Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/06/2009 08:00 AM EDUCATION


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 130 STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRES AND SURVEYS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 59 PRE-ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAMS/PLANS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB  59-PRE-ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAMS/PLANS                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:30:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  59, "An Act providing for the  establishment of a                                                               
statewide early childhood education plan and guidelines."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:31:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved  to  adopt  CSHB  59,  Version  26-                                                               
LS0329\E, Mischel, 3/9/09, as the working document.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:31:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  objected for discussion and  informed the committee                                                               
that  the  sectional analysis  and  fiscal  note they  were  just                                                               
provided relates to Version E.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:32:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRODY  ANDERSON,  Staff,  Representative Kawasaki,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  informed   the  committee  that  the   only  change                                                               
encompassed in  Version E is on  page 4, lines 1-2.   A committee                                                               
substitute  was requested  because  there  was concern  regarding                                                               
whether the  Department of Education and  Early Development (EED)                                                               
would  include other  organizations, child  care facilities,  and                                                               
child  care providers  outside of  Head Start  in discussions  of                                                               
guidelines.  He  pointed out that many child  care facilities and                                                               
providers already have criteria that  they are required by law to                                                               
follow in order  to be licensed with the  department.  Therefore,                                                               
there is no desire to duplicate existing efforts.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:34:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  if  the new  language  on page  4,                                                               
lines 1-2, would include programs such as Parents as Teachers.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SCOTT   KAWASAKI,  Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
speaking as  one of  the prime sponsors,  replied yes,  and added                                                               
that  the notion  is  to have  inclusive  legislation to  include                                                               
early childhood  education plans for facilities  that are outside                                                               
regular school districts or Head Start programs.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:35:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON related that  in Wrangell there are several                                                               
different day care  centers, some of which  are babysitters while                                                               
others have  trained employees who provide  language development.                                                               
She  asked  if  Version  E would  include  [those  programs  with                                                               
trained employees who provide educational development].                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  replied yes,  adding that the  desire is                                                               
to  have as  inclusive a  bill as  possible.   He clarified  that                                                               
those  facilities with  specific  educational  purposes would  be                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:36:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  inquired  as  to  whether  this  bill  is                                                               
necessary, particularly  since there is a  Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-                                                               
K) plan  statewide.  He further  inquired as to how  this bill is                                                               
different.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI opined  that this bill is  necessary.  He                                                               
reminded  the  committee  that  much of  the  discussion  in  the                                                               
legislature   focuses  on   K-12   education  and   postsecondary                                                               
education.  This bill adds a  new section under the duties of the                                                               
department  to include  and devise  a  statewide early  education                                                               
plan.   The department  has some policy  notes and  discussion on                                                               
the matter, but only about  .1 percent of the department's budget                                                               
goes toward early  education.  Therefore, he  said it's necessary                                                               
to have  the language in  statute to ensure the  department views                                                               
it as a priority of the legislature.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:37:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  removed his objection  to the adoption of  CSHB 59,                                                               
Version  E.   There being  no  further objection,  Version E  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:39:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ inquired  as to  how the  zero fiscal  note                                                               
reconciles with the staff requirements of the bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  deferred  this question  and  suggested                                                               
that EED would  devise the plan and place it  in policy, although                                                               
it's not currently funded.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:40:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI then  introduced HB 59, which  he said is                                                               
more than  just an  education bill.   He  related that  those who                                                               
received quality early education have  had 29 percent higher high                                                               
school graduation rates and 20  percent higher college [entrance]                                                               
rates.   Furthermore, those who received  quality early education                                                               
can  earn  up  to  $140,000  additional  income  per  capita  per                                                               
individual, which can result in  better employment.  Furthermore,                                                               
those  who  receive  quality  early education  could  have  a  70                                                               
percent  lower  incidence of  crime.    Also, those  who  receive                                                               
quality early  education are less  likely to be on  welfare rolls                                                               
and the  McDowell Group report  relates a 25 percent  decrease in                                                               
dependents.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  informed the committee that  Alaska is 1                                                               
of  10 states  that doesn't  spend funds  on early  education and                                                               
