Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/07/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 7, 2014                                                                                        
                           8:05 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. 278                                                                                                              
"An  Act  increasing the  base  student  allocation used  in  the                                                               
formula  for state  funding of  public  education; repealing  the                                                               
secondary    student   competency    examination   and    related                                                               
requirements;  relating  to  high  school  course  credit  earned                                                               
through assessment;  relating to  a college and  career readiness                                                               
assessment  for secondary  students; relating  to charter  school                                                               
application appeals and program  budgets; relating to residential                                                               
school applications;  increasing the stipend for  boarding school                                                               
students;  extending unemployment  contributions  for the  Alaska                                                               
technical and  vocational education program; relating  to earning                                                               
high  school  credit  for   completion  of  vocational  education                                                               
courses   offered  by   institutions   receiving  technical   and                                                               
vocational education  program funding; relating to  education tax                                                               
credits;  making  conforming  amendments; and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 220                                                                                                              
"An Act  repealing the  secondary student  competency examination                                                               
and related requirements; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1                                                                                                    
Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska                                                                 
relating to state aid for education.                                                                                            
     - MOVED HJR 1 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 245                                                                                                              
"An Act repealing the required local contribution to school                                                                     
funding; making conforming changes; and providing for an                                                                        
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 278                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/24/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/24/14       (H)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
02/03/14       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/03/14       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/14       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/07/14       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
BILL: HB 220                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM                                                                                  
SPONSOR(s): HIGGINS, MILLETT, GARA, GATTIS, T.WILSON, THOMPSON                                                                  
01/21/14       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/10/14                                                                               
01/21/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/21/14       (H)       EDC                                                                                                    
02/05/14       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/05/14       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/05/14       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/07/14       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
BILL: HJR  1                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): KELLER                                                                                                              
01/16/13       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/13                                                                                
01/16/13       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/16/13       (H)       EDC, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
02/22/13       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/22/13       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/22/13       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/01/13       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/01/13       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/01/13       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/07/14       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MIKE HANLEY, Commissioner                                                                                                       
Department of Education and Early Development (EED)                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified with official support  for HB 278                                                             
sections  specific  to  repealing   the  High  School  Graduation                                                               
Qualifying Exam (HSGQE); and responded to questions.                                                                            
LES MORSE, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development (EED)                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded to questions,  during the hearing                                                             
on HB 278.                                                                                                                      
THOMAS STUDLER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Pete Higgins                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained  the proposed Committee Substitute                                                             
(CS)  for HB  220,  on behalf  of  Representative Higgins,  Prime                                                               
MIKE COONS                                                                                                                      
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified with  opposition to  HB 220  and                                                             
specifically Sec. 2 of HB 278.                                                                                                  
DAVID NEES                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified with  opposition to  HB 220  and                                                             
specifically Sec. 2 of HB 278.                                                                                                  
MARY NANUWAK                                                                                                                    
Chevak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided  comments  on  the importance  of                                                             
education, during the hearing on HB 220                                                                                         
POSIE BOGGS                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified with  concern for  state reading                                                             
levels, during the hearing on HB 220.                                                                                           
JIM POUND, Staff                                                                                                                
Representative Wes Keller                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HJR 1, on behalf of                                                                            
Representative Keller, Prime Sponsor.                                                                                           
TOM COBAUGH                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
BOB GRIFFIN                                                                                                                     
Eagle River                                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
BETHANY MARCUM                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
MEGAN LOCKARD                                                                                                                   
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
MICHAEL CHAMBERS, Chair                                                                                                         
Alaskan Libertarian Party                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with official support for HJR 1.                                                               
ELIZABETH MANNING                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
MIKE PRAX                                                                                                                       
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
MARITZA BLADA                                                                                                                   
Sterling, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
MARY TOUTONGHI                                                                                                                  
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
BILL LIGHT                                                                                                                      
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
MIKE COONS                                                                                                                      
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
KRISTINA JOHANNES                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
MARTHA FREEMAN                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
LISA PAESANI                                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
TERRIE GOTTSTEIN                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
HOPE FINKELSTEIN                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition for HJR 1.                                                                     
LADAWN DRUCE, Representative                                                                                                    
National Education Association of Alaska (NEAA)                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with official opposition to                                                                    
HJR 1.                                                                                                                          
STEPHEN O'BRIEN                                                                                                                 
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
JOE BOYLE, President                                                                                                            
Matanuska-Susitna Education Association                                                                                         
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
ALISON ARIANS                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
ANDY HOLLEMAN, President                                                                                                        
Anchorage Education Association (AEA)                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with official opposition to                                                                    
HJR 1.                                                                                                                          
MEGAN RICHOTTE                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
DEENA MITCHELL                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
DAVID NEES                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
DANNA GRAMMER, Business Owner                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
DON GRAY                                                                                                                        
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
MARY GRAHAM                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
ANN FULLER                                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
MARY HAKALA                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with opposition to HJR 1.                                                                      
ANDREA STORY, Member                                                                                                            
Juneau School Board                                                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified with official opposition to                                                                    
HJR 1.                                                                                                                          
SUSAN SIMMONS                                                                                                                   
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 1.                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:05:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  GATTIS called the House  Education Standing Committee                                                             
meeting to  order at 8:05  a.m.  Representatives  Gattis, Seaton,                                                               
Drummond, Saddler,  Reinbold, LeDoux,  and Reinbold  were present                                                               
at the call to order.                                                                                                           
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
[Testimony for both HB 278  and HB 220 were taken simultaneously,                                                               
during the hearing on HB 220; the second agenda item.]                                                                          
8:06:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  278,  "An   Act  increasing  the  base  student                                                               
allocation  used  in the  formula  for  state funding  of  public                                                               
education;   repealing    the   secondary    student   competency                                                               
examination  and related  requirements; relating  to high  school                                                               
course credit  earned through assessment;  relating to  a college                                                               
and career readiness assessment  for secondary students; relating                                                               
to  charter  school  application  appeals  and  program  budgets;                                                               
relating  to  residential  school  applications;  increasing  the                                                               
stipend  for  boarding  school students;  extending  unemployment                                                               
contributions for  the Alaska technical and  vocational education                                                               
program; relating  to earning high  school credit  for completion                                                               
of   vocational  education   courses   offered  by   institutions                                                               
receiving  technical and  vocational  education program  funding;                                                               
relating to education tax  credits; making conforming amendments;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
CHAIR  GATTIS   established  that  today's  hearing   would  deal                                                               
exclusively with the  bill sections addressing the  repeal of the                                                               
High School  Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE);  in concert with                                                               
HB 220 to be heard sequentially.                                                                                                
8:06:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development  (EED), described  the original  intent of  the exam,                                                               
and testified with  official support for the repeal  of the HSGQE                                                               
requirement,   as  addressed   through  the   pertinent  sections                                                               
contained in HB 278.                                                                                                            
8:08:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether the  HSGQE has been  used to                                                               
track  accountability  regarding  school performance  or  student                                                               
attainment of proficiency standards.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER HANLEY clarified that a  high stakes assessment is a                                                               
tool  for   the  student  to   prove  competency;   however,  all                                                               
assessment are a  reflection of school performance,  as well, due                                                               
to the integral nature of the educational system.                                                                               
8:09:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX noted that  the standards may have changed,                                                               
since  the  inception of  the  HSGQE,  as a  minimal  proficiency                                                               
indicator,  but  stressed  the  need  for  continued  testing  to                                                               
measure the knowledge a student  has garnered during their school                                                               
career.   She suggested the  elimination of all school  exams, if                                                               
the concern is that some students may fail.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the  HSGQE is  unique in  that it  is a                                                               
high stakes exam;  failure to pass this exam  precludes a student                                                               
from  receiving  a  diploma.     Other  assessment  tests  remain                                                               
available  to indicate  student achievement  levels, such  as the                                                               
Standards Based Assessments (SBAs),  administered in grades three                                                               
through ten.   He said employers  will still be able  to review a                                                               
student's transcript scores but  this legislation will remove the                                                               
practice of having  a test requirement connected  directly to the                                                               
