Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

50 prevalent for those coming from the Lower 48 (Godsell, 2021). Those who studied education outside Alaska, or who were teaching for their first time in Alaska, were more likely to leave. Travel is expensive and arduous, amplifying the feelings of disconnect from those who live far away. Many Alaska educators who switched districts moved away from a rural school (Vazquez Cano et al., 2019). The remoteness and lack of housing are some of the reasons the state faces low teacher retention. These unique features make it difficult to incentivize a teaching job in rural Alaska, especially when there are many other, and more convenient, opportunities for teachers. Support Services Along with keeping on and recruiting teachers and administrators, Alaska struggles similarly with finding support staff. Alaska schools face a lack of nurses and counselors. At least 20% of Alaska students do not have a school nurse, and 10% have below the minimum level of health services recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Alaska Department of Education…, 2017). Huntington said at his school there is a high demand for and low supply of counselors (personal communication, 2022). Only one of five students receives the mental health services they need in Alaska. A district’s ability to provide these services is especially important, because 70% to 80% of school-age children who use behavioral and mental health services do so at their schools. Given the clear need, it is alarming that “36% of Alaska schools do not have access to school counseling services” (Alaska Department of Education…, 2017, p. 27). Unaddressed mental health can lead to difficulty with academic achievement and compromise student safety. Possible Solutions There are various solutions to the diminishing quality of education in Alaska. The solutions suggested in this section, some of which are currently being considered by various governmental agencies, attempt to improve internet access, personnel and teacher shortages, teacher turnover, and the disparities between Alaska Native students’ education and their peers. Universal Internet Connectivity The governor of Alaska has established a task force to develop a plan that addresses expansion of high-speed and low-cost internet. The recommended short-term solutions from the task force include the use of fiber, microwave, and geosynchronous earth orbit and low earth orbit satellites (State of Alaska, 2021). Some of the intermediate goals outline funding strategies ensuring an “equitable distribution of funds by need, region, and impact” (p. 72). The task force suggests issuing regional grants for broadband buildout. The long-term initiatives include evaluating and reporting the gaps and areas for improvement. The suggestions from the 100-page task force document could pave the way for students and teachers to have greater internet access, thereby amplifying their educational experience through online courses and other resources. The short-term recommendations are especially important and should be developed quickly. These projects should be supported by a private/public partnership similar to the way that the TransAlaska Pipeline was funded. Expanding internet connectivity has many benefits for rural Alaska beyond education, so it should be a high priority for all government stakeholders. Higher-quality Learning Opportunities Students in remote regions of Alaska are frequently limited by the availability of meaningful learning experiences. To address this problem, the state Department of Education must expand opportunities for remote learning. For success, this requires the improved internet access that the task force solutions promise. Remote learning can reduce the resources needed at each school district, allowing students to take classes offered by other schools that their district cannot provide. For instance, if students want to learn Spanish, but the closest Spanish teacher is 200 miles away, they could tune into a class via Zoom or another video resource. A national survey of distance education, or remote schooling, in rural districts, found that a majority of those surveyed were satisfied with distance education, suggesting that it is a worthwhile alternative that has worked before (Hannum et al., 2009). Remote learning opens doors for students, as they are not limited to what a small