Pre-Kindergarten, specifically.   This bill  would add  Alaska to                                                               
the  list  of  states  that   recognize  the  benefits  of  early                                                               
education and  childhood development.  He  acknowledged that [the                                                               
legislature] has  done fairly  well with  education the  last few                                                               
years  by increasing  the  base student  allocation  by $100  and                                                               
adding  funds for  special  education  and pupil  transportation.                                                               
Furthermore,   district    cost   factors   have    been   added.                                                               
Representative  Kawasaki opined  that  the  legislature has  done                                                               
well for K-12 education.   In fact, the Fairbanks school district                                                               
experienced  a  budget  increase  of $6  million,  which  is  the                                                               
largest it has received in nearly two decades.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  highlighted   that  the  University  of                                                               
Alaska system has  remained strong as it's one of  the best world                                                               
class  institutions  in  the  North.     More  specifically,  the                                                               
university system  has one  of the best  physics programs  and is                                                               
one of  the only land,  sea, space,  and air institutions  in the                                                               
North.  In fact, [the  University of Alaska's physics program] is                                                               
a  leader in  global climate  change.   However, early  education                                                               
funding  is lacking.   As  mentioned  earlier, all  of the  early                                                               
education  funding together  totals one-tenth  of one  percent of                                                               
the  budget and  most  of  those funds  are  federal  funds.   He                                                               
reminded  the  committee  that   Head  Start  is  generally  only                                                               
available to the poorest families as  is the case with Child Care                                                               
Assistance.  According  to the Head Start  Association, nearly 50                                                               
percent  are waiting  to attend  Head Start  due to  the lack  of                                                               
funding and state support.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI explained that the  need to spend more on                                                               
Pre-K  rather than  on the  K-12 or  university level  is because                                                               
funding  pre-Kindergarten   really  does  work.     There  is  an                                                               
immediate  and  long-term  benefit to  funding  pre-Kindergarten.                                                               
Critical development occurs in the  early years as children are a                                                               
sponge during  Pre-K.   According to  the National  Institute for                                                               
Early  Education   students  who  have  received   quality  early                                                               
education  courses   have  experienced   a  30   percent  greater                                                               
vocabulary  rates  and  40  percent greater  math  rates.    "Our                                                               
investment  pays  dividends;  every  $1  invested  can  return  a                                                               
potential  $7-$17,"  he  informed  the  committee.    He  further                                                               
informed the  committee that  a study  that tracked  students who                                                               
are  now  40-year-old  adults  from   the  time  they  entered  a                                                               
preschool.   Those students have,  on average, earned  33 percent                                                               
more  than   those  who  didn't   attend  a  state   funded  pre-                                                               
Kindergarten school.   He then  related that Best  Beginnings and                                                               
school district data  illustrates that those who  begin school in                                                               
Kindergarten  or  First  grade   are  unprepared.    However,  he                                                               
clarified that it's not a failure  of young children to learn but                                                               
rather  it's   a  failure  of  parents,   the  education  system,                                                               
politicians, and society.  This  legislation, he opined, can move                                                               
[the  education system  and the  state's young  residents] toward                                                               
success.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:47:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON asked  if  the report  date of  January  2010 is  a                                                               
reasonable  timeframe  in which  EED  can  develop  a plan.    He                                                               
related his  assumption that this  educational plan  will require                                                               
conferences with various stakeholders.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDERSON related that EED already  has the first draft of the                                                               
Alaska Education  Plan, which includes early  education criteria.                                                               
With  regard  to the  actual  implementation  date, it  has  been                                                               
discussed with EED; the department  didn't express a problem with                                                               
the date.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:49:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDERSON,  in response  to Chair  Seaton, specified  that the                                                               
language  on page  4, lines  3-17, is  already in  statute.   The                                                               
intent was  to include  early education  as is  accomplished with                                                               
the language on page  4, lines 18-20.  He said  he wasn't sure if                                                               
those additional duties are part  of the contention or whether it                                                               
has  to do  with the  things that  have already  been implemented                                                               
through Best Beginnings.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON is there is language  other than on page 4, lines 5-                                                               
6,  that  has  been  pointed  to as  why  this  language  is  not                                                               
necessary  because  it's covered  elsewhere.    He asked  if  the                                                               
sponsor is  aware of the  existence language in  existing statute                                                               
that specifies the department of school board should cover this.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:53:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  recalled Representative  Kawasaki relating                                                               
the many  benefits of  early education as  specified in  the 2006                                                               
