Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/23/1995 01:10 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HCRA - 03/23/95                                                               
 HB 167 - AK NATIVE LANGUAGE & CULTURE PROGRAMS                               
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Representative Nicholia to introduce HB 167.           
 Number 398                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA stated HB 167 would move the Alaskan            
 education system into the forefront of the nation's efforts to                
 recognize diversity, to promote and preserve cultural heritage, and           
 to insure access to the rich legacy of our American ancestors to              
 all students.  A comprehensive program for Alaska Native language             
 and culture, such as is offered in HB 167, will encourage those               
 educators and members of the concerned public, both Native and non-           
 Native, to expand curricular offerings in ways that are directly              
 relevant to their students.  It will also greatly add to the vision           
 of America as both a diverse and integrated nation.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA said that this bill does not mandate that             
 school districts create specific programs for Native language and             
 culture.  Rather, it allows and authorizes districts to undertake             
 the delicate and complicated tasks required to create concrete and            
 effective cross-cultural curricula.  Under the guidelines                     
 established by HB 167, districts are encouraged to network with               
 other nonsectarian institutions to gain curricular depth in Alaska            
 Native language and culture.  Districts are also directed to                  
 establish and maintain effective, individualized communication with           
 parents to forge home-school partnerships for Alaska Native                   
 curricular innovation.  Part of this directive is the establishment           
 of a parent committee, similar to those made available in Chicago             
 schools during their extensive restructuring.  HB 167 also                    
 encourages districts to include children who are not Alaskan Native           
 in the new courses and activities when resources are available.               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA declared that reflecting the highly                   
 progressive and proactive policies of the state of Minnesota, this            
 bill also broadens the opportunities districts have to find and               
 hire qualified instructors for their Alaska Native language and               
 culture programs.  This legislation demonstrates that the state of            
 Alaska is concerned with creating richness and diversity within its           
 school curricula, and also that the state actively seeks to                   
 recognize and utilize the strengths of all of its people for the              
 betterment of its children.  Passage of HB 167 would signal the               
 nation and the world that Alaska is ready to meet the goals of                
 America 2000, and the global goals of inclusion, diversity, and               
 cultural preservation.  Representative Nicholia strongly urged the            
 support of the committee for HB 167.                                          
 Number 434                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked if the committee had any questions or comments.           
 Number 438                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked about Article 2.                                     
 Number 444                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE stated that this bill was amended to create             
 Article 2.                                                                    
 Number 449                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for questions or comments.  He then asked if              
 Sheila Peterson from the Department of Education had any comments.            
 Number 453                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said HB 167 was a more complex bill.  She stated it              
 would provide a curriculum to the students and strengthen self-               
 esteem and develop and inter-cultural awareness among the students.           
 She also stated implementation of this bill would allow for strong            
 parent/community education involvement which the Department of                
 Education greatly approves of.  Ms. Peterson sees this as an                  
 excellent program for all children and not just Native students.              
 She said HB 167 covers many topics from establishing the program to           
 allowing part-time contracts with other non-profit corporations to            
 provide some services; it changes the way teacher certification               
 works in regards to teachers who are certified to teach in this               
 Native language culture.  The Department of Education is very                 
 supportive of this concept and thinks it is an excellent approach             
 for all students.                                                             
 Number 482                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE asked if this program would be available for            
 any school district in the state to participate in and not just for           
 those districts with a majority of Native students.                           
 Number 485                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON replied that this bill sets up a program that enrolls            
 Alaska Native children but doesn't set up a percentage of                     
 enrollment.  No one is mandated to participate and Alaska Native              
 students are encouraged as well as non-Native students to                     
 Number 492                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE referred to page 3, of the bill as it related           
 to the certification of Alaska Native language and culture                    
 teachers.  He noted one of the requirements was the teachers hold             
 a bachelor's degree or any other academic degree approved by the              
 board.  He wanted to know how many Native Alaskan people possessed            
 a bachelor's degree and could also speak the Native language                  
 proficiently.  Representative Mackie stated one of his concerns was           
 that many elders may not have a college education but do have the             
 potential to teach Native language and culture.  This requirement             
 may be severely limiting if you draw upon the talent within a small           
 community.  The chances of finding lots of people that have a                 
 degree and Native language proficiency are small according to                 
 Representative Mackie.                                                        
 Number 508                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said she wasn't aware of the number of eligible Alaska           
 Natives.  This particular language in HB 167 modifies the current             
 teacher certificate to allow a certificate to be given to an                  
 individual who may not possess a bachelor's degree but does possess           
 technical knowledge in certain areas.  The language would also                
 allow the State Board of Education, through public debate make, a             
 determination of what those qualifications would be.  According to            
 HB 167, a person possessing this teaching certificate would be                
 eligible for teacher retirement and tenure and would be paid on the           
 same scale as a teacher.                                                      
 Number 524                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked if the teacher in question had to meet all           
 three requirements listed on page 3 of HB 167, or meet just one to            
 become the qualified teacher.  As he understands it, he thinks the            
 teacher has to meet only one requirement.                                     
