Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/11/1994 09:00 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS introduced SB 136 (NATIVE LANGUAGE EDUCATION) as the next order of business. Number 075 WILLIE ANDERSON, representing NEA-Alaska, stated their support for SB 136. He said it is clear it is an issue that needs to be addressed, because it is clear that the Native languages in Alaska have been slowly dying out and should be part of the school curriculum. Number 095 CHARLES KASHATOK, representing the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) and testifying from Bethel, stated the district's support for SB 136, with the exception of the requirement to utilize University of Alaska instructors and instructional materials. He pointed out that the LKSD currently employs approximately 50 certificated Yupik teachers, about 45 of whom speak the Yupik language, and that LKSD has a well-established language program for which they have developed the materials themself. He stated the district's support for the requirement that the evaluation of the district's Native language curriculum be included in the annual report card, and that the decision to require a Native languages education curriculum be made at the school level. Number 135 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the language is being taught in his district at this time. MR. KASHATOK responds that 23 of the district's 26 sites have Native language programs. Number 150 SENATOR TAYLOR asked what difference SB 136 would make in LKSD, since Native language education has already been implemented. MR. KASHATOK replies that the legislation would require his district to use materials and teachers from the University of Alaska, when LKSD already had their own materials and teachers. Other than that, SB 136 would simply give support to what LKSD is already doing. Number 168 SENATOR GEORGIANNA LINCOLN, prime sponsor of SB 136, wants to make clear that SB 136 is not legislation for bilingual education, but for Native language education. Number 195 SENATOR LINCOLN proposes the bill be amended to allow school districts more option in implementing Native language education. She reads from a statement from the University of Alaska, Interior Campus which states that the actions of school boards and school administrators do not always reflect the wishes of the community. This is the prime reason she thinks there is a need for SB 136. Number 277 SENATOR TAYLOR comments that it appears Senator Lincoln's proposed amendments would in effect change the bill so that it would not have any impact on school districts at all. SENATOR LINCOLN replies that the bill would still have the effect of giving school boards the option of establishing local Native language curriculum advisory boards and would make it easier for districts to get funding for native language education programs by emphasizing the importance of such programs. Number 335 SENATOR LEMAN asks if there will be a problem for districts in which more than one Native language is spoken. SENATOR LINCOLN replies that, at least in the beginning of a Native language program, only the predominant language of the community will be taught. Number 372 REVA SHIRCEL, Director of Education, Tanana Chiefs Conference, is concerned that there is no fiscal note to support programs arising from SB 136. She advocates the following changes to the legislation: the requirement that school boards establish native language advisory boards for every school in its district in which there are native students - this would be a statewide requirement for all districts, including Anchorage, which has a large Native population; that local advisory school boards may also be Native language curriculum advisory boards; that students whose origin is not that of the predominant Native language also have the opportunity to learn their language. Number 427 BARB PUNGOWIYI, Native Program Coordinator, Nome Public Schools, supports SB 136, which she thinks would help insure the survival of Native languages. She reads a statement from a paper written by Carol Napoleon which states that Native people are not trying to undermine the State of Alaska. MS. PUNGOWIYI suggests that the Nome Native Education Committee also be allowed to serve as the Native language curriculum advisory board. She also advocates active participation in non-public schools. Number 455 CHUCK MILLER, Tanana Chiefs Conference, supports SB 136 because to be an Alaska Native and not be able to speak one's language feels as though there is something missing. He says our language is the basis of our culture, and if our language disappears, he fears that the traditional ways will soon follow. Number 481 CAROL HUNTINGTON, Galena School District, is in favor of SB 136. She mentions anger over anti-Native language and cultural policies practiced by educational agencies (teleconference transmission unclear, unable to decipher). Number 494 ESTHER ILUTSIK, Eskimo, Certified Teacher from Aleknagik, supports the bill because she has found there are many administrators and educators who do not value the Yupik language or culture and who do not support bicultural education. She adds that she hopes guidelines for serving on a Native language curriculum advisory board would not exclude certified Native teachers from serving. Number 509 RICHARD THOMAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference, supports SB 136 because he thinks if teaching the