Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

04/10/2013 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 10, 2013                                                                                         
                           9:01 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Lynn Gattis, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Lora Reinbold, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 197                                                                                                              
"An  Act requiring  the  establishment of  a  reading program  in                                                               
school   districts  for   grades   kindergarten  through   three;                                                               
providing  for student  retention in  grade three;  and providing                                                               
for a report on the reading program and on student retention."                                                                  
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 189                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to hazing."                                                                                                    
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 197                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LITERACY PROGRAM                                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) LEDOUX                                                                                            
04/02/13       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/02/13       (H)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
04/08/13       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/08/13       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
04/10/13       (H)       EDC AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
BILL: HB 189                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HAZING                                                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                    
03/27/13       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/27/13       (H)       EDC, JUD                                                                                               
04/08/13       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/08/13       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
04/10/13       (H)       EDC AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
LISA VAUGHT, Staff                                                                                                              
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 197, on behalf of                                                                           
Representative LeDoux, prime sponsor.                                                                                           
MIKE HANLEY, Commissioner                                                                                                       
Department of Education and Early Development (EED)                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified and answered questions the                                                                     
discussion of HB 197.                                                                                                           
BOB GRIFFIN, Education Research Volunteer                                                                                       
Alaska Policy Forum                                                                                                             
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the discussion of HB 197.                                                               
ELIZABETH DOWNING, Vice President                                                                                               
Board of Education                                                                                                              
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD)                                                                                 
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the discussion of HB 197.                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HB 189, as prime sponsor.                                                                     
TULLY MCLOUGHLIN, Staff                                                                                                         
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:      Explained   the   proposed   committee                                                             
substitute, Version O, on behalf of Representative Kreiss-                                                                      
Tomkins, sponsor of HB 189.                                                                                                     
JEFFREY MITTMAN, Executive Director                                                                                             
American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska (ACLU-Alaska)                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 189.                                                                          
GARY MATTHEWS, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA)                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Testified  in support  of  the  committee                                                             
substitute for HB 189.                                                                                                          
BRUCE JOHNSON, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA)                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 189.                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
9:01:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  GATTIS called the House  Education Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to  order  at  9:01 a.m.    Representatives  P.  Wilson,                                                               
Drummond, LeDoux, Reinbold,  and Gattis were present  at the call                                                               
to  order.   Representatives Saddler  and Seaton  arrived as  the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
                    HB 197-LITERACY PROGRAM                                                                                 
9:01:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  197, "An  Act requiring  the establishment  of a                                                               
reading  program  in  school districts  for  grades  kindergarten                                                               
through three;  providing for student  retention in  grade three;                                                               
and providing for a report on  the reading program and on student                                                               
9:02:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX,  speaking  as  the  sponsor  of  HB  197,                                                               
paraphrased  from a  prepared statement,  which  read as  follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
      This legislation seeks first to establish a reading                                                                       
     program in school districts for grades K through 3.                                                                        
     According to a  study by the Annie  E Casey Foundation,                                                                    
     literacy  in third  grade affects  the  chances that  a                                                                    
     student  will  graduate  from  high   school.    It  is                                                                    
     imperative  that  we  take action  to  make  sure  that                                                                    
     Alaska's children can  read at grade level  or above by                                                                    
     third grade.                                                                                                               
     This  bill  requires  regular assessments  to  identify                                                                    
     students who  are not at  grade level and  to remediate                                                                    
     the deficiency as quickly as possible.                                                                                     
     Additionally, this bill  provides early notification to                                                                    
     parents and  information on how  they can  assist their                                                                    
     HB 197  also provides for  retention in 3rd grade  if a                                                                    
     student  does not  meet  the  required minimum  reading                                                                    
     standards.   This would eliminate social  promotion and                                                                    
     make it literacy based promotion.                                                                                          
9:03:45 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA  VAUGHT,  Staff,  Representative  Gabrielle  LeDoux,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB  197 on  behalf of  the sponsor,                                                               
Representative  LeDoux, paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,                                                               
which read, as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                         
