Education in Rural Alaska
Teaching in Bush Alaska offers a unique opportunity for teaching—and learning—in a community and a culture like no other. Connect with other rural educators through edCommunities.
Most Bush communities (or villages, as they are usually known) can be reached only by small airplane, and travel from place to place is typically accomplished with snow machines, four wheelers, boats, or dog sleds.
The Bush is sparsely populated, and in western and northern Alaska, indigenous peoples make up the majority of the population: Aleut, Yup’ik, and Inupiat. Athapascans live in rural villages in Interior Alaska and Tlingit/Haida/Tshimshians in Southeast. Most villages are marked by thriving culture and language and traditional ways of hunting and fishing. It is crucial for you as an educator in the Bush to understand that this is a true cross-cultural experience.
Listening and observing will serve you better than any other behaviors you may choose. Tolerance, flexibility, humility, and patience with yourself and others are essential personal qualities for a successful Alaska Bush experience.
The focus of Delegate Assembly is to meet annually to set the direction for the organization by way of resolutions, new business items, legislative priorities, and approving the organization’s budget.
Across Alaska, members from local associations get together to discuss important issues they wish to have addressed by the statewide organization. They select a time and place to meet and develop ideas they wish their delegates bring to the annual meeting. However, this is not always possible for some locals due to the remoteness of members and their lack of proximity to each other. The solution to this problem became clear many years ago and PARSA (Policy Assembly for Rural and Small Associations) was created to help bridge the distance between these remote local associations.
PARSA provides the opportunity for delegates to come together to discuss and plan to ensure their voices are heard within the larger group as the statewide business meeting is conducted. Each rural and small local can send their delegates to this pre-meeting before Delegate Assembly.
PARSA serves two primary functions: to train new delegates to function effectively at DA, and to act as a focal caucus for rural and small school issues. Training includes the following topics:
- Who is NEA-Alaska
- Purpose & Procedures of Delegate Assembly and PARSA more specifically
- What are Resolutions and NBIs, how to write them, and get them to the Assembly Floor
- What Communities Do
- Practicing Debate
- PARSA Committee work
Delegates attending PARSA have found the experience valuable in understanding the process and concerns brought forward at Delegate Assembly regarding our statewide organization as a whole.
To give you a better understanding of PARSA, please take a few minutes to watch this video.