receipt of a high school diploma.                                                                                               
8:11:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked how  necessary it  is for  the exit                                                               
exam  to be  aligned with  education standards.   He  conjectured                                                               
that there  is naturally  some overlap  in reading,  writing, and                                                               
other studies.                                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said, "We assess  what we teach."   It would                                                               
be  erroneous  to assess  something  that  has not  been  taught;                                                               
however,  currently the  HSGQE is  geared to  assess what  is now                                                               
taught in middle  school rather than the  high school curriculum;                                                               
in that respect  it is important for the test  to be aligned with                                                               
what is being taught.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  questioned  whether   it  stands  as  an                                                               
indictment  of the  student or  the test  standards, if  there is                                                               
failure to pass.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY established  that concern  is raised  if, by                                                               
the  twelfth  grade,  a  student  is unable  to  pass  the  HSGQE                                                               
considering it  is targeted to  test skills that are  expected to                                                               
be learned  in the  eighth, ninth,  and tenth  grade levels.   He                                                               
added that student  failure can result in scrutiny  of a school's                                                               
practices, along with other factors.                                                                                            
8:13:14 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  moved onto the  other two components  of the                                                               
Alaska  Education  Opportunity  Act pertinent  to  repealing  the                                                               
HSGQE.  A critical aspect  is the transitional language, intended                                                               
to address students  who have graduated without  passing the exam                                                               
and instead of  a diploma received a  Certificate of Achievement;                                                               
having achieved  all other graduation  requirements.   Under this                                                               
component, those specific students may  retest and earn a diploma                                                               
within a three  year window; through 2017.   The second component                                                               
is  the inclusion  of assessments  that  best meet  the needs  of                                                               
students and  will provide  them with  an opportunity  to qualify                                                               
for the  Alaska Performance  Scholarship.   It also  includes the                                                               
necessary  information for  other potential  career steps  beyond                                                               
high school.  The assessments would  be taken during the last two                                                               
years of  school, eleventh or  twelfth grade, and  allows options                                                               
for  taking  the  Scholastic  Achievement  Test  (SAT),  American                                                               
College Testing (ACT), or WorkKeys.   He noted that employers are                                                               
using the  WorkKeys assessment on  a greater scale,  and colleges                                                               
and universities continue to refer to  the SAT and ACT scores for                                                               
entrance  criteria.   He said  this section  intentionally shifts                                                               
the  requirement from  the need  to pass  a high  stakes exam  to                                                               
taking  a readiness/competency  assessment  that will  act as  an                                                               
informative tool for students,  parents, colleges, and employers.                                                               
It's  a shift  of focus  from state  accountability to  providing                                                               
useful information to the student.                                                                                              
8:16:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  said it appears that  administering a high                                                               
stakes  examination to  a high  school student  is inappropriate,                                                               
and asked if that impression is correct.                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said high stakes  exams are  not necessarily                                                               
inappropriate,  and  eight  other  states  have  implemented  the                                                               
practice.  However, by tying the  test to earning a diploma it is                                                               
imperative  that   it  be   done  intentionally,   correctly  and                                                               
administered with a sense of fairness  for the students.  He said                                                               
the HSGQE  is not providing  what the department desires,  and is                                                               
no longer warranted.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  whether the  test could  be revised                                                               
for applicability  to what is  being taught; what would  be wrong                                                               
with making that adjustment.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  stated  his   belief  that,  with  the  new                                                               
standards  and new  assessments, the  educational system  has the                                                               
ability  to measure  proficiency, engage  and meet  the needs  of                                                               
students, without a high stakes exam.                                                                                           
8:17:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  noted  that  HB 278  proposes  to  repeal                                                               
existing statute  that requires the WorkKeys  assessment be taken                                                               
by  every student  in  the  eleventh grade,  with  the option  to                                                               
retake  in the  twelfth for  an improved  score, and  the results                                                               
become part  of the  student's transcript.   Thus,  employers can                                                               
evaluate the skill  status of a potential hire via  access to the                                                               
transcripts.   He  pointed out  that  this measure  was a  policy                                                               
established through  this committee, and received  support of the                                                               
full  legislature, and  opined that  eliminating this  assessment                                                               
would  prove  problematic.    Through  a  series  of  theoretical                                                               
situations,  he illustrated  how a  student without  the WorkKeys                                                               
score on  their transcript  might be disadvantaged,  to wit:   if                                                               
college is  not pursued or  completed and the young  person seeks                                                               
work,  someone with  an assessment  score could  be considered  a                                                               
more desirable applicant for hire  than someone whose transcripts                                                               
did  not contain  the WorkKeys  ranking information.  Further, he                                                               
pointed out that SAT and ACT  scores are not available or used in                                                               
the  same   manner  by  potential   employers  as   the  WorkKeys                                                               
assessment information.  He requested:                                                                                          
     I  want your  frank  opinion on  whether exempting  all                                                                    
     kids that are going to  college from taking, and having                                                                    
     WorkKeys  on their  transcripts,  actually degrades  in                                                                    
     the minds  of high  school students,  the value  of the                                                                    
     WorkKeys test and  also what employers are  going to do                                                                    
     with kids  that think  they're going  to go  to college                                                                    
     and then don't complete [their degree].                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  the WorkKeys  assessment would  not be                                                               
eliminated,  but it  would no  longer be  a requirement  of every                                                               
student.   The transmittal and content  of transcript information                                                               
is not expected  to change under the proposed section  of HB 278,                                                               
and he offered to review the  language for further assurance.  He                                                               
said the intent is to provide  students access to tools that will                                                               
assist them  in pursuits beyond  high school.  Some  students may                                                               
not take  the WorkKeys assessment  seriously, he opined,  if they                                                               
don't feel  it is applicable  to the direction they  have chosen,                                                               
particularly a definite postsecondary  path; however, any student                                                               
would still have the option to take the WorkKeys assessment.                                                                    
8:23:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled  that the  original act  required                                                               
the WorkKeys  score to be included  on the transcript and  HB 278                                                               
does not  delete the language  from statute.  Thus,  if employers                                                               
across  the  state,  who  have  begun to  rely  on  the  WorkKeys                                                               
information  as  a  hiring  tool,   notice  it  not  being  on  a                                                               
transcript, it would  cause question and put a  student without a                                                               
score at a distinct disadvantage.   He maintained concern for not                                                               
having  all   eleventh  grade  students  complete   the  WorkKeys                                                               
assessment  and opined  that junior  year students  are typically                                                               
incentivized to apply themselves  to their remaining semesters of                                                               
high school  study in  order to  achieve higher,  final, WorkKeys                                                               
scores  that  become  a  permanent  part  of  their  high  school                                                               
transcripts.  Removal  of the requirement will cause  the loss of                                                               
this incentivizing effort for continued  rigorous study.  Current                                                               
law  requires   a  WorkKeys   score  as   part  of   a  student's                                                               
transcripts,  and  HB 278  does  not  indicate  that SAT  or  ACT                                                               
information  will be  required.   He  acknowledged  that a  well-                                                               
crafted  resume could  satisfy an  employer, but  the information                                                               
would   not  be   verifiable  without   this  information   on  a                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY pointed out  that the WorkKeys assessment can                                                               
be taken at  any time by anyone through the  state work placement                                                               
centers.  He  pointed out that HB 278 proposes  to have the state                                                               
fund the cost  for the administration of two  assessment exams of                                                               
the student's choice.  Thus,  a student might choose the WorkKeys                                                               
one  year and  the SAT,  or ACT,  for another  year, scores  that                                                               
could prove  personally useful, without  additional expense.   He                                                               
said this  provides an opportunity  to receive scores  to support                                                               
either choice  of technical/workforce or college  pursuit, rather                                                               
than an elimination of an option.                                                                                               
8:25:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  acknowledged that the HSGQE  is no longer                                                               
considered a good  assessment tool and should be  eliminated.  He                                                               
opined that clarity  of the terminology is  important, and stated                                                               
his  understanding:   a test  indicates a  pass or  failure of  a                                                               
minimum score,  with appropriate  consequences attached,  in this                                                               
case  a diploma  versus  a Certificate  of  Attendance; the  term                                                               
assessment  indicatives  a  student's  standing  on  a  continuum                                                               
ranging  from  absolute  perfection   to  utter  failure;  and  a                                                               
standard  provides  the  benchmark  against which  a  student  is                                                               
tested.  He asked if  there are standards and minimum performance                                                               
levels  attached  to the  achievement  of  a diploma  that  would                                                               
provide useful,  measurable information;  beyond warming  a chair                                                               
for four years.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  named many  of  the  requirements that  are                                                               
necessary  to  graduate  and receive  a  diploma,  which  include                                                               
attendance,  designated courses  of  study  with specific  credit                                                               
requirements,  achievement of  total credits,  and completion  of                                                               
the state SBA  examinations.  He reviewed how HB  278 removes the                                                               
high  stakes  test score  requirement  for  receiving a  diploma,                                                               
while  leaving  in  place  specific  requirements  and  formative                                                               
assessments  to  track  student   proficiency.  He  assured  that                                                               
testing  still occurs  in  order to  receive  credit in  required                                                               
8:28:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  noted  the previous  mention  that  the                                                               
WorkKeys assessment can be taken by  a job seeker at any time, at                                                               
a local  job center, and asked  about the cost to  the individual                                                               
to have it administered.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER HANLEY deferred.                                                                                                   
8:29:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX agree with  the previous members statements                                                               
regarding the  need for testing  as a means to  establish student                                                               
standing,  and added  that  it acts  as a  guard  to the  general                                                               
public; the bar exam for example.                                                                                               
8:30:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled  that  at the  time WorkKeys  was                                                               
made a  requirement there was consideration  given to eliminating                                                               
the  HSGQE, with  the expectation  for removing  the high  stakes                                                               
exam while providing  employers with a useable  reference for the                                                               
skill  sets that  an applicant  would have  achieved.   He opined                                                               
that  HB 278  represents  a  retreat from  the  principle of  the                                                               