     This legislation seeks to  require the establishment of                                                                    
     a  reading  program  in  school  districts  for  grades                                                                    
     Kindergarten  through 3  and for  student retention  in                                                                    
     grade 3 if a student  doesn't meet the required minimum                                                                    
     reading standards set forth by the state.                                                                                  
     Based on  an analysis of reading  scores and graduation                                                                    
     rates over  10 years,  students who  could not  read by                                                                    
     the end of  third grade were four times  more likely to                                                                    
     drop out of high school,  of those that dropped out 88%                                                                    
     were  struggling readers  in 3rd  grade.   The societal                                                                    
     impacts  and   costs  of   low  graduation   rates  are                                                                    
     profound. Research  shows a strong  correlation between                                                                    
     dropping out of high  school and lower lifetime income,                                                                    
     higher   use   of    public   assistance   and   higher                                                                    
     incarceration rates.   Estimates on the  total lifetime                                                                    
     cost  to  society  for  each  new  cohort  of  dropouts                                                                    
     accumulate into hundreds of billions of dollars.                                                                           
     Reading is  key to  closing the  achievement gap.   The                                                                    
     analysis found that  differences in reading achievement                                                                    
     explains  differences   in  graduation   rates  between                                                                    
     students  of different  races  and  ethnicities.   Poor                                                                    
     African-American   and   Hispanic  students   who   are                                                                    
     struggling  readers are  about 8  times more  likely to                                                                    
     drop  out  of  high  school  than  proficient  readers.                                                                    
     Conversely,  proficient  third  grade  readers  of  all                                                                    
     races graduate at similar rates.    89% of economically                                                                    
     disadvantaged  students  in  the  study,  who  achieved                                                                    
     proficient reading skills by 3rd grade, graduated.                                                                         
     Alaska, according  to National Assessment  of Education                                                                    
     Progress  (NAEP)  data rates  near  the  bottom in  4th                                                                    
     grade reading scores.  In  2011 only 25% of 4th-graders                                                                    
     in  Alaska were  "proficient"  or above  in reading  by                                                                    
     national  standards.   Children  who fail  to learn  to                                                                    
     read by third grade can  recover and catch up later but                                                                    
     it is a very painful and resource intensive process.                                                                       
     It is clear  that we need reform  in Alaska's education                                                                    
     system.  If we continue with  more of the status quo we                                                                    
     will continue with  the same results.  HB  197 seeks to                                                                    
     put  in place  a literacy  program in  school districts                                                                    
     around  the  state.     This  program requires  regular                                                                    
     reading   assessments   of    students   beginning   in                                                                    
     Kindergarten.  Participation  in statewide assessments,                                                                    
     elimination  of  social  promotions, and  provides  for                                                                    
     retention of students in 3rd  grade who are not reading                                                                    
     Many Alaska  school districts  currently engage  in the                                                                    
     practice   of  social   promotion.   This  means   that                                                                    
     children, regardless  of academic abilities  are passed                                                                    
     from  grade to  grade simply  to keep  them with  their                                                                    
     peers. However, each year, many  of them have failed to                                                                    
     learn  basic  literacy  skills in  the  developmentally                                                                    
     critical   grades.   Rather   than   addressing   these                                                                    
     problems,  a   social  promotion  simply   moves  these                                                                    
     students to  the next grade  level. This  is especially                                                                    
     destructive for children in  the early grades. Learning                                                                    
     to  read does  not get  easier with  age. As  a result,                                                                    
     illiterate  3rd graders  move on  to become  illiterate                                                                    
     4th  graders, and  then 5th  and 6th  and 7th  graders.                                                                    
     Third grade  is the year that  students transition from                                                                    
     "learning  to read"  to "reading  to learn."  Imagine a                                                                    
     5th grader, reading on a  2nd grade level, sitting in a                                                                    
     science  class.  These  students  will  not  grasp  the                                                                    
     vocabulary  and scientific  concepts  described in  the                                                                    
     textbooks because  they cannot read -  literally. Grade                                                                    
     level material  keeps increasing  year after  year, but                                                                    
     these  students  cannot  keep up  because  they  cannot                                                                    
     read.   These   students   have   been   described   as                                                                    
     disruptive,  restless  and  bored. They  often  do  not                                                                    
     finish  school, let  alone go  on to  college. We  must                                                                    
     take steps to change this outcome.                                                                                         
     Several   states    have   implemented   literacy-based                                                                    
     promotion.  One  of those states is Florida.    I would                                                                    
     like  to  point  you  to  the  document  provided  this                                                                    
     morning   called    Florida's   Education   Revolution.                                                                    
     Florida uses the  Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test                                                                    
     (FCAT)  to  measure  student progress.    There  are  5                                                                    
     achievement levels  and level 1 equates  to "functional                                                                    
     illiteracy".   On page 4  there is a graph  showing the                                                                    
     percentage  of students  retained  the  first year  the                                                                    
     policy  was implemented.   You  will notice  that there                                                                    