McDowell Group  report.  However,  he said that he  couldn't find                                                               
any such  documentation of  those benefits  in the  2006 McDowell                                                               
Group report.   He  requested a documented  list of  the benefits                                                               
specified  in the  sponsor's literature  as  well as  information                                                               
gleaned from the national arena.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said that he has  volumes of information                                                               
supporting the  premise that early education  does have long-term                                                               
benefits, which he agreed to provide to the committee.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:55:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ expressed  interest in obtaining information                                                               
on  the  10  states  that   do  not  provide  funding  for  early                                                               
education, specifically  information on the graduation  rates and                                                               
benchmark test scores of the students in those 10 states.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI agreed to provide that information.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:56:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LENETTA COLBERT,  Director, Open  Arms Child  Development Center;                                                               
Adjunct   Professor,  University   of  Alaska   Fairbanks;  Early                                                               
Childhood  Commission, Fairbanks  Northstar  Borough, noted  that                                                               
she  has worked  in  early childhood  for about  35  years.   She                                                               
related  that the  three accredited  early  childhood centers  in                                                               
Alaska  have   met  460  standards,  which   exceeds  state  law.                                                               
Therefore, there are  centers in place that are ready  to go with                                                               
this program.   With  regard to  questions about  documenting the                                                               
studies presented, she offered to  provide further information on                                                               
proven studies.   She mentioned that the text  she uses specifies                                                               
that early  education saves  $12.90 per every  $1.00 spent.   All                                                               
children  can benefit  from a  good beginning,  not just  poverty                                                               
students,  she opined.    Although  there is  an  image of  early                                                               
childhood  centers  being  babysitters, accredited  centers  have                                                               
curriculum  for children  six  months of  age  and requires  that                                                               
teachers    provide   weekly    lesson    plans   that    address                                                               
developmentally appropriate  education.   Furthermore, accredited                                                               
centers  also perform  assessments  every three  months to  track                                                               
those children  who need intervention.   Ms. Colbert  pointed out                                                               
that  the  Legislative  Research Report  number  06.026  includes                                                               
information  on the  High/Scope Perry  Preschool Project  and the                                                               
Abecedarian Early  Childhood Intervention Project,  which discuss                                                               
the  savings  resulting  from early  childhood  education.    She                                                               
highlighted the  following from  the Abecedarian  Early Childhood                                                               
Intervention Project:  "School districts  saved more than $11,000                                                               
per  child  because  participants  are  less  likely  to  require                                                               
special or remedial education."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:01:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON reviewed  the committee  packet and  requested that                                                               
Ms. Colbert submit any additional information to the committee.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:02:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER asked  for further  information concerning                                                               
the Perry Study.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  COLBERT  explained  that   the  High/Scope  Perry  Preschool                                                               
Project  started about  43 years  ago.   The  project followed  a                                                               
group  of   children  in  a  developmentally   appropriate  early                                                               
childhood program and  tracked them in terms  of various aspects,                                                               
such  as  enrollment  in  college,   purchase  of  home,  gainful                                                               
employment, and community involvement.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH, in  response to  Chair Seaton,  pointed out                                                               
that the reference to the  High/Scope Perry Preschool Project can                                                               
be found on  pages 6-7 of the Legislative  Research Report number                                                               
06.026.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:04:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REVEREND PHILIP  KUEHNERT, Pastor,  Zion Lutheran  Church; Chair,                                                               
Board of  Directors, Open Arms Institute,  informed the committee                                                               
that  as chair  of  the  Board of  Directors  for  the Open  Arms                                                               
Institute he travels  to the Lower 48 frequently to  visit the 59                                                               
Open Arms Centers  in 12 states.  Those visits  make him aware of                                                               
the  states  that  are  involved and  those  states  that  aren't                                                               
involved  in   early  childhood  programs.     Reverend  Kuehnert                                                               
encouraged the committee to  favorably consider this legislation.                                                               
Although he acknowledged the  fiscal difficulties the legislature                                                               
faces, he indicated  the need to sacrifice when it's  in the best                                                               
interest of a child's long-term health  and success in life.  The                                                               
legislation, he opined, in part  [addresses] the long-term health                                                               
and success  of children.   He suggested that  HB 59 will  get to                                                               
those  families  between  the poverty-stricken  and  wealthy  who                                                               
don't have the  ability or opportunity to  attend early childhood                                                               
education programs.   Reverend Kuehnert encouraged  the committee                                                               
to pass and fund this legislation.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:07:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  requested  that   Reverend  Kuehnert  forward  any                                                               
