Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/23/1995 01:10 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 participate. 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 process. 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 systems. 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 Education. 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 culture. 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 regulations. 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.