Sorensen soars again: School board member talks reelection goals

If you made your way through the Juneau School District education system within the last four decades, there’s a good chance Deedie Sorensen taught you how to do what you’re doing right now — reading.

Sorensen, who is now retired from her time teaching in Juneau, is seeking a second term on the Juneau School District Board of Education. She is joined by Emil Mackey, who is also seeking reelection on the school board. Assembly members are also in the running for their current positions unopposed.

Sorensen said she contributes a valuable perspective on the board given her background in education, specifically in Juneau, and said she has taught hundreds of children in the area how to read.

[Return of the Mackey: The school board member talks future of Juneau’s district]

Coming into her second term, Sorensen said one of her goals she wants the district to engage in is developing its own curriculum, particularly a new reading program and new ways to teach reading. She said she thinks the current reading program isn’t as effective as students need and developing a new curriculum would be a step in the right direction.

“I believe that we wandered into a reading program over a decade ago that was unfortunately ineffective,” she said. “The fact that I’ve lived in Juneau since 1980 and I’ve had the opportunity since 1980 to be kind of on the inside of the bowl and watched all kinds of educational ideas come and go, start and dwindle, I think that I understand what programs work good and what don’t,” she said.

She described reading as a “longitudinal process” and said she thinks a reason why the district might be hesitant to shift into a new program is because it takes a while for the benefits of introducing a new process of learning to become apparent.

Sorensen said on the other side of the range of education, she thinks the district has only focused on offering opportunities for students to pursue four-year degrees, instead of opening the doors for offering other career path options for students which don’t require them to take on “a pile of debt.”

She said there are other career paths that students should have the opportunity to pursue, and she’d like to see the school extend its reach in that area.

She said the first step in doing that is creating partnerships with entities in the community that can offer training to students that are interested in a particular career that doesn’t necessitate a degree or typically offers training for it. Sorensen said finding ways to introduce different post-secondary career paths benefits the students themselves and the Juneau community.

“I think we need to look at some of the ways he can have a more integrated relationship with some of our trade unions so that students see that and are prepared in engaging because I don’t think everybody needs a four-year degree,” she said. “We need to be giving students the tools to find a way to further their education without necessarily a four-year degree that they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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