information  regarding the  Open Arms  program, specifically  the                                                               
number of students, staff, preparation,  outcomes, as well as any                                                               
other pertinent information.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:07:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:08:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS, Director,  School  Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department  of Education  and Early  Development, explained  that                                                               
the zero  fiscal note  reflects that  the department  already has                                                               
staff  working on  the  development of  a plan.    He echoed  Mr.                                                               
Anderson's earlier testimony that early  education is part of the                                                               
department's education  plan.  The legislation  requires that the                                                               
department provide  a report of  a proposed early  childhood plan                                                               
in 2010,  which he opined  the department is  well on its  way to                                                               
achieving.   He pointed  out that the  governor has  requested $2                                                               
million  for a  pilot  Pre-K  program and  EED  has requested  an                                                               
increase in the Head Start funding to total $800,000.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:09:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS, in  response to  Chair Seaton,  said that  the report                                                               
date  of  January   15,  2010,  is  reasonable.     As  mentioned                                                               
previously, the department  does not see one  specific program as                                                               
addressing early childhood  needs in the state, which  is why the                                                               
governor  and commissioner  requested funding  such that  various                                                               
delivery models can  be reviewed.  One of the  delivery models is                                                               
Head  Start.   In further  response  to Chair  Seaton, Mr.  Jeans                                                               
related his understanding that EED  would provide a complete plan                                                               
and report that  to the legislature.  However,  he expressed hope                                                               
that there is flexibility if  the report isn't fully completed by                                                               
January 15, 2010.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:11:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  then asked if  there would  be a difference  in the                                                               
plan  or report  if the  statutory language  said the  department                                                               
would report  to the  legislature "on the  progress of  the early                                                               
childhood  education  plan  devised  under  this  statute  versus                                                               
report on the plan that [EED] basically adopted."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  remarked that inserting  the term "progress"  would be                                                               
appreciated  as  it  would   provide  the  department  additional                                                               
flexibility.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:12:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  inquired  as  to the  location  of  the  statutory                                                               
language  that  stipulates  the  department  will  perform  early                                                               
childhood development.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  directed attention to  the following language  on page                                                               
2,  lines 17-18,  of Version  E:   "exercise general  supervision                                                               
over pre-elementary schools that  receive direct state or federal                                                               
funding".    The  aforementioned   language  doesn't  direct  the                                                               
department  to develop  such a  program, it  merely says  that if                                                               
there is such  a program, the department  has general supervision                                                               
over it.   However, the language on page 3,  beginning on line 26                                                               
specifies  that the  department shall  "devise a  statewide early                                                               
childhood education  plan", which provides the  department with a                                                               
clear legislative  directive to develop the  early childhood plan                                                               
for the state.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:14:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked if the  department opposes  the incorporation                                                               
of this new direction.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS responded that the  department is neutral on this bill.                                                               
He  reiterated that  the  department is  already  headed in  this                                                               
direction and this legislation will not hamper the department.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:14:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS,  regarding the  language on page  3, lines  26-27, and                                                               
page   2,  lines   17-19,  relayed   that  currently   under  the                                                               
department's pilot  Pre-K program, the department  is considering                                                               
providing state supported Pre-K  for four-year-olds.  However, he                                                               
noted that  the Head  Start services  both three-  and four-year-                                                               
olds.   As  long as  there's an  understanding that  some of  the                                                               
multiple  programs that  are being  considered  to provide  early                                                               
childhood  services  may  include three-year-old  children  while                                                               
some may  include four-year-old children,  it should be  fine, he                                                               
said.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:16:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  pointed out  that the  Parents as  Teachers program                                                               
sometimes  involves children  that are  below the  age of  three.                                                               
Therefore,   he   questioned   whether   [Version   E]   includes                                                               
restrictive  language   or  does  it  allow   the  department  to                                                               
incorporate  programs  that service  children  under  the age  of                                                               
four.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  explained  that currently  the  Parents  as  Teachers                                                               
program  is   funded  directly  by  the   federal  government  to                                                               
nonprofits  that  provide the  service.    The funds  don't  flow                                                               
through EED and the department  has no oversight over the Parents                                                               
as  Teachers program.   The  Head Start  program is  different in                                                               
