Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 106

02/25/2011 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:04:17 AM Start
08:06:19 AM Presentation(s): Pribilof School District
08:24:47 AM HB5
08:58:56 AM HB93
09:51:41 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation by Pribilof School District TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 2/28/11>
Moved CSHB 93(EDC) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB   5-CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY CURRICULUM                                                                        
8:24:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DICK  announced that  the next order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  5, "An  Act requiring  a standardized  statewide                                                               
history of American constitutionalism  curriculum and a secondary                                                               
school  history  of  American  constitutionalism  examination  in                                                               
public  schools in  the  state; and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
date."    [A  committee  substitute  (CS)  labeled  CSHB  5,  27-                                                               
LS0018\D, Mischel, 2/1011,  was adopted as the  working draft, at                                                               
the 2/21/11 meeting;  also available in the  committee packet was                                                               
a document labeled CSHB 5, 27-LS0018\E, Mischel, 2/24/11.]                                                                      
8:25:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to rescind the  action adopting CSHB                                                               
5,  27-LS0018\D,  Mischel,  2/1011.   There  being  no  objection                                                               
Version D was rescinded.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to   adopt  CSHB  5,  27-LS0018\E,                                                               
Mischel,  2/24/11.   There  being  no  objection, Version  E  was                                                               
adopted as the working draft.                                                                                                   
The committee took an at-ease from 8:26 a.m. to 8:27 a.m.                                                                       
8:27:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  referred to  Section 3, subsection  (a) to                                                               
note the deletion  of the requirement for testing  in the twelfth                                                               
grade, and  pointed out that  the legislation does  not establish                                                               
testing standards.                                                                                                              
8:29:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI queried  whether existing statute defines                                                               
the term "curriculum segment."                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER deferred.                                                                                                 
8:29:40 AM                                                                                                                    
JIM  POUND,  Staff,  Representative   Wes  Keller,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  answered  that various  terms  were  juggled in  an                                                               
effort to arrive at one  which would allow local superintendents,                                                               
and school  boards, to  determine how they  want to  classify the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI asked  for the  sponsor's definition  of                                                               
the term "curriculum segment."                                                                                                  
MR. POUND recalled his high  school experience to suggest that it                                                               
could be a six week course.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  pondered  the  options  of  specifying  a                                                               
segment  of  time versus  stipulating  required  curriculum.   He                                                               
suggested that required curriculum  could be incorporated into an                                                               
established program; a less onerous approach.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  offered that  the  intent  is to  provide                                                               
broad language  and allow the  districts to  establish curriculum                                                               
and determine when the segment will be taught.                                                                                  
8:33:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DICK  stated support  for  the  intent  of the  bill,  but                                                               
expressed concern for the school  districts receiving an unfunded                                                               
mandate,  and   asked  whether   testing  would   be  imperative;                                                               
particularly attached as a graduation requirement.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  agreed  that mandates  are  difficult  to                                                               
impose, but the  issue is important and should be  brought to the                                                               
fore.   Testing is necessary, as  it creates a point  of business                                                               
that  must be  accomplished.   The  school board  is the  contact                                                               
between  the  parents  and  what   occurs  in  the  schools,  and                                                               
specifics for meeting curriculum  requirements should be in their                                                               
hands for discussion.   It is important to have  an evaluation of                                                               
learned knowledge, and, to that end, a test is the best vehicle.                                                                
CHAIR DICK pointed  out that about 25 percent  of prisoners don't                                                               
understand the  process by  which the  government acted  to place                                                               
them in lockup.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER concurred.                                                                                                
CHAIR DICK pointed out that, given  the parameters of the bill, a                                                               
one day course and a two minute test could be acceptable.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  said yes,  that is  the latitude  that the                                                               
bill allows.                                                                                                                    
8:37:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON, referring  to Section 2, paragraph (4),                                                               
and Section 3, subsection (a),  which name the seven documents to                                                               
be taught,  recalled that the  sponsor's intent to  have American                                                               
values taught.  She said:                                                                                                       
     There's  a big  difference ...  between teaching  these                                                                    
     [documents], and teaching American  values. ... I'm not                                                                    
     quite sure what you want taught.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER explained  that the  suffix "ism"  implies                                                               
standards and  values, and  the documents  capture the  values of                                                               
the nation.   The source  and the  core of American  human rights                                                               
are natural,  as specified in  these documents.  He  allowed that                                                               
some  teachers may  already  be teaching  some  aspects of  these                                                               
documents in existing curriculum.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON   pointed  out   that  current   U.S.                                                               
government  values are  different than  when the  named documents                                                               
were adopted.                                                                                                                   
8:41:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA commented that  the urban and rural values,                                                               
in Alaska,  may create  a discrepancy,  and opined  that imposing                                                               
non-indigenous  values  into  the   Native  culture  may  not  be                                                               
appropriate; other priorities may need to be addressed first.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER pointed out that  the bill does not include                                                               