     was  a steady  decline in  number of  students retained                                                                    
     and a steady decline  in achievement level 1. Florida's                                                                    
     reading  scores  have  drastically improved  since  the                                                                    
     literacy-based  promotion  was  implemented.    It  was                                                                    
     combined   with  regular   assessments,  good   reading                                                                    
     instruction and intervention  in grades K-2, monitoring                                                                    
     programs and a parental involvement component.                                                                             
     Holding back  a child is  not an easy decision  but the                                                                    
     alternative  is to  move them  ahead and  hope for  the                                                                    
     best and  then watch them  struggle.  We can  do better                                                                    
     for  our  children than  that.    We  do not  help  our                                                                    
     children  by  passing them  on  without  the skills  to                                                                    
     become  successful adults.   I  have heard  it said  on                                                                    
     numerous occasions  that our  children are  our future.                                                                    
     We  pour  money into  education  so  we can  train  the                                                                    
     leaders  of tomorrow.   Let's  make sure  that we  give                                                                    
     them the tools to be  successful.  Let's make sure they                                                                    
     can read.  Let's close  the achievement gap and give as                                                                    
     many students  as possible the  chance to succeed.   HB
     197 seeks to do that.  I urge your support of HB 197.                                                                      
9:09:50 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department   of   Education    and   Early   Development   (EED),                                                               
acknowledged  the  importance  of reading  proficiency  by  third                                                               
grade.  He  said the fiscal note for the  state is zero; however,                                                               
it  will  cost  the  school  districts  additional  resources  to                                                               
accomplish the tasks and implement  strategies.  He characterized                                                               
the intervention  strategies in  the bill as  positive, including                                                               
that  school districts  should  provide  extended times,  smaller                                                               
student/teacher ratios,  and summer camps.   Despite the positive                                                               
nature of  the strategies,  HB 197  still represents  an unfunded                                                               
mandate unless  support is provided.   While  he said he  was not                                                               
speaking  against the  bill, he  cautioned that  the zero  fiscal                                                               
note  for  the bill  does  not  represent the  school  district's                                                               
implementation costs.                                                                                                           
9:11:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON offered that evidently  schools are not                                                               
currently conducting these strategies.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said some schools have  reading programs and                                                               
should  already be  diagnosing students,  but strategies  are not                                                               
necessarily being followed due to the cost of the programs.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  remarked  that  some school  districts                                                               
don't have the  ability to follow-up on services.   She asked for                                                               
clarification  on what  instituting summer  school would  mean to                                                               
the department.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY expressed  a  willingness to  be open  about                                                               
discussing  this issue.   He  offered  his belief  that to  offer                                                               
summer  school, every  K-3 elementary  school  would require  one                                                               
additional  staff  person,  one  literacy person,  to  allow  for                                                               
smaller groups,  intensive monitoring, and summer  programs or to                                                               
implement other strategies.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON honed  in on  the summer  school aspect                                                               
since many schools  don't have summer school.   She asked whether                                                               
these  school districts  would need  to spend  funds to  send the                                                               
students elsewhere or to hold the summer program.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY surmised  that if  a school  doesn't have  a                                                               
summer  school  they   would  not  require  the   student  to  go                                                               
elsewhere, but  the bill would  require schools to have  a summer                                                               
school.     From  his  experience   in  elementary   schools,  he                                                               
envisioned this would require districts  to provide a stipend for                                                               
a teacher to provide a summer program.                                                                                          
9:13:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  suggested that the bill  would result in                                                               
long-term  benefits.   Since dropouts  are more  likely to  be on                                                               
public assistance  or in  the prison  system, this  program could                                                               
save money in  the long term with better  educated, more socially                                                               
responsible adults.   She expressed concern  that the legislature                                                               
has repeatedly asked for more  information on current programs in                                                               
K-3  to   better  evaluate  them,   but  has  not   received  the                                                               
information.   She asked whether  private foundations would  be a                                                               
resource to support literacy in conjunction with schools.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  answered that the bill  specifically directs                                                               
school districts,  rather than the  state to take actions.   Thus                                                               
the  department wouldn't  implement the  strategies indicated  in                                                               
the bill.   While  partnering with private  entities is  always a                                                               
good strategy,  he suggested that some  long-term resources would                                                               
still be necessary to implement the strategies in the bill.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  asked for  outcome analysis  of existing                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the school  districts put  the programs                                                               
in place  and the department's role  is to set the  standards for                                                               
students to achieve  and allow school districts  to determine how                                                               
to  meet the  standards.    Therefore the  EED  does not  monitor                                                               
outcomes.  He  suggested that the school  districts could provide                                                               
information on current programs.                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS remarked  that Representative  Reinbold has  hit on                                                               
some  key  questions, which  the  committee  will be  working  on                                                               