statute  that   was  established  to  provide   this  meaningful,                                                               
universal skillset indicator, as a reference for employers.                                                                     
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  responded that, if  it is the intent  of the                                                               
legislature to  maintain the WorkKeys assessment  requirement and                                                               
also have the state pay for  an SAT/ACT exam, the goal to provide                                                               
students  an  opportunity  to  test for  vocational  as  well  as                                                               
college careers, would still be intact.                                                                                         
8:34:30 AM                                                                                                                    
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development  (EED), clarified  that the State  School Board                                                               
oversaw  the WorkKeys  assessment  requirement  written into  the                                                               
department regulations, 4  AAC 06.717, but it does  not appear in                                                               
state statute.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  maintained that the mission  was to ensure                                                               
that a student  would leave high school with  something more than                                                               
a  disparate  graduation diploma.    As  proposed, HB  278  would                                                               
eliminate  the  HSGQE, and  WorkKeys  would  remain as  the  only                                                               
assessment information  on the  transcript.   He opined  that two                                                               
actions occur:  uniformity of  knowledge regarding what a diploma                                                               
represents  is lost;  and a  two tiered  system is  delineated in                                                               
which anyone planning to attend  college would not be required to                                                               
take   the  WorkKeys   assessment,   with  resulting   unintended                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the bill  allows the student  to choose                                                               
the appropriate  tool for  their future use,  and does  not alter                                                               
teaching  standards,  or  student preparation,  expectations  and                                                               
8:37:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   noted  the  $500,000  savings   by  not                                                               
administering the HSGQE,  and inquired about the  cost to proctor                                                               
the SAT,  ACT, or WorkKeys per  time, per student; what  will the                                                               
cost difference  be for eliminating  the HSGQE  and administering                                                               
one other three exams.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  the department  anticipates a  cost of                                                               
$52.50 per  person for the  SAT, and  given the cohort  of 10,000                                                               
students  across  the state,  the  cost  in  one year  should  be                                                               
approximately  $525,000.    The   WorkKeys  cost  is  about  $2.7                                                               
million.   A contractual obligation  also exists with  the vendor                                                               
who provides the  HSGQE assessment and, thus, the  cost cannot be                                                               
entirely  removed  from  the  fiscal  note.    Additionally,  the                                                               
department  is negotiating  with  the contractor  to continue  to                                                               
provide  the HSGQE,  on  a  smaller scale,  over  the next  three                                                               
years.   He  finished,  explaining the  details  of the  negative                                                               
$900,000 fiscal note.  To a  follow-up he estimated that it could                                                               
cost $1.3  million, per year,  to exit the contract  and continue                                                               
administration  to  a  handful  of students  over  a  three  year                                                               
period.  He  further clarified that the HSGQE  is administered at                                                               
a cost of  roughly $2.7 million, and the WorkKeys  carries a cost                                                               
of $411,000 to the mentioned cohort.                                                                                            
8:41:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND agreed with  needing to repeal the HSGQE,                                                               
and  cautioned that  the move  away from  administering too  many                                                               
exams may result in requiring too few.                                                                                          
8:43:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   asked  how   many  students   receive  a                                                               
certificate of attendance  versus a diploma, each year.   He said                                                               
spending  money   to  maintain   a  routine  for   proctoring  an                                                               
examination, when  a student has  not fulfilled  other graduation                                                               
requirements would be difficult to justify.                                                                                     
MR. MORSE  responded that numbers range  from a high of  410 to a                                                               
low of  265, with a  total of 2,963  overall who have  received a                                                               
certificate of achievement since the exam  has been in place.  To                                                               
a follow-up question, he clarified  that the statistics represent                                                               
the  number   of  individuals  who  received   a  certificate  of                                                               
achievement, since 2004.   The number who have  achieved the goal                                                               
of receiving  a diploma is  about 160  in recent years,  and some                                                               
will be  proctored multiple times in  order to pass all  parts of                                                               
the test.  He offered to provide additional, specific data.                                                                     
8:47:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked for an explanation of the GED.                                                                      
MR.  MORSE said  it is  a  general education  diploma, which  was                                                               
introduced following World  War II to allow veterans  who had not                                                               
completed high  school a  means to  attain a  diploma equivalency                                                               
and enter the  workforce on an equal footing with  peers who were                                                               
graduates.  It  has changed over time and is  administered by the                                                               
Department of Labor and Work Force Development.                                                                                 
CHAIR GATTIS announced HB 278 was held over.                                                                                    
            HB 220-REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM                                                                        
8:47:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  220,  "An Act  repealing  the secondary  student                                                               
competency  examination and  related requirements;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
CHAIR  GATTIS  added that  testimony  for  both  HB 220  and  the                                                               
preceding bill, HB  278, would be taken jointly; as  the topic in                                                               
both  pertains  to the  High  School  Graduation Qualifying  Exam                                                               
8:48:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD moved  to adopt  the proposed  Committee                                                               
Substitute  (CS)  for  HB   220,  labeled  28-LS0947\U,  Mischel,                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected to hear the proposed changes.                                                                    
8:49:02 AM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS STUDLER, Staff, Representative  Pete Higgins, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, pointed  out that  the CS makes  two changes  to the                                                               
original  bill.   First,  a section  has been  added  to allow  a                                                               
sunset period for  completing the test, until  2017; secondly the                                                               
effective date has been changed from 7/1/2014, to 9/1/2014.                                                                     
8:49:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS  noted  that this  is  the  transitional  language,                                                               
alluded  to by  the  EED Commissioner,  Mike  Hanley, during  the                                                               
previous bill discussion on HB 278.                                                                                             
8:49:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON removed  his objection.   Without  further                                                               
objection, Version U was before the committee.                                                                                  
8:50:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. STUDLER  said that HB  278 includes  comprehensive discussion                                                               
of school examinations, beyond the  scope of HB 220; however, two                                                               
sections are identical.                                                                                                         
8:51:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS recapped that HB 220  is titled to address the HSGQE                                                               
only, whereas HB  278 includes considerations of  other tests and                                                               
assessments,  including the  Scholastic  Achievement Test  (SAT),                                                               
American College Testing (ACT), or WorkKeys.                                                                                    
8:51:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed plans  to offer an  amendment to                                                               
remove  Sec. 6  of HB  278, effectively  removing the  three year                                                               
transitional language,  and cited that approximately  80 students                                                               
per year  might benefit  by the  legislation, at  a cost  of $1.3                                                               
million.  Alternatives to accomplish  the same end exist, such as                                                               
the availability  of the  general educational  development (GED),                                                               
he   said,  and   underscored   the  need   to  consider   fiscal                                                               
8:53:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS asserted that the test  is a state mandate for every                                                               
graduate.    She  acknowledged  the high  cost  of  offering  the                                                               
extended exam period  and pointed out that it  is also expensive,                                                               
monetarily and socially,  for anyone who doesn't  hold a diploma.                                                               
She said it is a challenge to equate the balance.                                                                               
8:53:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND recalled  the  discussion regarding  the                                                               
contract  that  exists  with  the   provider  of  the  test,  and                                                               
suggested  a   more  timely  elimination  may   not  be  possible                                                               
depending on the terms of agreement.                                                                                            
8:53:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  pointed  out  that  current  statute  may                                                               
already  include proviso  for re-testing,  and  the effects  will                                                               
need  to  be considered.    Additionally,  she commented  that  a                                                               
retroactive  effective  date  may  solve the  issue.    Agreement                                                               
appears to  exist that at  some point  the HSGQE ceased  to serve                                                               
its  intended  purpose,  she  observed,  and  suggested  awarding                                                               
everyone a diploma that from that established point forward.                                                                    
8:54:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON agreed that either  a transition period                                                               
or a  retroactive date  could be necessary  or a  legal challenge                                                               
may arise.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON  stated   his  understanding   that  only                                                               
students from  the current  school year would  be a  concern, and                                                               
they  would have  notice to  accomplish any  re-testing within  a                                                               
plausible time frame; 9/1/14.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   asked  why   not  eliminate   the  HSGQE                                                               
immediately,  rather than  go through  the  complete exercise  in                                                               
May, 2014.                                                                                                                      
MR. STUDLER said, "Good point."                                                                                                 
8:57:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE COONS  stated opposition  to HB  220 and Sec.  2 of  HB 278,                                                               
paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,  which read  as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     I am in favor of the  vast majority of HB 278, however,                                                                    
     I  do   object  to  Section   2.    I  oppose   HB  220                                                                    
     transitional aspects.                                                                                                      
     I propose changing Section 2 to read:                                                                                      
     Lines 12-18 change  to read:  Sec.  14.03.075.  College                                                                    
     and career assessments.                                                                                                    
     (a)   A  student  shall be  issued  a secondary  school                                                                    
     diploma  upon  completing  all  required  course  study                                                                    
     throughout High School with a 2.0 GPA or higher.                                                                           
     (b)   A student who  fails to qualify for  the issuance                                                                    
     of a diploma under                                                                                                         
     (a) of  this section will  be held back so  the student                                                                    
     can  retake the  needed  courses to  meet  the 2.0  GPA                                                                    
     requirement,  upon  successful completion  the  diploma                                                                    
     will be issued.                                                                                                            
     I  have spoken  to this  in the  exit exam  bills, both                                                                    
     House and  Senate opposing  transition and  my proposal                                                                    
     here mirrors  the proposal  for changing  transition in                                                                    
     SB 111.                                                                                                                    
     To  Rep LeDoux  and Seaton.   Administration  last week                                                                    
     testified  that last  year 700  kids did  not pass  the                                                                    
     exit exam.  If I'm  not mistaken, this was not failures                                                                    
     by handicapped.   These kids  are in the  workforce and                                                                    
     I'm sure  not having a  sheep skin is giving  them some                                                                    
     problems,  but if  they  are smart  they  will get  the                                                                    
     transcripts  of High  School  and  give to  employer's.                                                                    
     Lastly,  my  last  employer   had  nothing  asking  for                                                                    
     WorkKeys test  results, just if graduated  High School.                                                                    