the Alaskan  Constitution, but provides  segue to that  course of                                                               
study as well.   He contended that the most  important rights for                                                               
rural and urban Alaska, core  values of sovereignty, are included                                                               
in the required documents.                                                                                                      
8:46:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON said  that  law suits  may be  forthcoming                                                               
should this  legislation be enacted.   The bill does  not require                                                               
the teaching  of the specific  documents, but  rather instruction                                                               
of  something  portrayed in  the  documents.   He  paraphrased  a                                                               
previous statement from the sponsor, stating:                                                                                   
     Your response  was that we're teaching  the values that                                                                    
     were established when the  [U.S.] Constitution, and ...                                                                    
     the Articles of  Confederation, etcetera, were adopted,                                                                    
     and   as  was   pointed   out,   those  values   aren't                                                                    
     necessarily  the  values  today.   ...  We  don't  have                                                                    
     slavery ...  we've got a  lot of different  things that                                                                    
     we incorporate  in diversity today.   Women didn't have                                                                    
     the right to vote - those kinds of things.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  pointed out  that lacking a  definition of                                                               
American  Constitutionalism,  and  addressing  it  by  the  named                                                               
documents, which are peripheral to the  ism, as well as lacking a                                                               
clear statutory definition of what  values are to be taught under                                                               
the rubric, may invite challenges from the districts.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  disagreed,   but  acknowledged  that  the                                                               
values are not defined in the  bill.  He maintained that the term                                                               
"American Constitutionalism"  is a  definable term, and  the bill                                                               
is  to require  the instruction  of how  the U.S.  government was                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON argued  that the term is  not commonly used                                                               
and said it  would be important to prevent  a misunderstanding of                                                               
what is to be taught by inserting a definition in the bill.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER underscored  the intent  to provide  broad                                                               
language,  and   thus,  allow  latitude   to  the   local  school                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  maintained  his  concern  to  have  clear                                                               
language  regarding  what  is  to  be  taught,  in  the  proposed                                                               
statute.  Additionally, he asked  why the Alaskan Constitution is                                                               
not  included  in  the  list  of  source  documents;  Section  3,                                                               
subsection (a).                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  responded that  it would change  the scope                                                               
of the bill, and allowed  that the committee has the jurisdiction                                                               
to amend the working draft.   Some teachers may choose to include                                                               
the Alaskan Constitution, but he said:                                                                                          
     This is  a mandate  to teach history,  and some  of the                                                                    
     circumstances,   stories,   values  and   things   that                                                                    
     surround a fifteen year block  of history in the United                                                                    
     States of America.                                                                                                         
8:52:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  said that  the intent  is not  clearly                                                               
stated in the bill.  She said:                                                                                                  
     I'm  not sure  that what  you really  want is  what the                                                                    
     bill  says.  ... You  just  want  ... American  history                                                                    
     taught  with   the  start  of  the   context  of  these                                                                    
     documents.    That  could  mean  just  going  over  the                                                                    
     documents  pretty  quickly  and  then  going  onto  ...                                                                    
     [other] American history.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  said the bill  is very clear  and directed                                                               
attention to page  2 lines 20-25, and  read [original punctuation                                                               
     An   approved   syllabus   must  ensure   a   students'                                                                    
     understanding    of    the    history    of    American                                                                    
     constitutionalism  as portrayed  in the  Declaration of                                                                    
     Independence,  the   first  state   constitutions,  the                                                                    
     Articles  of  Confederation,  the Constitution  of  the                                                                    
     United  States,  the  Federalist Papers,  the  Bill  of                                                                    
     Rights, and other historical  documents produced in the                                                                    
     founding  of  our   constitutional  republic  model  of                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON maintained  concern for the  intent not                                                               
being clearly stated.                                                                                                           
CHAIR DICK  interjected that  the intent of  the committee  is to                                                               
continue public discussion and consideration of HB 5.                                                                           
8:55:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention  to the committee packet                                                               
to point that  the Mat-Su Borough School District  has provided a                                                               
resolution recommending  that the legislature mandate  a required                                                               
half credit  course be taught  in civics, focused on  the Alaskan                                                               
Constitution,   the   U.S.   Constitution  documents,   and   the                                                               
Declaration  of Independence.    The  district supports  teaching                                                               
these  documents  along  with  civics,  but  the  bill  indicates                                                               
teaching the values  held by the people, during  the fifteen year                                                               
period when  the documents were  created.   He noted that  the CS                                                               
does  not appear  to  reflect the  resolution  points, and  asked                                                               
whether  the  Mat-Su  Borough School  District  could  choose  to                                                               
institute a half credit class, under current statute.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  said  that  the district  could  offer  a                                                               
class; however,  the resolution requests that  classes be offered                                                               
statewide, in a specific and consistent manner.                                                                                 
8:58:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DICK announced that the bill would be held.                                                                               

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