during the legislative interim.                                                                                                 
9:16:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  expressed  ongoing frustration  that  a                                                               
zero fiscal note means the  department does not anticipate fiscal                                                               
impacts;  however, the  bill can  translate into  a huge  cost to                                                               
school districts.   In any case, this program appears  to be very                                                               
positive  and a  good direction  to move.   School  districts are                                                               
calling  for  reduced  pupil/teacher  ratios  and  tutoring,  but                                                               
school districts  can't do so  due to  funding issues.   In fact,                                                               
the  Anchorage School  District (ASD)  is cutting  summer schools                                                               
due  to  inadequate funding.    She  concurred with  Commissioner                                                               
Hanley  that  school  districts will  need  additional  funds  to                                                               
implement  the strategies  in the  bill.   She briefly  discussed                                                               
some   strategies  under   the  bill,   including  providing   an                                                               
additional  staff  person per  school,  or  about 500  additional                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  acknowledged  that   not  all  schools  are                                                               
elementary schools,  so he estimated  the figure might  be closer                                                               
to 400 schools.                                                                                                                 
9:18:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  referred to "social promotion"  and asked                                                               
whether a formal  policy exists.  He further asked  for any costs                                                               
for a student who is not advanced.                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said  there is not a  social promotion policy                                                               
based  on age;  however, some  practices exist  that may  place a                                                               
student in  a class  based on  age.  He  offered his  belief that                                                               
retention  is considered  seriously.   He related  a scenario  in                                                               
which  a student  is not  reading well  due to  dyslexia, but  is                                                               
proficient in other academic areas, such  as math or science.  He                                                               
asked whether it would be  considered social promotion to advance                                                               
the student  and offer individual  support in reading.   In fact,                                                               
schools make  decisions such  as this  all the  time.   A primary                                                               
correlation exists  between retention  and dropouts.   Naturally,                                                               
as  the child  ages, self-esteem  and peer  issues arise  and can                                                               
influence  the dropout  factors.   He  referred  to some  Florida                                                               
information on retention and promotion with good cause.                                                                         
9:20:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  for   clarification.    He  asked                                                               
whether this  means a student  being held  back is likely  not to                                                               
graduate at all.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded that according to research, yes.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  for  the number  of  students  in                                                               
Alaska who are not promoted each  year.  He further asked whether                                                               
this bill  would improve the  overall graduation level or  if the                                                               
costs would be greater than the benefits.                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER HANLEY predicted  that intervention strategies would                                                               
make a difference and have a  positive impact.  However, he urged                                                               
caution to proceed carefully when  defining good cause, and allow                                                               
promotion to occur depending on  other proficiencies, despite the                                                               
child lagging behind on literacy skills.                                                                                        
9:22:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  remarked that the programs  such as Best                                                               
Beginnings, Parents  as Teachers,  and other Pre-K  programs that                                                               
are diminishing  due to  funding.  She  suggested that  coming to                                                               
school ready to learn would avoid some issues.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY cautioned that  children don't start learning                                                               
in  Kindergarten  so  any  intervention  that  helps  them  be  a                                                               
success, socially and academically,  can result in a well-rounded                                                               
healthy child.                                                                                                                  
9:23:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   referred  to   page  3,  line   20,  to                                                               
subparagraph (A), which read,  "instructional strategies that are                                                               
research-based and employed daily for  at least 90 minutes at the                                                               
same time  each day; ...  "  He  was unsure  if this refers  to a                                                               
research-based  element.    He asked  for  clarification  on  the                                                               
importance of  having the instruction  provided at the  same time                                                               
each day.                                                                                                                       
MS. VAUGHT  answered that it helps  a student to have  a routine,                                                               
which could be good for the student.                                                                                            
9:24:08 AM                                                                                                                    
BOB GRIFFIN,  Education Research Volunteer, Alaska  Policy Forum,                                                               
referred to the committee handout  entitled," The Urgent Need for                                                               
K-12 Education Reform  in Alaska."  He stated that  the report is                                                               
one he  published, which  highlights the  urgent need  to improve                                                               
student outcomes  in elementary literacy.   He directed attention                                                               
to the bar  chart on the last page that  shows pretty clearly the                                                               
need for  significant action.   The chart on the  left, according                                                               
to NEA-Alaska figures, shows that  Alaska leads the nation in per                                                               
capita state and local spending on  K-12 education.  The chart on                                                               
the right  shows Alaska  is dead  last in  4th grade  reading for                                                               
upper  and middle  income  students, as  well  as for  low-income                                                               
students, based on 2011 EED figures.   He offered his belief that                                                               
elementary education  is a key  component of K-12 education.   In                                                               
addition,  third grade  literacy is  important in  terms of  high                                                               
school  graduation.   The  negative  impact  of not  promoting  a                                                               
student with peers  is addressed in the handout  published by the                                                               