 Number 533                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE stated he looked at it differently in that              
 the wording says a person "who" meets requirements number one and             
 two "or" requirement number three which goes into different                   
 criteria.  He said the first two requirements go together unless              
 the word "or" is added.                                                       
 Number 541                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA said that an amendment could be made to add           
 the word in.                                                                  
 Number 543                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE stated he was didn't know why the first two             
 requirements were linked together and he was hesitant on making an            
 amendment without knowing it's effect.                                        
 Number 544                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN stated he wasn't quite sure of the exact intent            
 of HB 167.  He referred to his district of Kodiak and similar                 
 existing volunteer programs whereby a village elder visits the                
 schools in the city of Kodiak and gives a week long presentation on           
 language or Native culture.  He asked if this bill would mandate              
 that each school district be involved in this program.                        
 Number 554                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON stated HB 167 was not a mandating program but an                 
 optional one.  The determination made by the local community.  The            
 program could be very complex, encompassing subjects of all areas             
 or simple, involving projects like those described by Co-Chair                
 Austerman making it a flexible program.                                       
 Number 560                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked if the local school districts would have             
 the option of determining the length of time they wanted to be                
 involved in the program or whether they wanted to have a long term            
 teacher of the Native language integrated into their school system.           
 Number 564                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said there is nothing about this bill which states               
 that this is something that couldn't be done before be.  HB 167               
 brings the awareness of this program to the school districts.                 
 Number 570                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON asked about the bill's reference to "the             
 board" and assumed it meant the school board.                                 
 Number 572                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON confirmed it and said it was the State Board of                  
 Education adopted regulations that went through the regular public            
 Number 575                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN what the current minimum requirements were for                  
 subjects taught within a school district.                                     
 Number 584                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said graduation standard requirements depend on how              
 many credits there are in particular subjects.  There is a time               
 frame between kindergarten and third grade requiring a certain                
 number of hours, and in the other grades as well.  She said she was           
 unsure whether the Department of Education dictates what subjects             
 must be taught.                                                               
 Number 590                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated his opinion of school subjects are those like            
 mathematics, language arts and science.  He wanted to know if                 
 subjects like these are placed as requirements in REAA school                 
 Number 597                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON directed this question at Vince Barry, Director,                 
 Educational Program Support, who promptly directed it toward Chris            
 Niemi, Teacher Certification Administrator for the Department of              
 Number 600                                                                    
 CHRIS NIEMI, Teacher Certificate Administrator, Administrative                
 Services, Department of Education, stated the department has                  
 regulations that address high school graduation requirements.  She            
 listed the specific subject area units:  Language arts, four credit           
 units; social studies, three credit units; mathematics, two credit            
 units; science, two credit units; and health and physical                     
 education, one credit unit.  She stated school districts are                  
 required to have these subjects as a minimum standard but they may            
 choose to have more credits in these areas toward graduation.  In             
 addition to this, she referred to comments made by Ms. Peterson               
 concerning school curriculum and personnel that addresses the                 
 governing body of a district.  They may make provisions affecting             
 the qualified residents of the community who hold an appropriate              
 certificate and recognize the experts to teach particular skills or           
 courses and for the employment of teacher aides of qualified                  
 residents of the community served who do not hold an appropriate              
 certificate.  In addition, the governing body of a district shall             
 adopt, in a required manner, the curriculum which describes what              
 will be taught.                                                               
 Number 622                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN appreciated the comments offered by Ms. Niemi.                  
 Number 624                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated his concern over his interpretation               
 stating that the board shall grant a certificate in Alaska Native             
 language and culture education if they possess a bachelor's degree.           
