Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 106

03/07/2011 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:03:44 AM Start
08:15:11 AM Presentation(s): Sitka School District Superintendent
08:35:37 AM HB5
09:09:16 AM HB104
10:00:57 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation by Sitka School District TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
             HB 5-CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY CURRICULUM                                                                         
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."  [In front of the  committee was Version E, adopted as the                                                               
work draft on February 25, 2011.]                                                                                               
8:35:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WES KELLER provided a  brief overview of the bill,                                                               
as previously heard, and stated that it was:                                                                                    
     A mandate  on school districts  to teach the  values of                                                                    
     American   constitutionalism   as  portrayed   in   the                                                                    
     Declaration   of   Independence,  the   early   states'                                                                    
     constitutions,  the Articles  of Confederation,  the US                                                                    
     Constitution, the Federalist, and the Bill of Rights.                                                                      
He cited  the current world affairs  as a reason for  his request                                                               
of  this bill  at  this  time.   He  extolled  the importance  of                                                               
understanding  the idea  of inalienable  rights,  as they  differ                                                               
from the  human rights bestowed  by governments.  He  pointed out                                                               
that it was a very broad history mandate, a "mandate-lite."                                                                     
CHAIR DICK indicated his concern for an unfunded mandate.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER replied  that  he shared  the concern  but                                                               
that proposed HB  5 was to a  very high level of  importance.  He                                                               
opined that  many districts already  complied, and  that proposed                                                               
HB 5 was a focal point and was "worthy of doing."                                                                               
8:40:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked what  version of proposed HB 5 was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER replied that it was Version E.                                                                            
8:40:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  remarked that Maslow's Hierarchy  of Needs                                                               
was more important  than the constitution, and she  asked if this                                                               
bill could be  addressed after the basics  of survival, including                                                               
schooling, were resolved.                                                                                                       
8:42:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER clarified  that proposed  HB 5  was not  a                                                               
mandate to teach the US Constitution,  but to teach the values of                                                               
American constitutionalism,  with the documents  to be used  as a                                                               
source of information.  In  response to Representative Cissna, he                                                               
agreed that survival  was a priority, but that  the importance of                                                               
these  values was  akin to  the  most fundamental  core needs  of                                                               
Americans.  He emphasized that  some of the resources supplied to                                                               
schools needed  to be  "directed at  preserving the  knowledge of                                                               
these values."                                                                                                                  
8:44:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   reminded  that  earlier   discussion  of                                                               
proposed HB  5 had clarified  that the  bill was not  mandating a                                                               
civics classes,  but centered  on teaching values.   He  asked if                                                               
the purpose of  proposed HB 5 was to teach  "the values that were                                                               
in those 15 year time span."                                                                                                    
8:45:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER agreed  that  the bill  was  not a  civics                                                               
mandate;  it was  a history  mandate to  teach and  emphasize the                                                               
values  of  American  constitutionalism   found  in  these  early                                                               
8:47:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DICK questioned  whether a school district  which offered a                                                               
five minute  course with  a one  question examination  would meet                                                               
the criteria of the bill.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER, in  response, stated  that it  would meet                                                               
the criteria, but not the intent of the bill.                                                                                   
8:47:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DICK opined that the  proposed HB 5 mandated a conversation                                                               
between a school district and its community.                                                                                    
8:48:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  offered his vision  for this bill to  be a                                                               
graduation requirement and a catalyst for community discussion.                                                                 
8:48:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON noted  that discussion during  the four                                                               
previous hearings on the bill  had included the unfunded mandate,                                                               
and  the  graduation  requirement.    She  asked  for  a  further                                                               
definition to American constitutionalism.                                                                                       
8:50:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  replied that  American  constitutionalism                                                               
was defined in the early 19th  century as a term referring to the                                                               
unique  American values  and it  was a  broad term,  purposefully                                                               
selected to allow districts teaching latitude.                                                                                  
8:52:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI, reflecting  on  current world  affairs,                                                               
shared that  the Egyptian constitution  was one of the  oldest in                                                               
the world,  and he listed  the freedoms  it enumerated.   He also                                                               
listed many of  the freedoms written in  the Libyan constitution.                                                               
He  suggested that  it was  necessary to  study and  compare with                                                               
other constitutions,  but that he did  not want a mandate,  or to                                                               
teach to a  test.  He offered his belief  that students needed to                                                               
be taught more critical thinking skills.                                                                                        
8:55:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DICK opened public testimony.                                                                                             
8:55:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CAROL COMEAU,  Superintendent, Anchorage School  District, agreed                                                               
with   the  importance   for  students   to  understand   the  US                                                               
Constitution,  the founding  documents, and  the values  on which                                                               
the United States  was based.  She emphasized  that the Anchorage                                                               
School Board and  the administration were opposed  to proposed HB                                                               
5  as   it  was  an   unnecessary  mandate  with   many  negative                                                               
ramifications.   She listed the civics  courses already required,                                                               
and that the proposed bill  would only create additional barriers                                                               
for students.                                                                                                                   
8:57:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DICK expressed  a concern  about "folks  that are  here in                                                               
this country without  a knowledge of the rules by  which the rest                                                               
of  us  play."    He  asked  when  students  would  receive  this                                                               
8:58:14 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  COMEAU replied  that she  was not  privy to  the immigration                                                               
status  of students  and  that she  was  not knowledgeable  about                                                               
illegal   students.     She  pointed   out  that   naturalization                                                               
ceremonies  revealed  the  value   of  the  US  Constitution  and                                                               
citizenship.  She  offered her belief that many  students born in                                                               
the United States  did not have this knowledge.   She opined that                                                               
it was necessary to work  through the current curriculum, and not                                                               
add an additional mandatory test.                                                                                               
9:00:00 AM                                                                                                                    
BILL  MCLEOD, Superintendent,  Dillingham  City School  District,                                                               
stated that proposed  HB 5 did not  meet any of the  needs in his                                                               
district,  as  there  was  already a  course  and  curriculum  on                                                               
government.     He  paraphrased   the  Alaska  Standards   for  a                                                               
government  class  and  pointed  out the  similarities  of  these                                                               
requirements  to  proposed  HB  5.   He  lauded  the  concept  of                                                               
proposed HB  5, but stated  that it  was already being  taught in                                                               
the schools.                                                                                                                    
9:02:56 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  THIELBAR,  PhD,  Superintendent, Skagway  School  District,                                                               
Board  Member,   SERRC  (Southeast  Regional   Resource  Center),                                                               
testified that  the Skagway  School District  was opposed  to the                                                               
unfunded regulation of proposed HB  5 as it required oversight at                                                               
many levels  to a  curriculum which was  already mandated  by the                                                               
State of Alaska.                                                                                                                
[HB 5 was held over.]                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Memo re Constitutionalism.pdf HEDC 3/7/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 5
CSHB 5 Version E.pdf HEDC 3/7/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 5
CSHB 5 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 3/7/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 5
District APS Course Survey.pdf HEDC 3/7/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 104
Workforce Investment Board Resolution.pdf HEDC 3/7/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 104