Manhattan  Institute, No.  68 April  2012,  Civic Report,  titled                                                               
"The  Benefits of  Florida's Test-Based  Promotion  System."   He                                                               
explained  that  the  study uses  regression-distant  continuity,                                                               
which closely  examines Florida students,  who have  been tracked                                                               
since 2002.  The students  who were narrowly retained, who scored                                                               
slightly lower, significantly outperformed  the students who were                                                               
not retained.   In  any case,  there are  various studies  on the                                                               
social promotion,  but some good neurological  science shows that                                                               
learning  to read  by age  10 is  a pretty  important skill.   As                                                               
previously  stated, it  can be  an  expensive process  to try  to                                                               
teach these skills at a later age.                                                                                              
9:27:28 AM                                                                                                                    
ELIZABETH  DOWNING, Vice  President,  Board  of Education,  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula  Borough School  District (KPBSD),  also has  served on                                                               
the legislative  committee, as well  as on  her own behalf.   She                                                               
emphasized the  importance of attaining literacy  by third grade.                                                               
She pointed out the remediation plan  outlined in the bill may be                                                               
best practice, but it makes  sense to require school districts to                                                               
have a  literacy plan, verified  by EED to  significantly improve                                                               
literacy.  She stressed her preference  to leave it to the school                                                               
districts to  address the mechanics.   Granted, this prescriptive                                                               
bill may provide  a guideline, but as a school  board member, she                                                               
prefers  not to  have the  detailed strategies  in the  bill. One                                                               
area of  concern is the  requirement of retention in  third grade                                                               
or to offer a special class.   In fact, she asked whether this is                                                               
addressed  by differential  instruction  in the  classroom.   The                                                               
American  Academy  of  Pediatrics  and  John  Hopkins  University                                                               
Center  for  Public Health  both  warn  against retention.    The                                                               
negative impact  of retention is  similar to the  negative impact                                                               
of a student not learning to  read by third grade, which is often                                                               
exhibited when the  child becomes a teenager.  One  can imagine a                                                               
15-year-old in a class with  12-year-old or 13-year-old students.                                                               
She related  her own personal  experience, such that her  own son                                                               
was ill when he took a  high-stakes reading test in second grade.                                                               
Due to  his borderline  score, he was  recommended for  a reading                                                               
pull-out  program  in third  grade.    While she  understood  the                                                               
reason, she  anticipated he  would receive  additional attention,                                                               
which she  thought would  be fine.   Instead, during  his reading                                                               
time,  he  read  lower-level  books, but  he  brought  home  more                                                               
advanced books his peers were reading.   After two months, it was                                                               
apparent how  inappropriate it was for  him to be in  a pull out.                                                               
Even though he is now 16 and  a straight "A" student, he does not                                                               
view himself as  a reader.  He remembers that  he had a "problem"                                                               
when he  was in third grade,  which has had a  negative impact on                                                               
his self-perception  as a learner.   Again, she  recommended that                                                               
the  bill be  amended to  require school  districts to  develop a                                                               
plan to improve  literacy.  She cautioned  against a prescriptive                                                               
bill in place that could negatively impact school districts.                                                                    
9:32:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked her whether  the pull-out program                                                               
or grade retention would have had more negative impact.                                                                         
MS. DOWNING  responded she did not  think it would be  worse than                                                               
being retained; however,  so many strategies are  available as an                                                               
awareness  of  the  value  of  literacy by  third  grade  is  now                                                               
recognized.   Certainly,  the Best  Beginnings  program, and  the                                                               
Pre-K support  could make a  significant impact on  literacy into                                                               
K-2.  In  particular, students in Pre-K programs  that were Title                                                               
I eligible no longer needed special  pull-outs in K-2.  The state                                                               
has  just begun  to provide  this program,  but it  is not  doing                                                               
enough  for early  intervention;  however,  she anticipated  this                                                               
bill would  have a  huge impact  on the 4th  grade and  8th grade                                                               
[evaluations] in the next few years.                                                                                            
9:34:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced  that public testimony would  be kept open                                                               
and the bill would be held.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON related  she  previously  served as  a                                                               
school  nurse.   At that  time, it  was not  unusual to  retain a                                                               
child.   She remarked  she was struck  by the  consistent remarks                                                               
students would volunteer, such as  that they were in second grade                                                               
but  were supposed  to be  in third  grade.   She concluded  to a                                                               
great  extent,  students are  stigmatized  by  the effect.    She                                                               
stated support for HB 197.   She emphasized districts should have                                                               
programs  and plans  in  place to  support  reading, to  identify                                                               
students  who need  assistance, and  provide assistance  to avoid                                                               
having to retain  students.  The bill may need  some changes, but                                                               
she likes the bill.                                                                                                             
[HB 197 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                         HB 189-HAZING                                                                                      
9:37:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 189, "An Act relating to hazing."                                                                                
9:37:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    JONATHAN     KREISS-TOMKINS,    Alaska    State                                                               
Legislature,  speaking as  the  sponsor of  HB  189, stated  that                                                               
HB 189 would define and add hazing  to the criminal code, as well                                                               
