Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106
04/14/2021 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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|Presentation: School District Perspectives and Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower Kuskokwim, and Unalaska School Districts|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 25-PUBLIC SCHOOLS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING 9:38:48 AM CO-CHAIR STORY announced that the next order of business would be HB 25, "An Act relating to the duties of the state Board of Education and Early Development; relating to statewide standards for instruction in social-emotional learning; and providing for an effective date." 9:39:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS, as prime sponsor of HB 25, noted the relevance of the previous panel discussion. He said each superintendent discussed the need to address students' social and emotional concerns and the impacts from that last twelve months. He offered that HB 25 would create guidelines to help districts implement new programs or expand what was already in place. REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS suggested that many of these plans are going to have to be implemented over the next two years using American Rescue Plan Act funds. He said [the proposed legislation would help educators] teach things like coping skills, resiliency, self-restraint, cooperation, how to overcome obstacles, how to set and achieve goals, how to identify and adjust one's own emotions, and how to understand others' reactions and emotions. He stated [these are skills] that industry wants and employers seek. He noted that the legislation does not create any mandates, but school districts want these standards in place. REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS said social and emotional skills are one third of Alaska's Education Challenge under which the Dunleavy Administration has been working. He noted that the committee had heard from DEED that this is the most requested topic regarding professional development for educators. He said this would include working with families, and supplement and support the home environment. He concluded, saying HB 25 is what districts want, what DEED was working towards, and what parents worried about during the school closures of COVID-19. He stated that the proposed legislation had a small fiscal note and would be partially paid for by the American Rescue Plan Act. 9:44:10 AM CO-CHAIR STORY asked for clarification on the fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS answered that the fiscal note includes $6,000 for legal work to implement the regulations, a $1,500 stipend to pay educators from around the state who would travel to develop standards, and $30,000 to hire a consultant to guide the discussion. 9:45:33 AM The committee took an at-ease from 9:45 a.m. to 9:46: a.m. 9:45:53 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND moved to report HB 25 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. . 9:46:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX objected. REPRESENTATIVE PRAX said he agreed that the skills emphasized are important to learn; however, he said he was unsure about a number of things. He said the proposed legislation reminded him of "missionary work," and referenced Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution of the State of Alaska, which includes the passage, "Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution." He acknowledged that this likely referenced licensed religious institutions but argued that this was functional, and the legislature would be imposing cultural changes. He opined that the state should not establish standards, rather, [the standards] should develop organically and locally within families and communities. REPRESENTATIVE PRAX said in recent Alaska history a "new culture was being imposed on an existing culture." He said he was involved with this work in the 1980s, and he felt it was a mistake to implement rapid cultural change. He said he noticed that very resilient people were "becoming less resilient by focusing deliberately on these standards, instead of just letting these skills develop organically." He argued that when it started to be a deliberate effort, people became "sanitized," and work was "less enjoyable; we were more apprehensive and afraid of each other and not as able to respond to the little challenges." REPRESENTATIVE PRAX argued that trying to change culture too rapidly from the top down is the wrong approach. He referenced testimony from a previous meeting and argued that the ideas in the proposed legislation are already being implemented without top-down direction. He said he felt Alaska would be better in the long run if this were to develop organically. He asserted that it would be a requirement, even if it were not mandated, and referenced the enactment of COVID-19 safety protocols. 9:52:43 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY commented that she supports moving HB 25 from committee. She considered the proposed legislation to be both timely and age appropriate and said that it considers the diversity of environments outside of the classroom from which students originate. She disputed Representative Prax's claim that this was similar to missionary work and shared her experience as an Alaska Native woman whose family was impacted by colonization. She said, "I take umbridge with the fact that ... this is being classified as imposing any sort of cultural changes." She countered that HB 25 looked to develop a set of skills for students to utilize throughout their lives and felt it would be inaccurate to classify it as cultural integration from the top down. REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY said that the need in Alaska is great [for social/emotional learning (SEL) support] and commented that there is a big gap in behavioral health support at the state level. She stated her belief that by investing in resources that provide tools as part of prevention, the state will save money on the "back end" of treating Alaskans that are going to be in most need of critical behavioral health crisis resources, or even correctional resources. 9:56:03 AM REPRESENTATIVE CRONK stated he had received numerous emails against HB 25. He opined that "the number one thing we can do is get our kids back in school." He argued that kids need to be around other kids, without plexiglass, and back to normal. He said his experience as a rural educator taught him to listen to local needs but pointed out that HB 25 would be top-down guidance, which he opposes. He said that although he supported school districts locally, he opposed the proposed legislation, because he believed the state shouldn't be making these decisions. He summarized his argument that he is a firm believer in local control because different communities have different beliefs. 9:58:24 AM CO-CHAIR STORY commented that her understanding was that learning requires dealing with social and emotional needs, but many districts do not have guidelines in place for instruction. She shared that she saw the proposed legislation as a mechanism to provide that. She argued that with local control, districts would have a set of guidelines from best practices that the districts could choose how to use. 9:59:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS reiterated that the proposed legislation was not a mandate, rather it would set standards that are meant to be flexible for school districts at the local level. He said it was districts at the lower level that requested the standards be put in place, in order to help with expanding curriculums and providing professional development. REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS said that he agreed that getting students back in school is one of the most important things that could be done. He commented that students spend most of their days in school settings, and that knowing how to interact is critical, especially after a year away. He argued that HB 25 would make those interactions better, healthier, and more productive. He stated this was not a top-down directive; it was guidelines for districts to use, which is a bottom-up approach that allows for local control. REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS nodded to a previous conversation with Representative Prax and acknowledged that it is difficult to teach older adults in the workforce new skills and to have a cultural shift in a workplace overnight. He argued that those skills must be taught earlier. He said helping school districts know how to guide educators and teach those skills to children is the best way to ensure it is not a "fast shift" and to ensure that students have the skills when they reach the workplace. 10:03:09 AM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Zulkosky, Hopkins, Drummond, and Story voted in favor of the motion to report HB 25 out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal notes. Representatives Prax, Cronk, and Gillham voted against it. Therefore, HB 25 was reported out of the House Education Standing Committee by a vote of 4-3.
|Topics & Questions.pdf||
HEDC 4/14/2021 8:00:00 AM