Sunday, Jan. 04, 2009

Anna Tobeluk

Sheldon Jackson's intentions were good, but his impact on Alaskan education was not. Until the mid-1970s, most rural villages in Alaska lacked schools or even basic infrastructure, with many towns connected not by roads, but by boardwalks. If they could afford it, some rural students took planes to reach the nearest school. Others were forced to spend 9 months of the year apart from their families when the distance was too great to cover regularly. Anna Tobeluk was just 18-years-old when, in 1975, she became the last plaintiff to join a lawsuit against the Alaskan government for its failure to provide public education. A year later, the court ruled in the students' favor and 126 schools were constructed across Alaska — an area nearly twice the size of Texas.