that  EED  does  provide  state support  and  if  the  additional                                                               
$800,000  that is  being  requested this  year  is obtained,  the                                                               
department can have  requirements attached to that  funding.  The                                                               
funding provided from the state  allows the department to provide                                                               
oversight.   If the will  of the legislature  is to have  a state                                                               
funded Parents as Teachers program,  this legislation would limit                                                               
it to three- and four-year-olds.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON remarked  that he  holds the  same concern  for the                                                               
department's pilot  program, and therefore he  expressed the need                                                               
to ensure  that the  legislation's language  isn't limiting.   To                                                               
that end,  Chair Seaton requested  that the department  meet with                                                               
the  sponsor  to  craft  language such  that  it's  allowable  to                                                               
incorporate  those  voluntary   programs  that  include  children                                                               
younger than age three.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS agreed to do so.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:18:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON highlighted  that  of the  38 states  that                                                               
have preschool  programs, half aren't adequately  funded.  Noting                                                               
that Alaska has already had  some lawsuits, Representative Wilson                                                               
asked if  the state will be  set up for lawsuits  by putting more                                                               
[early education language] into  statute, particularly if funding                                                               
isn't available.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said  that once Pre-K is placed in  statute, it becomes                                                               
a viable  option for  the state  to help  those schools  that are                                                               
chronically underperforming.   Therefore, it would  likely create                                                               
a  situation in  which the  courts would  call for  the state  to                                                               
target  its resources  to those  districts  that are  chronically                                                               
underperforming.  He noted that  Judge Gleason has said that Pre-                                                               
K should  be considered  as an  option to  help [underperforming]                                                               
districts.    However,  she  has taken  caution  with  regard  to                                                               
whether the  aforementioned is  constitutionally mandated.   This                                                               
would  likely  increase  the  state's  exposure  to  lawsuit,  he                                                               
opined.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:20:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  surmised then that having  language specifying that                                                               
the department  "shall" have an  education plan for  students and                                                               
provide for coordination may then have a mandated requirement.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS opined  that  the program  would  still be  considered                                                               
voluntary.   However, if there  was a situation in  which limited                                                               
resources were available  to support a Pre-K  program, the courts                                                               
could mandate that  the state target its resources  to the lowest                                                               
performing communities.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:21:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked if this is already occurring.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS related that EED  doesn't view early childhood programs                                                               
as a  fix all  for underperforming districts.   However,  some of                                                               
the underperforming  districts already  have Pre-K  programs, and                                                               
therefore the  quality of the  program and its delivery  make the                                                               
difference.   The same is  true for  the Parents as  Teachers and                                                               
Head Start programs.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:22:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked whether this directive  language provides the                                                               
department the  ability to establish and  improve early education                                                               
guidelines and programs that aren't working well.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  opined that  once this  is put into  law it  will fall                                                               
under EED's  supervision.  Currently,  SB 285 is the  vehicle for                                                               
the   department  to   direct  how   chronically  underperforming                                                               
districts spend  their resources and make  personnel decisions to                                                               
improve  student achievement.    Absent  the aforementioned,  the                                                               
department will  provide very general supervision  over the Pre-K                                                               
programs.   Mr.  Jeans then  told  the committee  that the  early                                                               
learning guidelines have already  been developed in collaboration                                                               
with  Department of  Health and  Social Services  early childhood                                                               
providers  and adopted  by the  Alaska State  Board of  Education                                                               
last year.   Those guidelines  are available on  the department's                                                               
web  site and  there's  an  effort to  distribute  them to  early                                                               
childhood providers.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:24:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON inquired  as to the difference  the legislation will                                                               
make  in   terms  of   the  department's   ability  to   aid  the                                                               
underperforming programs.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS informed  the  committee that  the  draft Request  for                                                               
Proposals  (RFP)   for  the  pilot   Pre-K  already   includes  a                                                               
requirement  for districts  to  specify how  they will  implement                                                               
early  learning  guidelines  into  their  program.    Again,  the                                                               
department is  already going  in that direction,  he stated.   In                                                               
fact, EED  already has  staff that is  providing training  in the                                                               
early learning guidelines.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:26:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON asked  if  the department  has  any suggestions  to                                                               
