Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

49 33% (Vazquez Cano et al., 2019). Rural areas experience even higher teacher turnover rates, reaching 30% each year (Committee on Indian Affairs…, 2004). High-poverty, high-diversity, and smaller schools also experienced higher rates of turnover compared with the rest of the state (Vazquez Cano et al., 2019). These data demonstrate that administration and teachers are often in transition, squelching any consistency. The principal at the Nenana City School District, David Huntington, has been working as an educator in Alaska for four years, with two of those years in a rural school. He said that the rural location was inconvenient: “A lot of the teachers at some of those rural districts are new to the profession and they’re willing to go somewhere remote to get their foot in the door” (personal correspondence, January 11, 2022). Huntington noted that once they have gained some experience, many choose to leave for a bigger district or leave the state altogether. This pattern of turnover is not sustainable in creating a positive school environment. Worsening the problem of teacher turnover, it is common for Alaska’s teachers to come from out of state; such teachers are more likely to leave after a short period. These outof-state teachers also lack the lived experience that would aid in building relationships with Alaskan students. Between 2008 and 2012, 64% of Alaska’s teachers came from out of state. This trend was amplified when the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Education lost accreditation in 2019 for failing to meet the standards set up by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. As a result, aspiring teachers in Alaska must supplement their University of Alaska Anchorage education with classes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks or the University of Alaska Southeast (Godsell, 2021). The lack of accreditation means the largest public university in Alaska cannot produce students eligible for a teaching license. The extra hurdle needed to become a teacher at the University of Alaska Anchorage disincentivizes the process, thus further adding to the challenge of finding “homegrown” educators able and willing to stay at schools long term. The high turnover rate, coupled with the prevalence of out-of-state teachers, is not conducive to quality education. This pairing creates a school culture lacking consistency of structure, rules, and expectations. Unfamiliar teachers, whether new or nonlocal, often do not easily connect with Native students due to differing cultural practices, religions, and upbringing. Students often feel they cannot build relationships or trust with their educators, and those struggling with discipline are not incentivized to earn respect from their educators (Godsell, 2021). Paul Ongtooguk, a retired director of Alaska Native Studies for the University of Alaska Anchorage, described the constant teacher and administrative turnover when he taught in rural Alaska. “You can develop great material, but within a couple of years you get a new generation of teachers, and they don’t know it, so they’re uncomfortable teaching it,” Ongtooguk said (Baxter, 2021). Amidst a nationwide teacher shortage, Alaska’s faults are exacerbated. A high turnover rate also has negative implications for the quality of teachers remaining in Alaska schools. In an article outlining the causes and solutions of Alaska teacher turnover, written for the Alaska Policy Forum, the author noted, “When there are few teachers to choose from, there is little competition between applicants, and schools often settle for teachers that are less than ideal” (Godsell, 2021). A National Board Certification (NBC) from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is the highest standard in the teaching profession, and as of 2017, Alaska only had 175 NBC teachers, 8409 fewer than in the State of Washington (Alaska Department of Education…, 2017). Not only are there not enough teachers in Alaska, but this statistic implies that those who are present do not meet the highest standards. Alaska’s high teacher turnover is linked to inadequate housing in rural parts of the state and the emotional toll of isolation. The Teacher Housing Working Group, studying rural school districts in Alaska, found 57% of the districts expressed difficulty recruiting and keeping teachers, of which 33% noted one of the causes being lack of housing. It was not uncommon for some teachers to be found sleeping at the school, while others shared a single home (Committee on Indian Affairs…, 2004). An added drawback for teachers in rural Alaska is feeling isolated or homesick. This is especially