 He said that having a bachelor's degree doesn't necessarily make              
 you competent enough to teach an Alaska Native language or culture            
 class.  He felt the first requirement should be knowledge of the              
 subject and a bachelor's degree in that subject would be preferred            
 but if an applicant doesn't have one, the board should be able to             
 exempt or issue a certificate exempting that qualification.  He               
 doesn't want to enact a bill wherein everyone that has a bachelor's           
 degree is instantly qualified to teach Alaska Native language and             
 culture.  He stated that this was how he interpreted the existing             
 HB 167 wording.                                                               
 Number 640                                                                    
 MS. NIEMI agreed with Representative Kott and noted there was                 
 another statute that lists requirements for issuance of a                     
 certificate and states that the department should issue the                   
 certificate whereas this bill decrees that the board issue the                
 certificate.  She felt the committee should consider keeping the              
 statutes consistent.  She also said this section states a person is           
 not eligible unless they hold a baccalaureate degree.  Other                  
 legislation is similar as it does not provide additional                      
 stipulations in content.                                                      
 Number 651                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for clarification whether the Department of               
 Education is providing teacher certificates in Alaska Native                  
 languages cross-cultural education provided by 14.20.025, which               
 requires a bachelor's degree and then additional qualifications               
 such as possess the ability to speak the language or come from that           
 Number 659                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE referred to page 3, line 6, stating it listed           
 the criteria under which the certificate can be issued.  He stated            
 the applicant needed to first possess the confidence and language,            
 and be able to teach, and then have a bachelor's degree.  He                  
 mentioned concerns about the bachelor's degree requirement which              
 could eliminate 99 percent of the applicants right off.  He's aware           
 that there are a significant amount of people who could teach the             
 language.  He's unsure about the section allowing all the teachers            
 to be on the same level and he doesn't think it's fair to the                 
 school districts to have this certain stringent of criteria.  He              
 stated there are people in any given community capable of teaching            
 in the program and they could be given a special certificate to               
 teach the one subject, Alaska Native language or culture.  A                  
 financial arrangement could be worked out with the school district            
 on something like a contractual basis.  He said by making the                 
 applicant requirements so high and stringent, it would eliminate a            
 great number of willing participants.                                         
 Number 678                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON agreed with the comments made by                         
 Representative Mackie.  He also had a concern where he didn't want            
 the board to have the ability to issue a certificate, in Alaska               
 Native language and culture, to an applicant simply because they              
 had a bachelor`s degree.                                                      
 Number 683                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA referred to section 2 and stated that if an           
 applicant didn't have a bachelor's or academic degree, but meets              
 the requirements and has the experience required by the board, by             
 regulation, then they could still teach.                                      
 Number 690                                                                    
 MS. NIEMI mentioned other legislation referring to other teacher              
 certificates and make HB 167 address Alaska Native Language                   
 teachers that hold a baccalaureate degree.  She said 14.20.25                 
 pertains to other teacher certificates.                                       
 Number 694                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA referred to page 3, line 30, and said the             
 word "or" and other wording covers their worries.                             
 Number 698                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated that he was losing the direction of the                  
 conversation.  He was concerned with Section 14.03.250.  He wanted            
 further clarification as to the intent of Representative Nicholia.            
 TAPE 95-10, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 007                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN stated that everyone basically had the same                
 idea, but headed in slightly different directions.  On page 3, line           
 26, (1) and (2) are combined together as a requirement or one could           
 look at number (3) as an alternative to the first requirement.                
 This was how he understood Representative Nicholia was explaining             
 it was read.                                                                  
 Number 020                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE said this was his point to the chair.  He               
 wanted everyone to make sure they understood the intent of that               
 section.  He asked if the Department of Education understood it               
 this way in that they may give the special certificates for this              
 particular study.  He questioned whether upon the issuance of the             
 special certificate, would the applicant qualify for the rest of              
 the bill which refers to actual certification and tenures.                    
 Number 037                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said this was the interpretation of the Department of            
 Education that it could either be a person having competence and a            
 bachelor's degree or someone who met the other requirements                   
 determined by the Board of Education.  The current wording of HB
 167 states that these individuals would be compensated as a                   
 certified teacher and would participate in teacher's retirement.              
 Number 050                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked if the certification process was governed by              
 the State Board of Education.                                                 
 Number 052                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said the State Board of Education would make the                 
 determination based on these guidelines.                                      
 Number 057                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE stated he was concerned that many of these              
 issues should be reviewed by the Health and Social Science                    
 Committee and because of this, he held back on his questions                  
 concerning the fiscal notes.  He wondered why HB 160 and HB 167               
 were referred to the Community and Regional Affairs Committee and             
 he recommended that HB 167 be moved on to the HESS committee.                 
 Number 073                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN had questions concerning the attached fiscal note.              