as add  hazing to school  district policies across Alaska.   This                                                               
bill  has been  modeled on  legislation that  exists in  44 other                                                               
states.   He said that  hazing is a  problem in high  schools and                                                               
school environments.   He explained that it  is considered hazing                                                               
when  a group  of students  with power  and seniority  use it  to                                                               
coerce other  students in unpleasant  activities.   These actions                                                               
can  harm  the  students  emotionally and  physically.    He  has                                                               
personally observed this  in high school.  In  closing, this bill                                                               
would  bring Alaska  in line  with  44 other  states to  identify                                                               
hazing  as  a   problem.    He  has  worked  with   a  number  of                                                               
organizations on  the bill and Senator  Fairclough has introduced                                                               
a companion bill in the Senate.                                                                                                 
9:39:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  moved   the  committee  substitute  for                                                               
HB 189,  Version  O,  labeled  28-LS0672\O,  Strasbaugh,  4/9/13.                                                               
There being no objection, Version O was before the committee.                                                                   
9:40:03 AM                                                                                                                    
TULLY MCLOUGHLIN, Staff,  Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                               
Alaska   State   Legislature,   on   behalf   of   the   sponsor,                                                               
Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins,  explained  the  changes  to  the                                                               
original bill, in  the proposed committee substitute  (CS) for HB
189, Version O.                                                                                                                 
MR. MCLOUGHLIN referred to proposed  Section 1 of HB 189, Version                                                               
O, would  change "risk of  physical injury" to  "substantial risk                                                               
of serious  physical injury" to  better reflect the  language for                                                               
reckless  endangerment.   Basically, reckless  endangerment is  a                                                               
class A  misdemeanor, as is  hazing as defined  in the bill.   In                                                               
addition,  the   felony  provision  was  removed   after  holding                                                               
discussions with  the attorney general  since the level  of crime                                                               
would be covered elsewhere in the criminal code.                                                                                
MR. MCLOUGHLIN  referred to  proposed Section  1 (b),  Version O,                                                               
which would  delete the reference  to "normal and  customary" and                                                               
replace it  with "conduct  that is  reasonably expected  to occur                                                               
when  participating  in  athletic  physical  education,  military                                                               
training, or similar programs."   He explained that if a military                                                               
exercise  consisted of  a five-mile  run, the  participants could                                                               
not claim the routine exercise as hazing.                                                                                       
MR. MCLOUGHLIN referred  to proposed Section 7,  Version O, which                                                               
would  requires   a  school  employee,   or  volunteer   who  has                                                               
witnessed, or has reliable information  about an act of hazing to                                                               
report  the hazing  activity.   Version O  added language  that a                                                               
failure  to report  "shall"  result  in appropriate  disciplinary                                                               
MR.  MCLOUGHLIN  explained  that  proposed  Section  10  provides                                                               
definitions  to  AS   14.    Version  O  will   also  change  the                                                               
definitions in  AS 14  to match the  definitions in  the criminal                                                               
code, AS 11, in proposed Section 1  of HB 189.  He explained that                                                               
on page 3, line 21, [the  burden of proof for hazing] was changed                                                               
from  "intentional  act" to  "knowingly"  to  correspond [to  the                                                               
proof required  in Section 1  of HB 189,  which states "  ... the                                                               
person knowingly  engages ..."  and finally, on  page 4,  line 4,                                                               
the  language  is  changed  from the  language  in  the  original                                                               
version,  which  was  "normal  and   customary"  to  "an  act  or                                                               
situation  that is  reasonably expected  to  occur."   This is  a                                                               
conforming change.                                                                                                              
9:43:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD requested  specific  examples of  hazing                                                               
and whether the bill pertains to a specific age group in Alaska.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  cited  a situation  in  Sitka  in                                                               
which high school  seniors tied a group of freshman  to trees and                                                               
left  them.    He  explained the  bill was  suggested by  a Mount                                                               
Edgecombe  teacher.   Students at  Mount Edgecombe  were surveyed                                                               
and a number of them  related hazing incidents.  Additionally, in                                                               
Juneau, a  wrestling team recently  had untoward  physical hazing                                                               
from upper  classmen.  He  reported that nationwide  nearly half,                                                               
or 47 percent of high school students, have undergone hazing.                                                                   
9:45:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX suggested  that the  activity of  students                                                               
being  tied to  trees would  fall under  assault in  the existing                                                               
criminal code.                                                                                                                  
MR. MCLOUGHLIN  agreed that  assault is in  the criminal  code as                                                               
one means to  address the students left tied to  trees.  However,                                                               
the purpose of inserting hazing is  to clearly define hazing as a                                                               
deviation  from the  social  norm and  highlight  that hazing  is                                                               
wrong.  This bill would help  ensure that hazing is identified as                                                               
a crime,  specifically as it  pertains to the initiation  into or                                                               
affiliation  with a  student group.   The  sponsor emphasized  it                                                               
merited its own definition in criminal law.                                                                                     
9:47:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  for an  example of  hazing that  is                                                               
covered in  HB 189 that  would not be  considered a crime  in the                                                               
current criminal code.                                                                                                          
MR.  MCLOUGHLIN  answered  that he  couldn't  think  of  anything                                                               
specific.   The incidents of  hazing could fall under  any number                                                               
