mandate meant he wasn’t going to learn if his teacher’s mouth is covered and his mouth is covered.

 Ries said: I am running on transparency, accountability and integrity. I think that’s what parents want from their school board members, and I think that is what the teachers want. I am a manager in the aviation field. I have a lot of leadership management experience from my military training. The board has no managers now.  

Read Alaska
Chalet BNB
story here: https://donnliston.co/2021/02/the-best-thing-about-being-in-anchorage

Anchorage School District Candidates

Seat A

Clifford Murray


Keep Schools Open

Unmask Our Children

Bring Patriotism Back To Our Schools

This candidate works at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium as a contracting officer for a salary of between $20,000-$50,000. He is also the head coach at Northern Lights Swim Club for a salary between $50,000-$100,000.

 Online: https://murrayforalaska.com/?fbclid=IwAR17lxdCyFXvwTlXB4QOlEHQhBiIPuRKOYMJoh3-pYGdyXehIr78oS7z85g


 Filing documents: https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Clerk/Elections/Documents/Candidates%202022/2022-0120%20Murray_Verified.pdf

 Dan Loring

 Provided maintenance services for AlaskaJoint Venture in 2021 for an amount between $10,000-$20,000 and has a pension that pays between $20,000-$50,000,

 Filing Documents:


 Margo Bellamy

 Successful outcomes for all students

 Each decision I make will begin and end with what our students know and can do. Our Data Dashboard clearly shows disparities in student outcomes. Some students are doing well and benefiting more than others.
So, in the last three years, I engaged in a 4-phase strategic planning process, which translated into the Board’s newly adopted goals and guardrails that defines the direction for education in the ASD for the next five years; I supported policies, programs, and practices that focus on successful outcomes for all students and foster environments where students, staff, and parents want to belong. I voted for the apprenticeship policy, adopted a new math curriculum, voted to re-charter four charter schools
, and co-sponsored the Anti-Racism
and Instructional Equity Policies. 

Online: https://www.margobellamy.com

 As an Adjunct Professor at University of Alaska Anchorage, this candidate makes between $10,000-$20,000 annually. She and her spouse are also on Social Security and each earns between $10,000 – $20,000 annually. As current president of the Anchorage School Board Ms. Bellamy also earns between

Filing Documents:



Read Nail Time & Spa and
Kim’s Cuisine
Story Here: https://donnliston.co/2021/12/another-local-business-pandemic-survivor


Mark Anthony Cox

 Protect Parental Rights

 As a husband and father, I believe that parents have the God-given right to direct their children’s future — in education, in healthcare, and in life.

 Empower and Educate Parents

 Anchorage School District is required to engage parents with allocated funds from grants that can be used to educate and empower parents to make sound decisions for their kids. It should focus on transparency rather
than mismanagement. 

Enrich the Classroom Environment

 Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs, and the pandemic has only made that job harder. I believe ASD should do everything it can to shift its’ focus from pay raises and radical curricula and into teachers teaching their students to and above proficiency.  

Online: https://www.macforanc.com/initiatives

 Working for Kawerak, Inc. Cox earns between $50,000-$100,000 annually.

 Filing Documents: https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Clerk/Elections/Documents/Candidates%202022/2022-0124%20Cox_Verified.pdf


Read this story here:


Seat B

 Kelly Lessens

 This past April, Anchorage voters elected me to a one-year term on the Anchorage School Board.

 How Anchorage School Board members address core issues like funding, class sizes, reading proficiency, equitable access to advanced coursework, supports for students with special needs, career preparation, and teacher retention and recruitment, how they ask questions about key markers like attendance, graduation rates, and staffing, and how they value less-easily measured but highly employable skills like empathy, kindness, and resilience will have direct bearing on our long-term student outcomes.

 Online: https://www.kelly4anchoragekids.com/

The spouse of this candidate earns between $200,000-$500,000 as a Medical Director for Southcentral Foundation.

Filing Documents: https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Clerk/Elections/Documents/Candidates%202022/2022-0114%20Lessens_Verified.pdf


Benjamin Baldwin

 A member of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, this candidate serves on several committees and was paid between $10,000-$20,000
to attend meetings as well as other support for going to the annual convention and rent while attending
Alaska Pacific University.

Filing Documents: https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Clerk/Elections/Documents/Candidates%202022/2022-0118%20Baldwin_Verified.pdf


Dustin Darden

 A maintenance worker for the Municipality of Anchorage, this candidate declares he made between $20,000-$50,000 in 2021. 

Online: https://www.infowars.com/show/war-room

 Filing Documents:



Rachel Ries

 Advocate for Parental Choice.

 Keep school open. Schools will not mandate mask wearing or vaccines. This is the individual responsibility of each parent. The school will keep the parents apprised with guidance only.  

Infrastructure – Reinvest in existing campuses.  

Reevaluate all bureaucratic ASD processes to make the school more transparent and accountable.

 Funding and spending should be transparent to the public. Annual public audits to review and revamp as needed for spending and funding allocation.

 Online: RiesForAlaska.com

As a flight operations manager, Ries earns between $100,000 -$200,000 per year. 

Filing Documents:


 ASD is trying to do everything for every special interest when it’s responsibility should be assuring top academic outcomes for Alaskan
families. This overview is an attempt to provide prospective for all Alaskans who want elected officials to focus on what is important as we educate future generations of Alaskans for academic success.


Read AK Roundtable story here: https://donnliston.co/2021/12/what-is-ak-roundtable



[1]North to Alaska Report Prologue

My story about Assembly candidates can be found here: Throw the Bums Out! 


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