New Bethel lawmaker co-sponsors bill to create statewide pre-K

Jan 27, 2017

Representative Zach Fansler along with Scott Kawasaki  and Chris Tuck introduced a bill last week that promotes voluntary, statewide prekindergarten programs.

Zach Fansler of Bethel is serving his first term as the representative for Alaska House District 38.
Credit Zach Fansler for State House

Last week Representatives Scott Kawasaki, Zach Fansler, and Chris Tuck introduced a bill to create a statewide, voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program. The bill was referred to the education committee. Zach Fansler is the representative from Bethel. This is his first term in the Alaska legislature. Fansler emphasizes the importance of early childhood education and notes that the proposed legislation could have secondary benefits.

“It is definitely focused on education,” Fansler says, “but the childcare portion is another nice part of that because, especially in western Alaska, we have limited access to childcare.”

Fansler didn’t say what money would be used to fund the bill, but he did say that it would save money over time.

“Investing in quality pre-K programs is going to save Alaskans in the long run from paying for anything from remedial and special education, public assistance, things like that.”

The idea of universal pre-K for Alaska isn’t new. Kawasaki has sponsored similar bills in past legislative sessions that have died in committee. The program this session’s bill proposes would operate within a school district and would provide early childhood education to students three through five years old.

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