     Remember,   these   young   adults  are   entry   level                                                                    
     employee's and  not seeking  jobs that  are in  need of                                                                    
     high level of knowledge,  education and experience.  If                                                                    
     I take  a WorkKeys, at  age 61  along with 42  years of                                                                    
     work  experience  that will  have  a  bigger impact  on                                                                    
     employment  over that  of a  18 year  old with  no work                                                                    
     experience and a foundation of education.                                                                                  
9:00:11 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID NEES stated opposition to HB 220  and Sec. 2 of HB 278.  He                                                               
said a high school diploma is  a document that is often requested                                                               
when a  person applies for work  or enlists in the  military.  He                                                               
recalled that  the initial installation  of the test  occurred in                                                               
1998, but  with only 50 percent  of the high school  seniors able                                                               
to successfully  pass, it  was re-normed in  2002 to  the current                                                               
standard.    Reading  skills  have  gone  from  29  percent  non-                                                               
proficient to  16 percent, indicating  a good level  of progress.                                                               
However, writing  and math  continue to  be areas  where students                                                               
struggle to grasp the concepts,  as indicated by low test scores.                                                               
The  seven years  period, 2005-2012,  has  seen graduation  rates                                                               
increase by eight  percent, from 61-69, which does  not appear to                                                               
directly co-relate  to the HSGQE.   The State Board  of Education                                                               
is charged with improving academic  achievement for all students;                                                               
however;  he opined,  eliminating this  exam does  not accomplish                                                               
that goal,  rather it dilutes  the test.  He  rhetorically asked,                                                               
"Do you  really want to go  to a doctor  or a lawyer who  has not                                                               
passed their  exam?"  He  maintained that  the HSGQE is  the exam                                                               
that answers  the question, "Do  you know what  it takes to  be a                                                               
high  school  [graduate]?"   Studies,  he  noted,  indicate  that                                                               
student  assessment scores  from  fifth  grade, directly  reflect                                                               
high  school graduation  assessment scores.   Reviewing  the 2013                                                               
statistics for  the total Alaska  graduates taking the  HSGQE, he                                                               
reported that for  the last 15 years, an average  of 200 students                                                               
do not pass this test.  The  majority of the students do pass and                                                               
employers and  military recruiters understand  these percentages.                                                               
However,  the  University  of Alaska  system  indicates  that  30                                                               
percent  of continuing  education  students require  remediation;                                                               
lacking skills  in math  and writing, the  very areas  showing no                                                               
improvement across the state for the  last 15 years.  This is the                                                               
only legislation  setting an educational floor  as required under                                                               
the  Moore, et  al. v.  State of  Alaska, 3AN-04-9756  CI, (2010)                                                             
decision, unless the   Legislature sets an  education floor other                                                               
than the HSGQE.                                                                                                                 
9:04:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY NANUWAK expressed support for  education in general and said                                                               
the combined federal, state, and local efforts are important.                                                                   
9:07:06 AM                                                                                                                    
POSIE BOGGS questioned the state  reading assessment standards in                                                               
comparison  to the  national standards,  which appear  to require                                                               
greater  proficiency.   She expressed  concern for  state reading                                                               
levels and suggested that an  investigation of the discrepancy in                                                               
the test scores might be in order.                                                                                              
9:08:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS  closed public testimony  on HB 220,  and stipulated                                                               
that the public testimony would remain open on HB 278.                                                                          
9:09:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved  Conceptual Amendment 1 to  Sec. 6 as                                                               
     Page 4, lines 23-29:                                                                                                       
     Delete all language.                                                                                                       
CHAIR GATTIS objected for discussion.                                                                                           
9:09:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  explained that the students  have adequate                                                               
time to retake  the test, additionally, the  provider contract is                                                               
ending.  He  said extending the contract for  an additional three                                                               
years is  an expensive  undertaking and  there is  an alternative                                                               
pathway for  students to receive  an equivalency diploma  via the                                                               
GED exam.                                                                                                                       
9:10:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  for  clarity  from the  department                                                               
regarding contractual obligations.                                                                                              
The committee took an at-ease at 9:11 a.m.                                                                                      
9:11:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON withdrew Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                          
9:12:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced HB 220 was held over.                                                                                    
               HJR 1-CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                           
9:12:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTIS announced that  the final order of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 1, Proposing  amendments to                                                               
the Constitution  of the  State of Alaska  relating to  state aid                                                               
for education.                                                                                                                  
9:13:31 AM                                                                                                                    
JIM  POUND,  Staff,  Representative   Wes  Keller,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  recapped the  previous  hearings  and reviewed  the                                                               
points of HJR 1, as it was held over during the interim.                                                                        
9:15:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked about fiscal impacts.                                                                             
MR. POUND answered that the fiscal impact is zero.                                                                              
9:15:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS opened public testimony.                                                                                           
9:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM COBAUGH  stated support for HJR  1 and said this  would level                                                               
the  playing field  and invite  public debate.   He  suggested it                                                               
would correct  the current economic disparity  that exists, where                                                               
only  parents  of  means  can gain  open  access  to  educational                                                               
opportunities beyond  public schools.   Further,  the possibility                                                               
could result in  a competitive school system, and  he opined that                                                               
competition, in our society, creates a healthy environment.                                                                     
9:17:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked witnesses to  include a statement                                                               
in their testimony regarding parental  status and the educational                                                               
situation they have chosen for their children.                                                                                  
9:18:13 AM                                                                                                                    
BOB  GRIFFIN stated  support  for  HJR 1  and  said  it would  be                                                               
important for residents  to be allowed to vote  on this important                                                               
issue.   He opined that  school choice improves  student outcomes                                                               
and  reduces costs;  as proven  through  peer reviewed  empirical                                                               
data gathered from 23 other states.                                                                                             
9:20:08 AM                                                                                                                    
BETHANY MARCUM  stated support  for HJR  1 and  said it  would be                                                               
important for residents to be allowed  to vote on this issue, and                                                               
express their wishes.                                                                                                           
9:20:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN   LOCKARD  stated   opposition  to   HJR  1   opining  that                                                               
educational choice already exists.   As a parent of six children,                                                               
she said  she can choose  home school, charter school,  or public                                                               
school.  She said the cost  of the private school she looked into                                                               
would not be  covered by the proposed voucher  amounts.  Further,                                                               
those who  choose private school  can already afford it  and this                                                               
bill  would not  provide enough  in tuition  to allow  low income                                                               
families to enroll their children.                                                                                              
9:23:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  CHAMBERS, Chair,  Alaskan  Libertarian Party,  testified                                                               
with  official  support for  HJR  1,  on  behalf of  the  Alaskan                                                               
Libertarian Party, paraphrasing from  a prepared statement, which                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     I have one  child who attended and  graduated from West                                                                    
     High and is currently attending  UAA on a full academic                                                                    
     scholarship.   I was a  public school teacher  in Delta                                                                    
     Junction and  currently I  am the  Chair of  the Alaska                                                                    
     Libertarian  Party.    In  this   capacity,  I  am  the                                                                    
     official   voice  of   approximately  9000   registered                                                                    
     libertarians.  The  vast majority of us  are in support                                                                    
     of  HJR1   because  it   removes  the   prohibition  of                                                                    
     legislation  to actively  engage in  future educational                                                                    
     choices of Alaskan children.   I have heard many "scare                                                                    
     tactics" from  citizens opposed to  this constitutional                                                                    
     amendment.  One  issue they are concerned  about is the                                                                    
     "loss   of   accountability"   in   other   educational                                                                    
     settings, hut as you know,  the Department of Education                                                                    
     is currently  engaged in vacating the  high school exit                                                                    
     exam, which is in fact,  a measure of accountability in                                                                    
     the  current educational  monopoly.   Additionally, you                                                                    
     know  support  of HJR  1  merely  establishes only  two                                                                    
     issues going forward.                                                                                                      
     1. It allows all registered  voters of Alaska to cast a                                                                    
     vote.   This  issue   reaches   into  virtually   every                                                                    
     household  in  Alaska  and should  be  settled  by  the                                                                    
     citizens themselves and not the legislature.                                                                               
     2.  If approved  by  the citizens,  this passage  would                                                                    
     allow  our elected  representatives the  opportunity to                                                                    
     consider  and  legislate  school choice  options  in  a                                                                    
     representative  environment  instead   of  the  current                                                                    
     environment of "special interests."   Thank you for the                                                                    
     opportunity to testify.                                                                                                    
9:25:01 AM                                                                                                                    
ELIZABETH MANNING stated  opposition for HJR 1 and  said it would                                                               
siphon  needed  funds  away from  an  excellent  existing  public                                                               
school system. Choice  already exists, she opined.   She reported                                                               
that her children currently attend Government Hill Elementary.                                                                  
9:26:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  PRAX  stated support  for  HJR  1  to maximize  choice  for                                                               
everyone, as  lack of choice  causes conflict.  He  reported that                                                               
his  two children  home schooled  and also  attended public  high                                                               
school.  He urged passage of the bill to allow a statewide vote.                                                                
9:28:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MARITZA BLADA stated support for  HJR 1, stressing the importance                                                               
to allow residents an opportunity to vote on the issue.                                                                         
9:28:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY TOUTONGHI stated opposition to HJR 1, paraphrased from a                                                                   
prepared document, which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                  
     I observed the invited  testimony of the Senate Finance                                                                    
     Committee on Monday, February 3,  [2014], would like to                                                                    
     share  some observations  and  concerns regarding  that                                                                    
     meeting  and the  Senate Joint  Resolution 9  which was                                                                    
     under discussion.                                                                                                          
     My  first  concern was  that  no  one with  alternative                                                                    
     points of view  was invited.  I sincerely  hope that as                                                                    
