Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

04/14/2021 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:01:14 AM Start
08:02:17 AM Presentation: School District Perspectives and Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower Kuskokwim, and Unalaska School Districts
09:38:48 AM HB25
10:05:06 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: School District Perspectives & TELECONFERENCED
Updates; Looking Ahead by Anchorage, Lower
Kuskokwim, & Unalaska City School Districts
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Moved HB 25 Out of Committee
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Topics & Questions.pdf HEDC 4/14/2021 8:00:00 AM