language is not begun soon, it will perish along with the traditions. Number 517 MICHAEL KRAUSS, Director, Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, strongly supports SB 136 and hopes that it will be passed. He urges people to understand the limitations of most types of language programs. The Alaska Native Language Center is most supportive of this legislation. Number 530 SENATOR TAYLOR asks Mr. Krauss if this legislation does not mandate anything, how it will change the current situation. MR. KRAUSS responds that HB 136 is the only way to get programs started out in the communities by increasing the outreach of the Alaska Native Language Center. Number 541 MOLLY PETERSON, Inupiaq Language Staff Developer, North Slope Borough School District, thinks that school districts should be required to have Native language programs. The communities need the state's help in this matter. Number 571 VINCE BARRY, Department of Education, states that the department supports the concept of SB 136, however they are not interested in imposing any curriculum. He notes for the record that ANNE KESSLER, an expert in bilingual/bicultural education is in attendance if anyone has any questions. Number 578 SENATOR TAYLOR asks Mr. Barry to clarify the department's stand on SB 136. MR. BARRY responds that the department supports the legislation so long as it does not establish mandatory requirements for curriculum. The department generally does not support mandatory requirements for curriculum of any kind. Number 580 SENATOR ZHAROFF asks Mr. Barry what effect making the legislation non-mandatory would have on the fiscal note. MR. BARRY describes language programs and says that the fiscal note is based on the six school districts that currently do not have bilingual programs starting such programs. Number 560 SENATOR TAYLOR asks why the programs Mr. Barry just talked about are held as extra-curricular activities, and not as part of the school day. MR. BARRY replies that the time of day the program is held is optional, and the second year the program was in operation it was held during the day. There is nothing in law that prevents what this bill intends to do; this bill would simply encourage Native language programs and clarify the support of such programs. Number 553 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks Mr. Barry if there is any way to estimate the fiscal impact this legislation would have on local school districts. MR. BARRY responds that he will have to find out and get back to Senator Randy Phillips regarding that question. Number 554 SENATOR ADAMS requests that the bill not be held up in committee while waiting for the information The Chairman just requested. Number 554 VINCE BARRY comments that the fiscal note does accurately reflect the fiscal impact the bill would have as it relates to bilingual education. Number 534 ANNE KESSLER, Department of Education, Bilingual Programs, says that the department proposes a cost of $60,000 per site to develop a new Native language program in a site that does not currently have one. Under the criteria of the bill, the department came up with 63 sites eligible for this program. Number 525 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks Ms. Kessler to make the previously mentioned information available to the committee as soon as possible. Number 524 SENATOR ADAMS notes that the previously mentioned fiscal information applies only to those sites that want a Native language program, and that participation by sites is not mandatory. The program would not necessarily cost the state $3,780,000. Number 515 SENATOR ZHAROFF asks Ms. Kessler how many students are necessary to initiate a bilingual program within a school district. MS. KESSLER replies that currently districts are required to provide a program if they have eight or more students who are of limited English proficiency. SENATOR ZHAROFF asks Ms. Kessler to define bilingual program. MS. KESSLER responds that it is a program that serves students who have limited proficiency in English, but that there is no simple definition of "bilingual program". SENATOR ZHAROFF asks Ms. Kessler to define "development of curriculum". MS. KESSLER says that means instructor training, materials development, and instruction. Number 500 SENATOR ZHAROFF comments that he thinks people from the community with a basis in both languages should perhaps be able to come in to the classroom as teachers aides to work with the students, which might be a less costly alternative. MS. KESSLER replies that it could be a less costly alternative, but would vary district to district. She states that the salary schedule for this type of person varies quite a bit, depending on how each particular district classifies these people. If the person from the community acquires a Type E certification from the department, which is recognized expert status, they may actually be paid at a rate equal to or greater than the rate paid to a teacher. Number 484 SENATOR ZHAROFF asks how the Department of Education came up with a figure of $60,000 per district for implementing Native language programs. MS. KESSLER responds that the figure the department came up with is based on the unit cost that districts get for bilingual education, so the figure could potentially be less at some sites. She also comments that the figure could be refined. Number 475 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS announced that the committee will hold SB 136.