     you acquire  information you explore both  sides of the                                                                    
     issues to be  sure you are making  an informed decision                                                                    
     rather than a preformed decision.                                                                                          
     Another  concern  was  that prior  to  spending  public                                                                    
     monies you have a workable  end goal and a protocol for                                                                    
     exit effectiveness.   If you  are offering money  to an                                                                    
     entity to  educate children, how are  you breaking down                                                                    
     your goals and measuring effectiveness?                                                                                    
     It is  difficult to consider  what is  expected without                                                                    
     common  standards  that   involve  thoughtful  planning                                                                    
     backed up with appropriate data.   It is not clear what                                                                    
     Senator [Dunleavy]  meant when he  [said] (paraphrased)                                                                    
     everyone should  have their own standards  in utilizing                                                                    
     the public monies  for education.  We  use goal setting                                                                    
     and  evaluation processes  with every  other aspect  of                                                                    
     our    planning    for   state    activities,    roads,                                                                    
     construction, etc.  Why should  State standards for the                                                                    
     education  of our  children not  be planned  with goals                                                                    
     and  exit criteria  for all  those  who utilize  public                                                                    
     allotments,  (i.e.  vouchers)   that  affect  our  most                                                                    
     precious assets, our children.                                                                                             
     Following this thought it has  been my observation that                                                                    
     the  plan to  draw  public  allotments (vouchers)  been                                                                    
     carefully  developed  and   choreographed  with  backup                                                                    
     plans   of  various   types.     (Changing  the   State                                                                    
     Constitution, bringing  the issue to the  voters, etc.)                                                                    
     The actual plan  to spend the funds  extracted from the                                                                    
     educational budget of the  public schools is amorphous:                                                                    
     no goals, no criteria, no evaluation.                                                                                      
     In  addition the  Governor mentioned  the use  of white                                                                    
     boards  as  a wonderful  opportunity  for  many of  our                                                                    
     children.   With  the cuts  in personnel,  who are  the                                                                    
     people who will  form the goals and  objectives to make                                                                    
     these experiences a truly educational one?                                                                                 
     It  is clear  that the  individuals in  our legislature                                                                    
     have carefully  planned their  goals for  this session.                                                                    
     They  are  clearly  choreographed  to  produce  certain                                                                    
     outcomes.   Since  this is  a  body that  has sworn  to                                                                    
     provide for the common good  of the people in the State                                                                    
     of Alaska, why are the  State's children offered such a                                                                    
     poorly planned and implemented education?                                                                                  
     As a mother, grandmother,  educator and speech language                                                                    
     pathologist,  I  would  certainly  hope  for  a  better                                                                    
     planned  educational program  for the  children of  the                                                                    
     State of Alaska.                                                                                                           
9:32:04 AM                                                                                                                    
BILL LIGHT stated support for HJR 1 and said it is an American                                                                  
traditional to have choice and discussion.  He urged the                                                                        
committee to send the issue to the polls.                                                                                       
9:32:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE COONS stated support for HJR 1, paraphrasing from a                                                                        
prepared statement, which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                 
     First off HJR  1 is not about vouchers.   All HJR 1 and                                                                    
     SJR 9 does  is refine the Constitution  as to education                                                                    
     and how the  State can dispense funds and  then to give                                                                    
     We  the People  the ability  to debate,  research, find                                                                    
     the  truth, vs  the lies,  and  then go  to the  voting                                                                    
     booth  and  vote  for  or  against  the  Constitutional                                                                    
     Amendment,  period.   In  direct  response to  comments                                                                    
     made that those in the  legislature who feel that since                                                                    
     they have a  college education, that they  are the only                                                                    
     ones able to make such a  decision, I say thanks but no                                                                    
     thanks!  I as a  responsible citizen and voter not only                                                                    
     can, but  will make a  valued decision on  this subject                                                                    
     and will not  give up my God Given rights  to anyone to                                                                    
     cast a  vote for me!   If people cannot  understand the                                                                    
     issue,  don't have  the time  to  research, debate  and                                                                    
     listen to  the facts, then I  say, don't vote!   For to                                                                    
     vote No  or Yes  means you have  weighed the  facts and                                                                    
     made a decision.                                                                                                           
     Secondly, our nation and State  are not a democracy, we                                                                    
     are a REPUBLIC.                                                                                                            
     Third, all private/secular/religious  schools will have                                                                    
     to  meet   all  existing  standards  and   laws.    The                                                                    
     accusation of  segregation that  is sadly  pervasive by                                                                    
     the  NEA and  NAACP  is racist  in  form, function  and                                                                    
     nature and I will  do all I can to point  that out!  In                                                                    
     point of fact,  it is a sad fact that  when the left is                                                                    
     losing a battle,  they revert to pulling  the race card                                                                    
     or personally attacking people!   That is repulsive and                                                                    
     I will continue to fight back!                                                                                             
     Fourth,  the  continual  attack that  this  is  somehow                                                                    
     violating "separation  of Church and State"  is another                                                                    
     red herring.   President  Thomas Jefferson for  far too                                                                    
     long has been  misquoted and I'm sure he  is rolling in                                                                    
     his  grave with  the  progressives using  his words  in                                                                    
     vain!     "Congress  shall   make  no   law  respecting                                                                    
     establishment  of religion",  that  is  from the  First                                                                    
     Amendment and  is clear  as clear can  be to  those who                                                                    
     have even a 5th grade  reading comprehension!  No where                                                                    
     is a  "separation of Church  and State"  even inferred!                                                                    
     All it is  saying is our government cannot  force us to                                                                    
     be any religion, nor making  a State religion as it was                                                                    
     in England.                                                                                                                
     In closing, I  ask only that We the People  are able to                                                                    
     vote this  Constitutional Amendment  up or down  and if                                                                    
     NEA  and   NAACP  or   other  progressive   people  and                                                                    
     organizations want  to vote  against it,  fine.   For I                                                                    
     will be voting YES!                                                                                                        
9:34:03 AM                                                                                                                    
KRISTINA JOHANNES stated support for HJR 1, paraphrasing from a                                                                 
prepared statement, which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                 
     I live  in Representative Lindsey Holmes'  district.  I                                                                    
     am the  mother of  four adult  children who  at various                                                                    
     times  were homeschooled,  public schooled  and private                                                                    
     schooled.   I  represent myself.   Thank  you for  this                                                                    
     opportunity to testify.                                                                                                    
     I urge you  to support HJR1 and let the  people vote on                                                                    
     this important issue.                                                                                                      
     HJR  1 is  about  whether or  not  we should  eliminate                                                                    
     language in  our constitution that  we now know  has an                                                                    
     anti-Catholic pedigree.                                                                                                    
     The United State  Supreme Court has made  it clear that                                                                    
     this language is  not necessary.  I  feel very strongly                                                                    
     that  if  it  is   not  necessary  to  have  particular                                                                    
     language in  our constitution it  is necessary  that we                                                                    
     not have it.                                                                                                               
     As a Catholic  I would prefer that  my constitution not                                                                    
     contain  language derived  from  an  animus against  my                                                                    
     religious ancestors.                                                                                                       
     As  to those  who  fear removing  this  language is  an                                                                    
     attack on public  education, let me reassure  them.  If                                                                    
     HJR  1  passes,  the  education section  of  our  state                                                                    
     constitution will still say,  "The legislature shall by                                                                    
     general law  establish and maintain a  system of public                                                                    
     schools  open to  all children  of the  State, and  may                                                                    
     provide  for  other  public  educational  institutions.                                                                    
     Schools and  institutions so established shall  be free                                                                    
     from sectarian control."                                                                                                   
     Again, I  urge you to  pass this amendment and  let the                                                                    
     people vote on this issue.                                                                                                 
9:35:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MARTHA  FREEMAN stated  opposition  to HJR  1,  opining that  the                                                               
difficulty for school success is  poverty based.  She paraphrased                                                               
from  a  prepared  statement, which  read  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     I'm a resident  of Anchorage, and have  two children in                                                                    
     Anchorage public schools.                                                                                                  
     I have two  points to share regarding HJR1  and the use                                                                    
     of public funds for private schools.                                                                                       
     First, our  public schools  are providing  an excellent                                                                    
     education  for  most  students.   With  a  daughter  in                                                                    
     college   and  another   in   8th   grade,  I've   been                                                                    
     consistently  impressed  with   the  quality  of  their                                                                    
     experience,  thanks   primarily  to   many  outstanding                                                                    
     teachers.   Students that are succeeding  in our public                                                                    
     schools don't need vouchers -  they already have access                                                                    
     to a fine education.                                                                                                       
     Second,  vouchers won't  help the  students who  aren't                                                                    
     succeeding.   Several  years ago  I  attended a  parent                                                                    
     assembly  meeting   to  hear  a  presentation   by  the                                                                    
     Anchorage  School District's  testing  specialist.   He                                                                    
     stated that if  you know the percentage  of students at                                                                    
     a school  that qualify for school  lunch subsidies, you                                                                    
     can predict that school's average  test scores within a                                                                    
     few  percentage points.   Why?    Because school  lunch                                                                    
     subsidies  are an  indicator of  poverty.   Poverty  is                                                                    
     correlated  with   a  host   of  other   problems  from                                                                    
     transience to  poor nutrition to weak  English language                                                                    
     skills.  These are the  real challenges that make it so                                                                    
     difficult  for  some  children to  succeed  in  school.                                                                    
     Sadly, vouchers don't address any of those problems.                                                                       
     In  short,  most  students succeed  within  our  public                                                                    
     schools without  a voucher  system, and  vouchers won't                                                                    
     help those who don't.  The  real goal for us as a city,                                                                    