of crimes.   The class  A misdemeanor  penalties are the  same as                                                               
Assault in the  Second Degree.  However,  the criminal definition                                                               
in proposed  Section 1  is more restrictive  than one  offered in                                                               
the  one in  proposed Section  10.   This bill  would pertain  to                                                               
school   districts  and   schools  to   address  hazing   through                                                               
disciplinary actions.   He maintained  that 44 other  states have                                                               
considered this  type of legislation  and found it  important and                                                               
reasonable to consider as a criminal act.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  understood adding  hazing in terms  of how                                                               
it pertains to school districts,  but she expressed concern about                                                               
adding hazing to the criminal  code since the activity is already                                                               
addressed in the code.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS emphasized  that defining hazing in                                                               
the  criminal  code  is  important due  to  the  power  asymmetry                                                               
aspects.   Lower classmen  may submit to  the upper  classmen and                                                               
accept hazing as  a coercive assent for participation  in a group                                                               
activity.   Adding  hazing as  a  misdemeanor would  specifically                                                               
address  that  activity.    Granted,  the  criminal  activity  is                                                               
covered;  however,  the  blanket   charge  of  assault  could  be                                                               
confusing and students  might not understand they  have an avenue                                                               
to  seek  redress through  the  school  district or  the  courts,                                                               
especially given the coercion aspects.                                                                                          
MR.  MCLOUGHLIN directed  attention to  page 1,  lines 12-14,  to                                                               
subsection (c),  which specifically  addresses this,  which read,                                                               
"It is  not a  defense to  a prosecution for  a crime  under this                                                               
section that  the individual  against whom  the act  or situation                                                               
was  directed   consented  to  or   acquiesced  in  the   act  or                                                               
9:50:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON   directed  attention   to  page   1,                                                               
subsection (d), and  compared to it page 4 lines  9-10 of HB 189,                                                               
which  defines organization.   She  explained that  AS 14  adds a                                                               
connection  to schools  and  she was  unsure  why the  definition                                                               
should be  different in AS  11 than  it is in  AS 14.   She again                                                               
referred to  subsection (d), which  read, "organization"  means a                                                               
fraternity, sorority,  association, corporation,  order, society,                                                               
corps,  cooperative, club,  service group,  social group,  faith-                                                               
based group,  athletic team, or  similar group whose  members are                                                               
primarily students."                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   offered  his  belief   that  the                                                               
definition  in  Section 10,  relates  to  elementary, middle,  or                                                               
secondary schools  is because it  would apply to  school district                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  referred to page 2,  line 3, subsection                                                               
(e) of  Version O.   She asked for  the penalty provisions  for a                                                               
class A misdemeanor.                                                                                                            
MR. MCLOUGHLIN  answered that the  maximum penalty for a  class A                                                               
misdemeanor is up to one year in prison.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON referred to  page 3, line  16, proposed                                                               
Section 7, which read, " ...  ; failure to report shall result in                                                           
appropriate  disciplinary   action."     She  asked   what  would                                                         
constitute appropriate disciplinary action under this language.                                                                 
MR. MCLOUGHLIN answered that everything  after proposed Section 1                                                               
of HB 189  pertains to school district policy.   The disciplinary                                                               
action in proposed Section 7 would  be taken by either the school                                                               
district or the school.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked whether  schools would be required                                                               
to have  policies in  place or if  something happened  the school                                                               
would decide what to do.                                                                                                        
MR.  MCLOUGHLIN referred  to Section  2, which  read, as  follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     (a) Each[BY  JULY 1, 2007, EACH]  school district shall                                                                
     adopt a  policy that prohibits the  hazing, harassment,                                                                
     intimidation, or  bullying of any student.  Each school                                                                    
     district  shall  share  this  policy  with  parents  or                                                                    
     guardians, students, volunteers, and school employees.                                                                     
MR. MCLOUGHLIN  responded that each school  district should adopt                                                               
a  policy  to address  hazing  and  the appropriate  disciplinary                                                               
9:55:45 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFFREY  MITTMAN, Executive  Director,  American Civil  Liberties                                                               
Union of  Alaska (ACLU-Alaska), offered  his support for  HB 189.                                                               
He  said hazing  and bullying  are serious  concerns in  Alaska's                                                               
schools and  throughout the country.   This bill goes a  long way                                                               
towards addressing that  issue in a very real  and important way.                                                               
The  ACLU-Alaska strongly  supports proposed  Sections 2-10.   He                                                               
offered  to  continue  work  with the  sponsor  on  the  criminal                                                               
provisions.  The  ACLU has expressed some concern  about the bill                                                               
criminalizing student behavior, but  anticipates working with the                                                               
sponsor to address these issues.                                                                                                
9:56:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  assumed the  letter in  members' packets                                                               
referred to an earlier version of the bill.                                                                                     
MR. MITTMAN said that is correct.                                                                                               
9:57:14 AM                                                                                                                    
GARY  MATTHEWS,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  School  Activities                                                               
Association  (ASAA),  stated that  he  submitted  a letter  dated                                                               
April 2, 2013 in support of the  bill.  He said the ASAA does not                                                               