improve  the bill  other than  the prior  suggestion to  identify                                                               
progress in the  report [so that the legislature  would receive a                                                               
report  on the  progress of  the department's  development of  an                                                               
early childhood program].                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS requested more time to work with the bill sponsor.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:27:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  recalled that the  only other  issue is the  age of                                                               
the child to which the plan  would apply, on which Mr. Jeans will                                                               
work with the sponsor.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:27:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  asked  if  Mr. Jeans  foresaw  any  of  the                                                               
department's  issues that  it will  discuss with  the sponsor  to                                                               
require changes to the zero fiscal note.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  explained  that  the  fiscal note  from  EED  was  in                                                               
response to  the development of  the early childhood plan.   Once                                                               
the plan  is developed and the  timeline in place, there  will be                                                               
an associated fiscal cost.  However,  it may be in line with what                                                               
the department's doing with its budget process.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:28:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  asked if  there are  stated goals  from the                                                               
outset of the plan, the  plan the department is already pursuing,                                                               
that  lead  to  an  ultimate outcome.    More  specifically,  she                                                               
inquired  as to  the  specific  goals and  whether  they will  be                                                               
stated.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS specified  that the  education  plan is  a very  broad                                                               
statement of support for an  early childhood program and that the                                                               
commissioner intends to bring  early childhood providers together                                                               
to refine  the structure  of those  programs or  validate whether                                                               
existing  programs  are appropriate.    The  pilot program  isn't                                                               
intended to be  a brick-and-mortar addition to  the school system                                                               
as the commissioner is interested  in developing resource centers                                                               
in the  schools where parents  can talk with  certified educators                                                               
and have  resources for parental  use.  Mr. Jeans  predicted that                                                               
the ultimate plan  will include pieces from all  the programs and                                                               
initiatives.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:30:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON,  referring  to   the  last  page  of  the                                                               
Legislative Research Report number  08.087, which says, "With the                                                               
current level of  funding, Head Start serves just  under half (48                                                               
percent) of  the children in  Alaska who  are three to  five year                                                               
olds ...."   She  related her  understanding that  the department                                                               
wants to double  the amount [of funding], and inquired  as to how                                                               
many children that would reach.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  clarified  that  the   $800,000  the  department  has                                                               
requested doesn't  cover the  50 percent of  children who  are on                                                               
the wait  list.  There  are just over  1,000 students who  are on                                                               
the wait  list for Head Start.   The $800,000 will  address about                                                               
80 of those  students.  He reminded the committee  that last year                                                               
the department  requested funding  that addressed 60  students on                                                               
the wait  list for  Head Start.   Next  year the  department will                                                               
request  funds to  address about  80  more students.   Mr.  Jeans                                                               
explained  that the  Head Start  program is  different than  what                                                               
most would envision  as a Pre-K program because  it provides full                                                               
wrap-around services, including  medical, dental, counseling, and                                                               
instructional services.  With the  department's pilot program the                                                               
department  hopes to  have more  collaboration with  the programs                                                               
within  the public  school  system, he  related.   For  instance,                                                               
perhaps  the public  school could  hire a  certified teacher  who                                                               
could provide literacy to the Head Start program.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:33:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  recalled that the  US Public Health  Service Report                                                               
indicated that  88 percent of  children under  the age of  six in                                                               
some  communities   in  the  state   have  to  have   full  mouth                                                               
reconstructive  surgery.    Although  the  aforementioned  is  an                                                               
expensive major dental procedure,  early health and education are                                                               
determinatives for the success of Alaskans.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON commented  that early childhood development                                                               
is just  one of  many areas  in which the  state needs  to focus.                                                               
Another area  requiring focus is domestic  violence, particularly                                                               
given   Alaska's    high   incidence   of    domestic   violence.                                                               
Furthermore,  the learning  ability  of  children who  experience                                                               
domestic violence is hampered.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[HB 59 was held.]                                                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 130 information.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/10/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 130
HB 59 background I.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 59 workdraft version E and original version R.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 59 background II.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB59-ESS-EED-4-2-09.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB130-EED-ESS-4-3-09.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/10/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 130