     a state,  a democracy  is to  address the  poverty that                                                                    
     undermines school  success, so that our  public schools                                                                    
     can provide a great education to all students.                                                                             
9:37:18 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA PAESANI stated  opposition to HJR 1, testifying  as a parent                                                               
of three  children.  She opined  that it would siphon  funds away                                                               
from Alaska's excellent  public schools and a  voucher system may                                                               
create a  segregated atmosphere.   She  said choice  exists, that                                                               
her children attend Romig, and  that there is a healthy diversity                                                               
represented in the student body.   Having attended an information                                                               
meeting  on  this topic,  she  reported  that  there is  more  to                                                               
consider than  tuition cost,  as logistics play  a large  part in                                                               
having  a child  attend  a school  outside  of the  neighborhood.                                                               
Additionally,  comparing  Alaskan   needs  statistically  to  the                                                               
contiguous states is incongruent.                                                                                               
9:39:23 AM                                                                                                                    
TERRIE  GOTTSTEIN stated  opposition to  HJR 1,  and said  she is                                                               
thankful that  her two  children were able  to attend  the public                                                               
school system and are currently  succeeding at the college level.                                                               
The  proposed bill  would  allow state  funding  for private  and                                                               
religious education, which goes  against separation of church and                                                               
state mandates.   At a  time of decreased public  school funding,                                                               
this  type of  action could  decimate  the current  system.   The                                                               
legislature  will be  held accountable,  should a  dismantling of                                                               
the  state  education   program  occur,  as  a   result  of  this                                                               
constitutional amendment  passing.   She suggested that  those in                                                               
support of this  measure could bring the topic to  the ballot via                                                               
a  grassroots  petition,  and  opined   that  such  action  would                                                               
eliminate  outside  funding of  the  issue.   Finally,  the  full                                                               
fiscal impacts need to be further investigated and understood.                                                                  
9:42:26 AM                                                                                                                    
HOPE  FINKELSTEIN stated  opposition  to  HJR 1  and  said it  is                                                               
important to  uphold the current  constitution.  She  thanked the                                                               
committee for  their public service  and reminded them  that they                                                               
are elected to  uphold and protect resources,  as state stewards.                                                               
She cautioned  that it  is important for  the members  to refrain                                                               
from manifesting personal  interests, while in office.   She said                                                               
her two  children attended charter  schools.  Choice  exists, and                                                               
for her family it meant relocation.   To a member's question, she                                                               
indicated that her  children have attended Romig  Middle and West                                                               
High schools.                                                                                                                   
9:46:21 AM                                                                                                                    
LADAWN DRUCE,  Representative, National Education  Association of                                                               
Alaska  (NEAA),  testified with  official  opposition  to HJR  1,                                                               
paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,  which read  as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     I  am speaking  on behalf  of NEA  Alaska and  the over                                                                    
     13,000 members who work in our public schools.                                                                             
     I  thank you  for  the opportunity  to testify  because                                                                    
     constitutional  changes   should  be   considered  very                                                                    
     carefully.   HJR 1 if  passed would start  the dialogue                                                                    
     which  would  lead to  the  greatest  change in  public                                                                    
     education in the state of Alaska since statehood.                                                                          
     To date there has been  no relevant data or information                                                                    
     presented what  would suggest our  state needs  to open                                                                    
     the constitution for this purpose.                                                                                         
     If  "choice"  is the  concern;  I  would ask,  "Is  the                                                                    
     public aware of the  numerous choices we currently have                                                                    
     within our public school structure today?"                                                                                 
     I would also ask; "What  is our state trying to address                                                                    
     with this  type of action?"  If the answer  is "greater                                                                    
     accountability  in education",  then  what evidence  is                                                                    
     there  that  opening   the  constitution  and  allowing                                                                    
     public  monies  to  follow the  student  to  "undefined                                                                    
     educational  choices" would  result  in students  being                                                                    
     better educated in our state?                                                                                              
     There  is  no  evidence  that HJR  1  would  result  in                                                                    
     students  having a  better  educational experience  and                                                                    
     greater opportunities than  they currently have. Please                                                                    
     consider the  following:  Access in  rural Alaska would                                                                    
     be  limited   at  best,  it  would   not  expand  their                                                                    
     education and would  in fact dilute it.   Outside money                                                                    
     will pour  into this  state if this  is on  the ballot.                                                                    
     Americans for Prosperity, members  of ALEC, and the NEA                                                                    
     will  spend  millions  to convince  our  citizens  this                                                                    
     would be good for our state.                                                                                               
     With  school  districts  and the  state  facing  budget                                                                    
     deficits,  we  should not  gamble  on  an expense  this                                                                    
     large  and   should  instead  invest  in   all  of  our                                                                    
     students' education.                                                                                                       
     Please do not pass HJR 1.                                                                                                  
9:47:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD asked how many polled members were being                                                                
represented by her statement.                                                                                                   
MS. DRUCE responded that no poll had been conducted.                                                                            
9:48:36 AM                                                                                                                    
STEPHEN O'BRIEN  stated opposition  for HJR  1, and  stressed the                                                               
need to  proceed with  caution.  He  paraphrased from  a prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     My primary  concern [regarding] HJR 1  is its vagueness                                                                    
     and lack  of accountability.   With this  potential re-                                                                    
     allocation   of   state   resources  how   will   these                                                                    
     expenditures  be  monitored?    Who  will  oversee  the                                                                    
     curriculum?      Will   the  teachers   be   certified?                                                                    
     Administrators?   How will budgets and  expenditures be                                                                    
     monitored?   What  discipline protocols  be determined?                                                                    
     How will  student admission requests be  handled?  Will                                                                    
     these  students  be eligible  for  buses?   I  am  very                                                                    
     concerned about the lack of accountability.                                                                                
     Our  country  was  founded  on  the  cry  "No  taxation                                                                    
     without  representation."    From my  perspective  this                                                                    
     Amendment  would  jeopardize   the  public's  right  to                                                                    
     monitor these public expenditures.                                                                                         
9:50:00 AM                                                                                                                    
JOE  BOYLE, President,  Matanuska-Susitna Education  Association,                                                               
stated  opposition  for  HJR  1,  paraphrasing  from  a  prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     I'm the  president of the Mat-Su  Education Association                                                                    
     and the  father of  two Wasilla High  School graduates.                                                                    
     I am speaking in opposition to HJR.                                                                                        
     Our  goal as  stakeholders  in public  education is  to                                                                    
     provide a quality education to every child.                                                                                
     We  need  to  provide  that education  to  every  child                                                                    
     because  the  health  and prosperity  of  our  republic                                                                    
     depends on it.                                                                                                             
     When  Horace Man  and others  advocated for  universal,                                                                    
     public education in the 19th  century, their intent was                                                                    
     to unify  our increasingly diverse population.   And it                                                                    
     worked!   When I was  a little boy reciting  my lessons                                                                    
     about  George  Washington,  I  had   no  idea  that  my                                                                    
     relatives  came   to  this   country  long   after  the                                                                    
     Revolution.   George  Washington was  the father  of my                                                                    
     country,  and  it  didn't   matter  when  my  ancestors                                                                    
     arrived on these shores.                                                                                                   
     Even today, it's a wonderful  thing to hear little boys                                                                    
     and girls,  some with  distinct accents,  talking about                                                                    
     our  Declaration of  Independence and  our Constitution                                                                    
     as if they were there when they were written.                                                                              
     That's what public schools do.   They continue to unify                                                                    
     our  ever  more  diverse  people.   Because  of  public                                                                    
     schools  we celebrate  our diversity  and our  unity at                                                                    
     the same  time.  This  is one  of the things  that make                                                                    
     our country  exceptional - it's not  that common around                                                                    
     the world -  and we have public education  to thank for                                                                    
     I don't know why some  people want to weaken and dilute                                                                    
     universal,  public  education,  but   I  know  if  they                                                                    
     succeed, our children and  grandchildren will regret it                                                                    
     and ask us why?                                                                                                            
     I  support public  schools;  I support  the  idea of  a                                                                    
     people  united;  I  don't   support  the  dividing  and                                                                    
     sorting of  American children, and I  don't support HJR                                                                    
9:51:52 AM                                                                                                                    
ALISON ARIANS stated opposition to HJR 1, paraphrasing from a                                                                   
prepared statement, which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                 
     Sometimes  when I've  listened to  the  debate on  this                                                                    
     bill, I've  wondered whether it's really  worth arguing                                                                    
     about.   "So what," I  think.   If people want  to risk                                                                    
     sending their  kids to unaccredited schools  that might                                                                    
     spring  up  to  take advantage  of  their  stat-sourced                                                                    
     funds, well,  that's not  my problem.   Lots  of people                                                                    
     have  had  bad  experiences   in  the  Lower  48,  with                                                                    
     unscrupulous  school  owners   taking  off  with  their                                                                    
     money, or  just not educating their  children properly.                                                                    
     But my child will be  safe in our public school system.                                                                    
     Why should I bother weighing in?                                                                                           
     The reason  is that  I have  listened to  what teachers                                                                    
     have to say  about this bill.  I am  not a teacher, nor                                                                    
     have  I  ever  been  a  member  of  the  NEA  [National                                                                    
     Education Association].   But I have  great respect for                                                                    
     the  teachers  in  our  schools.    They  are  doing  a                                                                    
     wonderful job educating our children.                                                                                      
     Some legislators seem to  feel that teachers' testimony                                                                    
     on this resolution is worthless.   But teachers are the                                                                    
     very  people  we  should be  asking  about  this  bill.                                                                  
     Let's  acknowledge teachers'  expertise.    If we  were                                                                    
     instituting a change in oil  policy, of course we would                                                                    
     ask the oil companies their opinions.                                                                                      