specifically have rules that prohibit  hazing but it is a concern                                                               
to  coaches,   schools,  families,  students,   and  communities.                                                               
Additionally, students have the right  to feel safe in school and                                                               
during   school  activities   without  threat   of  intimidation.                                                               
Granted,  many school  districts have  anti-bullying policies  in                                                               
place.   However,  it  makes  sense to  expand  those to  include                                                               
prohibitions  on  hazing.  He  was   unsure  how  many  districts                                                               
specifically  include  hazing  in  their current  policies.    He                                                               
acknowledged that hazing happens in  Alaska.  In fact, during the                                                               
past  few  years  there  have   been  notorious  cases  involving                                                               
athletes in  Alaska, some  of which have  been sexual  in nature.                                                               
Fortunately, serious injuries have been  avoided, but it does not                                                               
mean that Alaska  should lower its vigilance.   In conclusion, he                                                               
said the ASAA supports the bill, as amended.                                                                                    
9:58:53 AM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE  JOHNSON,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Council  of  School                                                               
Administrators  (ACSA), offered  his belief  that this  bill will                                                               
shine a  bright light  on hazing.   It  is appropriate  that this                                                               
happen.   Recent incidents have  been reported to  indicate youth                                                               
are subjected to hazing.  The ACSA  would like to be on record to                                                               
eliminate any hazing.  Further  the ACSA supports the proposed CS                                                               
for HB 189, [Version O.]                                                                                                        
10:00:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said it appears  there may be certain cases                                                               
of hazing that encompasses mental  distress versus physical harm.                                                               
She asked  whether First  Amendment rights  would be  breeched by                                                               
this law if "mean teasing" is part of the bill.                                                                                 
MR.  MITTMAN   responded  that  the  ACLU-Alaska   will  want  to                                                               
carefully analyze the  proposed CS to make a  determination.  The                                                               
ACLU has  historically taken the  viewpoint that it  is important                                                               
to  punish the  actions not  speech or  thoughts.   Therefore the                                                               
ACLU-Alaska has been working with  the bill sponsor to ensure the                                                               
bill  will  punish  behavior  and   actions  and  not  speech  or                                                               
thoughts.  He expressed confidence that this can be addressed.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  commented he  is working  with the                                                               
attorney general  on the ACLU's  concerns.  He said  the language                                                               
in Section  1 has been refined.   However, Section 10  has a more                                                               
expansive  definition  of  hazing,  but  it  is  not  defined  as                                                               
criminal activity.                                                                                                              
10:02:41 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON referred to  page 4, line 1, which read,                                                               
"to the  risk of  physical injury or  severe mental  or emotional                                                               
injury, ...  " which she  viewed as  subjective.  She  related in                                                               
her own family,  one of her five siblings found  some things that                                                               
happened  to them  were "emotional"  but  the remaining  siblings                                                               
view the  experiences differently.  Therefore,  she surmised that                                                               
every  student   will  experience  similar   events  differently.                                                               
However, while bullies  tend to focus in  on perceived weaknesses                                                               
and some  students can be  traumatized, others are  not affected.                                                               
She  cautioned that  it is  subjective  and can  be difficult  to                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS responded  that  the  point is  an                                                               
excellent  point.   First,  the  bill  leaves  it to  the  school                                                               
districts  on  harassment  and intimidation.    Secondly,  it  is                                                               
difficult to  define emotional and  mental injury.  He  relayed a                                                               
reported incident  from a Chicago  girls' soccer hazing  that was                                                               
inappropriate,  although the  hazing did  not result  in physical                                                               
injury.   Again, it's up  to the  school districts to  decide, he                                                               
CHAIR  GATTIS, after  first  determining no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 189.                                                                                     
10:06:08 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  commented there are enough  instances of                                                               
hazing in  Alaska perpetrated on  students in Alaska  to indicate                                                               
it's  important  to cover  as  many  definitions as  possible  to                                                               
provide clarity and support to the school districts.                                                                            
10:07:02 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR GATTIS thanked the sponsor for bringing the bill forward.                                                                 
She said she thinks the bill helps elevate the conversation and                                                                 
better identify that hazing exists.                                                                                             
[HB 189 was held over.]                                                                                                         
10:07:32 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:07 a.m.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB 197 v. A.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
02 HB 197 Sponsor Statement v. A.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
03 HB 197 Sectional Analysis v. A.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
04 HB 197 Supporting Document-ECS Early Literacy.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
05 HB 197 Supporting Document-FL vs AK.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
06 HB 197 Supporting Document-ECS.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
07 HB 197 Supporting Document-State at Risk.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
08 HB 197 Fiscal Note-EED-TLS-4-5-13.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 197
01 HB 189 Version N.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
02 HB 189 Sponsor Statement v. N.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
03 HB 189 Versions Explanation.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
04 HB 189 Sectional Analysis_3.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
05 HB 189 Fiscal Note-EED-K12-3-28-13.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
06 HB 189 Fiscal Note-DOC-OC-04-05-13.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
07 HB 189 Relevant Definitions.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
08 HB 189 Dr Lipkins Letter of Support.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
09 HB 189 Brian Crow Letter of Support.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
10 HB 189 Lori Klein Letter of Support.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189
11 HB 189 Norm Pollard Letter of Support.pdf HEDC 4/10/2013 9:00:00 AM
HB 189