 He wondered if new members would be hired to execute HB 167.                  
 Number 081                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON stated the Department of Education would like to see             
 the program indicated by HB 167 implemented and be a success in               
 school districts.  The department felt they would need to add an              
 additional staff person to provide technical assistance but for the           
 most part the fiscal note offered contractual arrangements or                 
 grants which would provide services currently mandated by HB 167.             
 Ms. Peterson referred to page 6, line 24, where it stated that the            
 Commissioner of Education shall provide technical assistance for              
 secondary institutions and the section also listed a variety of               
 services the department shall be responsible for.                             
 Number 108                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN stated that this would complicate systems beyond           
 the necessary goals aimed at in this bill.  He expressed his                  
 interest in the bill and wished to see it implemented.  He                    
 disagreed with Representative Mackie because he stated the bill was           
 an issue that directly affects the intent of the Community and                
 Regional Affairs Committee.  He said he would like to have the                
 opportunity to further pursue the bill and possibly come up with              
 some of his own changes and amendments that would comply with what            
 he thinks should be achieved with HB 167.                                     
 Number 132                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN welcomed any other questions or comments.                 
 Number 134                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT referred to page 3, subsection (C), line 3,               
 involving "non-public schools" and wondered if these referred to              
 Christian schools which could be enrolled on a time share basis.              
 He wanted to know if there were other examples of allowing                    
 Christian children into public school systems using public monies.            
 Number 145                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON again stated the department wasn't involved in the               
 drafting of HB 167.  Her interpretation of "non-public schools" was           
 to assume that public schools could enroll a student attending a              
 religious, private school.  There are drafted regulations directed            
 toward the Lieutenant Governor, passed by the past State Board of             
 Education, allowing part time private school students to attend               
 public schools.  These regulations may be reviewed by the current             
 State Board of Education before being forward to the Lieutenant               
 Governor.  She stated that this concern was publicly addressed and            
 was of the opinion it would be allowed.                                       
 Number 172                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the draft regulations addressed non-             
 public schools by including religious schools.  He wondered under             
 what category home schooled children would fall.                              
 Number 182                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON stated they weren't addressed in the draft                       
 Number 186                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE stated the section only referred to children            
 enrolled in a non-public school which could include home-schooling,           
 religious schooling and no schooling at all.  He stated there were            
 only two differences, a public school or a non-public school and              
 the "non-public" wording seek to define everyone not in a public              
 school district.                                                              
 Number 194                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wanted to know under what system would home               
 schooling be classified.                                                      
 Number 198                                                                    
 MS. PETERSON said that home schooled students were technically                
 considered a member of a private school of one.                               
 Number 205                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN agreed with the department and he mentioned                
 students in rural areas taking correspondence which could be                  
 considered private schools of one.  He wondered who else was                  
 involved in drafting HB 167.                                                  
 Number 218                                                                    
 DEBORAH OSTENDORf, Legislative Secretary to Representative                    
 Nicholia, said HB 167 came from the state of Minnesota where it was           
 originally introduced.                                                        
 Number 227                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE agreed with the comments posed by Co-Chair              
 Austerman and said HB 167 could use some work to clarify and                  
 simplify it more.  He hoped that the program would reach a state in           
 which people willingly volunteered and special certificates were              
 issued by the Department of Education and school district would               
 accept the program.  He didn't want to have the committee spend too           
 much time working to clean up the bill without being aware of the             
 intent of HESS (Health, Education and Social Services) concerning             
 HB 167.  He thought the bill sponsor and the committee would be               
 better served if HB 167 was closely examined by the HESS Committee.           
 Number 258                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN appreciated the comments offered by Representative              
 Mackie.  He supported the intent of HB 167 and also expressed his             
 concerns over the attached fiscal note.  He thought HB 167 would              
 give parents and the community more say in determining the school             
 curriculum and would help strengthen the educational system.  This            
 bill would be a right step in getting more community involvement in           
 contributing not only time, but equipment.                                    
 Number 281                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN again stated he strongly supported HB 167.  He             
 expressed his frustration over the fact that millions of dollars              
 were spent in trying to save endangered species of salmon while the           
 state's Native culture was being lost and the Native people were              
 bordering on extinction.                                                      
 Number 294                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that he felt the HESS Committee would             
 better address some of the concerns addressed during the meeting.             
 He moved that HB 167 pass the committee with individual                       
 recommendations and the attached fiscal notes.                                
 Number 303                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN heard no objection, and it was so ordered.                      

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