     When I listen  to what the teachers are  saying, I hear                                                                    
     a  resounding  NO  on  this   resolution.    Will  this                                                                    
     resolution  have a  negative  impact on  the kids  with                                                                    
     plenty of parental  involvement and economic resources?                                                                    
     That's  not  clear.   What  is  clear is  the  negative                                                                  
     impact  on the  kids without  it.   Lots of  kids don't                                                                    
     have  the option  of  having mom  or  dad driving  them                                                                    
     around  town  to a  school  other  than a  neighborhood                                                                    
     school.   And  if resources  are bled  from those  very                                                                    
     neighborhood  schools educating  our poorest  students,                                                                    
     they are shortchanged even more.                                                                                           
     Please  be   responsive  to  what  our   public  school                                                                    
     teachers have to say.  Thank you.                                                                                          
9:53:35 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDY HOLLEMAN, President,  Anchorage Education Association (AEA),                                                               
testified with official opposition to  HJR 1, paraphrasing from a                                                               
prepared statement,  which read as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     I'm president  of the Anchorage  Education Association,                                                                    
     representing  3500  educators  in the  Municipality  of                                                                    
     I'm in  Representative Lynn's district, and  I have one                                                                    
     son that went  to private kindergarten.  In  the ASD he                                                                    
     was in  an alternative  school, an optional  program, a                                                                    
     neighborhood  school, a  program within  a neighborhood                                                                    
     school,  an ASD  charter school,  and a  private/public                                                                    
     partnership his senior year.                                                                                               
     I am a member of the NEA.  I'm speaking against HJR 1.                                                                     
     I'm also a happy resident  of south Anchorage, and it's                                                                    
     a fine  part of  town.  I've  lived there  for decades,                                                                    
     and taught there  for some time as well.   We're pretty                                                                    
     independent.  We  do some of our  own road maintenance,                                                                    
     and   some  of   our  neighborhoods   have  their   own                                                                    
     individual or community well and  septic.  We take care                                                                    
     of a lot  of things on our  own.  We tend  to be pretty                                                                    
     well mannered  and cooperative.   And  yes, we  chip in                                                                    
     for  police and  fire and  the all  kinds of  stuff all                                                                    
     over  Anchorage even  if we  don't  use so  much of  it                                                                    
     I've often  thought how nice it  would be for us  to be                                                                    
     our own school  district.  If we were  smaller and more                                                                    
     nimble we  could do things  we cannot  now.  We  have a                                                                    
     lot of  parental support in the  neighborhood, and that                                                                    
     would add a big boost to  us as a compact district.  If                                                                    
     we as a  community wanted to run our  own schools, we'd                                                                    
     do a  great job.  We'd  just need some of  our property                                                                    
     tax  money and  the  money you  currently  give to  the                                                                    
     Anchorage school district.                                                                                                 
     But there's  a reason  we shouldn't  ask you  for that,                                                                    
     and there's  a reason  you should  say NO  to us  if we                                                                    
     Yes, we  would do a great  job with our children.   But                                                                    
     YOUR  job   is  to   see  to   the  education   of  ALL                                                                    
     children…..not just  ours.  That  we are "in"  with the                                                                    
     rest of Anchorage makes a lot  of sense, and even if we                                                                    
     want to  draw a  line around  ourselves, and  take this                                                                    
     on…...well,  we could  do that,  on our  own.   But you                                                                    
     shouldn't fund it.                                                                                                         
     Similarly,  although the  logic is  inviting, when  you                                                                    
     fund  individuals  to  make  choices  about  their  own                                                                    
     children, you may have made  them happier, but you have                                                                    
     not met  YOUR responsibilities  to the State  of Alaska                                                                    
     as  outlined   in  the  Constitution.     You   have  a                                                                    
     responsibility to educate all  children.  That includes                                                                    
     the  students  with  great  parents,  the  students  of                                                                    
     parents  that aren't  doing so  well, and  the students                                                                    
     that have no parents at all.                                                                                               
     If  you  try to  solve  education  problems by  handing                                                                    
     vouchers to people to spend  on their own children, you                                                                    
     don't   fulfill  your   mandate  to   educate  Alaska's                                                                    
     children.  Make Alaska education  the best you can, and                                                                    
     leave people free to make their own choices.                                                                               
9:56:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN  RICHOTTE  stated opposition  to  HJR  1, agreed  with  the                                                               
previous  speaker and  said the  conversation needs  to be  fully                                                               
explored and  expanded.  She  said harm  could occur, such  as in                                                               
the Copper River Basin school district.   The area once had seven                                                               
schools,  but three  have  been closed  in recent  years.   As  a                                                               
parent, she has  one child at Roger's Park Elementary  and one in                                                               
9:57:34 AM                                                                                                                    
DEENA MITCHELL stated opposition to  HJR 1, stating that it would                                                               
be naïve  to expect no  impact to the  public schools.   She said                                                               
her three children have been  attending the public system for the                                                               
last three  years, having  arrived from an  area in  Chicago that                                                               
has received  national recognition  for school  quality.   A non-                                                               
partisan  study shows  that an  immediate $100  million would  be                                                               
drained from the Alaska public  system, should the voucher system                                                               
be adopted.   Oversight of the voucher system would  be costly or                                                               
possibly lost,  and she  opined that the  vetting process  on the                                                               
entire  bill  appears  to  be  weak.   Statistics  from  a  poll,                                                               
recently released by the Anchorage  Chamber of Commerce, indicate                                                               
strong community  support for the  public schools.   Further, she                                                               
maintained it  is the  responsibility of  the legislature  to use                                                               
their  resources and  time to  vet issues  of this  nature.   She                                                               
     To  say that  you should  put it  to the  voters for  a                                                                    
     choice, to me, is very disingenuous.   ...  Only if you                                                                    
     think it  is in the  best interest of Alaska,  and your                                                                    
     stewardship,  for  all  our ...  children,  should  you                                                                    
     release this to a vote  by the general public; which is                                                                    
     going to be greatly influenced  by money from the Lower                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS clarified that it  was the recent National Education                                                               
Association (NEA)  poll, which  indicates how  90 percent  of the                                                               
parents  throughout  the  state   would  recommend  their  public                                                               
10:02:30 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID  NEES stated  support  for  HJR 1  by  making four  points.                                                               
First,  he  said  the state  constitution  has  been  continually                                                               
amended  since it  was written;  by both  legislative action  and                                                               
citizen  initiative.    Secondly,  the term  "voucher"  does  not                                                               
appear in the  language of HJR 1.  Thirdly,  the religious school                                                               
argument is  false, he  opined and read  language from  the bill,                                                               
which  states,  "...  will  be   free  from  sectarian  control."                                                               
Fourth,  an [education]  task force  member has  stated that  the                                                               
discussion,  for  too  long,  has   been  between  three  groups:                                                               
unions,  legislators,  and EED;  it  is  time to  bring  parents,                                                               
teachers, and business into the discussion.   He said HJR 1 would                                                               
bring the absent voices into  the discussion.  Finally, he added,                                                               
no Title  I charter schools exist,  and the working poor  have no                                                               
options for  education.   He said  they want  the best  for their                                                               
children also,  but trust  the legislature  to provide  a quality                                                               
system;  having  no  time  to  leave their  jobs  and  lobby  for                                                               
10:05:10 AM                                                                                                                   
DANNA GRAMMER, Business Owner, stated opposition to HJR 1,                                                                      
paraphrasing from a prepared statement, which read as follows                                                                   
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     I am  a small business  owner and single  mother living                                                                    
     in the Anchorage School District.   So to say that I do                                                                    
     not  have the  time  to  be here  today  is putting  it                                                                    
     politely.  However,  I am here because  I'm very afraid                                                                    
     of how  our state  is proposing  to handle  our current                                                                    
     public   education  system.      My  daughter   attends                                                                    
     Government Hill Elementary School  and is registered in                                                                    
     the Spanish Immersion program.   She has been given the                                                                    
     gift of a  second language through this  program.  What                                                                    
     I  call  a "gift"  of  a  second language  is  actually                                                                    
     mandatory  in  most  developed nations  throughout  the                                                                    
     world.   So  I am  thankful that  the Anchorage  School                                                                    
     District  offers this  program  so my  daughter has  an                                                                    
     additional skill that she can  use when she is an adult                                                                    
     and  faces  having to  compete  in  a very  competitive                                                                    
     global economy.                                                                                                            
     I am here to testify in  opposition to the [HJR 1] bill                                                                    
     currently   under  consideration   in  the   Senate  to                                                                    
     eliminate  the part  of the  Alaska State  constitution                                                                    
     that specifically states that  public funds will not be                                                                    
     used to fund private schools.                                                                                              
     I understand the proposed bill  is only to take this to                                                                    
     a  vote  of  the  people.  However,  why  are  we  even                                                                    
     considering such a measure when  our public schools are                                                                    
     facing harsh budget cuts such  as increased class sizes                                                                    
     in already overfull class rooms,  less funds for school                                                                    
     supplies  when  many  teachers are  already  purchasing                                                                    
     supplies    out   of    their    own   pockets,    less                                                                    
     extracurricular activities  that contribute  to overall                                                                    
     develop  of a  child,  less school  counselors to  help                                                                    
     assist and guide  our students to a  better future, and                                                                    
     the  list goes  on.   I would  like it  if our  elected                                                                    
     public  officials would  spend  their  time and  energy                                                                    
     into  fixing  the  problems  in  public  school  system                                                                    
     rather  than  trying  to  fund  private  and  religious                                                                    
     schools.  I  know there are some  legislatures that are                                                                    
     working  toward  that goal  and  I  do appreciate  your                                                                    
     The Alaska  education system is  not without  its flaws                                                                    
     as is  how the state  of Alaska appropriates  the funds                                                                    
     in its budget.  However, it  should be a mission of ALL                                                                    
     members of  the legislature  of this state  to continue                                                                    
     to  work  on  those  flaws and  improve  public  school                                                                    
     education--NOT   pass   off  this   responsibility   to                                                                    
     privately run schools or schools  based on a particular                                                                    
     religious philosophy  that is  only going to  benefit a                                                                    
