Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 106
03/30/2011 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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|Presentation(s): Superintendent Lower Yukon School District|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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] 8:53:02 AM REPRESENTATIVE WES KELLER, Alaska State Legislature, directed attention to the closing remarks from Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti during his State of the Judiciary address. [Included in members' packets] He referred to the principles of democracy, and stated that HB 5 would mandate Alaska high school curriculum for US history during the fifteen years immediately following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 8:54:38 AM CHAIR DICK closed public testimony. 8:54:58 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT moved to report CSHB 5, Version 27- LS0018\E, Mischel, 2/24/11, from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal note. 8:55:18 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected. He said that proposed HB 5 put another segment of curriculum, another test, and further requirements on the school districts. He declared that the bill was not concise with its curriculum requirements and that he was not in favor of establishing vague testing to meet criteria. 8:57:32 AM REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON moved to adopt a conceptual amendment. 8:57:57 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON withdrew his objection. 8:57:59 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT withdrew his motion to move the bill. 8:58:00 AM REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON withdrew her motion to adopt a conceptual amendment. 8:59:27 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT asked Representative Seaton for clarification of his concerns. 8:59:56 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied that HB 5 added an "amorphous curriculum requirement" with a test, which was yet to be developed, to which passage was necessary for high school graduation. He stated that this placed a huge burden on the school districts. He opined that the high school graduation exam was already an issue. He pointed out that proposed HB 5 was not a statewide standard, but a standard to be developed by each district. He questioned whether it was the most productive use of time to develop a curriculum to discuss the values held during a 15 year segment of history and require it for high school graduation. 9:03:24 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT asked if the proposed bill could be amended to provide instruction without testing. 9:03:55 AM CHAIR DICK offered his understanding that the proposed bill empowered community members to confront local school boards regarding the importance of this topic. He opined that the mandate was for a conversation. 9:05:27 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied that the requirement was not for a conversation, but for a test that was required to receive a high school diploma. He pointed out that the high school qualifying exam was a requirement for receiving a diploma, and that HB 5 required another "high stakes test" which was not precisely defined, as written in subsection (b), page 2, lines 26-28. 9:07:21 AM REPRESENTATIVE FEIGE stated that, as the proposed bill imposed a requirement on school districts, it was necessary to define its intent. He opined that the intent was to ensure that a student graduated with a basic understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the United States. He offered his belief that the principles of the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence were the uniting factors for the United States. He declared the necessity to understand these principles in order to exercise the privilege of voting. 9:10:28 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT offered Conceptual Amendment 1, which stated: Page 1, line 2, Delete "and examination" Page 2, line 19, Delete "and final examination" Page 2, line 27 Delete "and examination" 9:11:20 AM CHAIR DICK objected for discussion. 9:11:35 AM REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked if the proposed conceptual amendment would allow the development of course curricula without the test. 9:11:59 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT replied that "the chief school administrator of a school district shall [develop] and submit to the governing body of the school district a syllabus for curriculum in the history of American constitutionalism." He explained that it would require each school district to create its own curriculum, but that a final examination would not be required for high school graduation. 9:12:37 AM REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA expressed a necessity to maintain the priority for increasing the number of high school graduates. 9:13:35 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT expressed disagreement with the concept of increasing the graduation rate, if it meant that students were less educated. He stated his desire to be that "we've given them all the tools they need to succeed." He opined that this was "a good opportunity to help our kids be prepared as they step out into the real world and become a part of society." 9:14:52 AM REPRESENTATIVE FEIGE endorsed a need to demand a high standard for faculty and students in order to obtain improvement and performance from students. 9:15:57 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON declared that the proposed bill did not state high standards, it designated some standards. He offered his belief that the values of the American people during the writing of the Articles of Confederation and the first state constitutions were not generally known. He agreed that it was a good academic exercise to read these documents, but he opined that it would be difficult to be tested on the values of the people during that era. He expressed approval for the removal of the examinations, as the segment could then be adopted into a theme-base curriculum. He stated that he would vote for the proposed amendment, but that he was not supportive of the proposed bill. 9:19:17 AM REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON stated her support for the proposed amendment, but she expressed her concern with making a mandate to the schools. She opined that the suggested topics should be taught in the schools, but that she did not support a mandatory test of the curriculum as a graduation requirement. She offered her belief that examinations should include a bit of everything that was being taught. She stated her support for proposed HB 5. 9:20:40 AM REPRESENTATIVE KELLER stated his opposition to the proposed amendment, and directed attention to page 2, line 18, stating that the curriculum and the examination were to be submitted to the governing body of the school district for approval. He offered his belief that the proposed amendment weakened the bill as the local school board would not be allowed the opportunity to discuss the curriculum. He declared an obligation to young voters to ensure that they understood their responsibilities. 9:22:15 AM REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON suggested that many parents would not support this examination. 9:23:00 AM CHAIR DICK stated his opposition to the proposed amendment as "it takes the teeth out of the bill." 9:24:03 AM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI removed his objection. 9:24:13 AM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Kawasaki, P. Wilson, Seaton, Cissna, and Pruitt voted in favor of Conceptual Amendment 1. Representatives Feige and Dick voted against it. Therefore, Conceptual Amendment 1 passed by a vote of 5-2. REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT moved to report CSHB 5, Version 27- LS0018\E, Mischel, 2/24/11, as amended, from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 5(EDC) was reported from the House Education Standing Committee.