     small segment of  school age children in  Alaska.  With                                                                    
     90%  of  Anchorage  school age  children  (and  90%  of                                                                    
     Alaska  school age  children) attending  public school,                                                                    
     this bill does  not accomplish that mission.   It is my                                                                    
     belief that this bill undermines that mission.                                                                             
     Thank  you for  taking  the time  to  hear my  concerns                                                                    
     today.  It is my hope  that what I have said today will                                                                    
     encourage  you  to  prioritize  the  education  of  the                                                                    
     majority  of   Alaska's  children  who   attend  public                                                                    
10:08:12 AM                                                                                                                   
DON GRAY  stated opposition  to HJR 1  stressing that  the public                                                               
schools  would suffer  economic  harm through  the process  being                                                               
proposed.   He said  his two children  graduated from  the public                                                               
schools and  both had  successful college  careers, as  well, who                                                               
have  produced two  grandchildren  now  attending Anchorage  area                                                               
charter schools.  This measure  would dilute the public funds and                                                               
remove  schools  from democratic  control  of  a locally  elected                                                               
school board.                                                                                                                   
10:10:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MARY GRAHAM  stated opposition to  HJR 1, stressing  the negative                                                               
effect that occurred  in her home town in  Wisconsin, which, once                                                               
a model  system, is now being  decimated by this type  of action.                                                               
She urged  the committee  to consider what  has happened  in that                                                               
area.  Additionally, she clarified  that the previously mentioned                                                               
poll was funded by the NEA  but designed by the Anchorage Chamber                                                               
of  Commerce and  United  Way.   She  urged the  need  to have  a                                                               
discussion about supporting public  schools, not a constitutional                                                               
10:11:58 AM                                                                                                                   
ANN FULLER  stated opposition  to HJR 1,  stating that  her child                                                               
attended public school.   She said she has taught  for the Bureau                                                               
of  Indian Affairs  and acknowledged  that it  is a  challenge to                                                               
educate  children throughout  Alaska.   Funding  a public  school                                                               
system open  to all children  is the  job of this  committee, she                                                               
10:12:38 AM                                                                                                                   
MARY  HAKALA stated  opposition to  HJR  1, and  said her  school                                                               
career was in  the Juneau public school system, as  were three of                                                               
her children.   When the Juneau Community  Charter school formed,                                                               
she  was one  of the  founders; volunteering  many hours  to help                                                               
offer  a  unique opportunity  as  an  improvement on  the  public                                                               
system.  She  suggested focus be brought to  improve the existing                                                               
public school system,  and said the amendment would be  an act of                                                               
violence on the state.                                                                                                          
10:13:43 AM                                                                                                                   
ANDREA  STORY,  Member,  Juneau   School  Board,  testified  with                                                               
official  opposition  to  HJR 1,  paraphrasing  from  a  prepared                                                               
document, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                
     I  am a  member of  the Juneau  School Board  and I  am                                                                    
     testifying today on behalf of  the Board.  The Board is                                                                    
     in opposition to HJR 1.                                                                                                    
     The intent  appears well meaning  to give  more choices                                                                    
     to families  in education  and to make  improvements to                                                                    
     education.    But in  examining  what  has happened  in                                                                    
     other states, this is not the case.                                                                                        
     It  appears that  this  gives a  false  choice to  many                                                                    
     parents   and  community   members.     It  assumes   a                                                                    
     significantly better  education for their  children and                                                                    
     the community's children than public schools.                                                                              
     In  looking at  information  on  evaluation of  student                                                                    
     performance in  current voucher programs,  research and                                                                    
     evaluation  have  found  little  of  no  difference  in                                                                    
     voucher   and   public  school   student   performance.                                                                    
     Vouchers from  D.C. to Cleveland to  Milwaukee have not                                                                    
     raised student achievement.                                                                                                
     Another false  choice to parents and  community members                                                                    
     is  that   vouchers  give  choices  to   all  families.                                                                    
     Vouchers give choices to  private schools, not parents.                                                                    
     Private  schools   decide  if   they  want   to  accept                                                                    
     vouchers,  and how  many students  they want  to admit.                                                                    
     Private  schools can  discriminate against  students on                                                                    
     the basis  of disability and economic  status or reject                                                                    
     students with poor academic  performance.  Students may                                                                    
     qualify for a  voucher but may never be able  to use it                                                                    
     because private schools may choose  not to accept them.                                                                    
     Public   schools  are   not  to   discriminate  against                                                                    
     families based on any circumstances,  if they do, there                                                                    
     are grave consequences.                                                                                                    
     Public education  is a building  block to  our society.                                                                    
     It  brings   our  youth  and  families   and  community                                                                    
     together, it is a basis  of our democratic system.  Our                                                                    
     families   of   different  faiths,   ethnicities,   and                                                                    
     financial backgrounds  come together and learn  to work                                                                    
     together and  respect our diversity  and see  how alike                                                                    
     we all are.                                                                                                                
     Public  schools are  accountable  to their  communities                                                                    
     and  state.   Elected school  board members  and school                                                                    
     staff are  working very, very  hard to  improve student                                                                    
     achievement.    Higher  standards  have  been  adopted,                                                                    
     attention   to  professional   development,  monitoring                                                                    
     student  progress  and  providing  choices  within  the                                                                    
     public schools.  Budgets are scrutinized                                                                                   
10:16:02 AM                                                                                                                   
SUSAN  SIMMONS stated  support for  HJR 1,  and said  she is  the                                                               
mother  of  four children  who  were  home  schooled as  well  as                                                               
attended charter and public schools.   The charter schools in the                                                               
area  have long  wait  lists  and a  voucher  system could  prove                                                               
helpful, even to low income families.   In some states, this type                                                               
of move  has been  helpful; she finished,  urging passage  of the                                                               
10:17:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  moved to report  HJR 1 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX objected for discussion.                                                                                  
10:17:28 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  said she remains conflicted  on this topic                                                               
and postulated at  length on both sides of  the issue, mentioning                                                               
legal  as  well  as  public   considerations,  and  the  existing                                                               
educational options.   Finally,  she said,  although it  does not                                                               
necessarily represent  any future  vote, at  this point  she will                                                               
support moving the bill from committee.                                                                                         
10:21:22 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE    SEATON    recapped   that    the    committee's                                                               
responsibility calls for consideration  of the fiscal constraints                                                               
prior  to passage  of the  bill.   He said  fiscally it  would be                                                               
difficult to  support this proposed legislation,  and he reviewed                                                               
the  funding requirements  and the  possible  negative impact  on                                                               
public  school  allocations.   Further,  accountability  must  be                                                               
considered.    Referring  to  a  section  of  previously  drafted                                                               
legislation, labeled  committee substitute  (CS) for HB  145, 27-                                                               
LS0223\G, which  preceded HJR  1, and  passed this  committee, he                                                               
paraphrased the language which states:                                                                                          
     (b) Nothing in this chapter authorizes the department                                                                      
      to regulate a participating private school except as                                                                      
     necessary to carry out the program.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON pointed  out,  that  given this  language,                                                               
there is no criteria that can  be used for oversight by the state                                                               
to ensure teacher/curriculum quality  and standards.  He reminded                                                               
the committee that  a two-thirds floor vote is  required to amend                                                               
the constitution, and such restriction  is imposed to ensure that                                                               
the  legislature takes  the  time to  understand  all facets  and                                                               
effects  in detail.   He  said that  given the  current level  of                                                               
discussion, and seeing no benefit  to the public education system                                                               
by  passage,  he  would  not  be supporting  moving  HJR  1  from                                                               
committee today.                                                                                                                
10:24:35 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER said  moving  the bill  out of  committee                                                               
will  not be  the  final word,  but will  serve  in allowing  the                                                               
process to continue.                                                                                                            
10:25:15 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD reiterated that  the Blaine Amendment was                                                               
a  bigoted,  anti-Catholic,  antireligious measure  and  enabling                                                               
legislation  was forwarded  to  ensure  that federal  territories                                                               
planning to  become states included this,  or similar, amendments                                                               
in  the development  of constitutions;  every state  formed after                                                               
1876 has  included the Blaine Amendment.   The passage of  HJR 1,                                                               
she opined,  will allow the voters  of Alaska to have  a voice in                                                               
the question of whether to alter the state's founding document.                                                                 
10:26:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON commented that other  states hold their                                                               
own  counsel,  and all  are  attempting  to improve  their  local                                                               
public schools.   No silver bullet exists, nor  is there evidence                                                               
that state funding of private  schools is effective, and she said                                                               
it is  important to consider  unintended consequences.   The base                                                               
result  of this  legislation is  that the  state will  be charged                                                               
with funding private schools.   She maintained that the committee                                                               
should have  the opportunity to  delve further into  the possible                                                               
ramifications and  fiscal implications,  and opined  that passing                                                               
the bill from committee today would be premature.                                                                               
10:28:35 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND said the feedback  to her office has been                                                               
overwhelming opposition for this bill.   Further, she opined that                                                               
it would  be remiss, and  irresponsible to release the  bill from                                                               
committee   without   further  investigation   regarding   fiscal                                                               
10:29:17 AM                                                                                                                   
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  LeDoux, Saddler,                                                               
Reinbold, and  Gattis voted in  favor of HJR 1.   Representatives                                                               
Drummond, Seaton,  and P.  Wilson voted  against it.   Therefore,                                                               
HJR 1 was reported out  of the House Education Standing Committee                                                               
by a vote of 4-3.                                                                                                               
10:30:02 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR GATTIS thanked the committee  for continuing through to the                                                               
day's session call.                                                                                                             
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR1 - public comment.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Public comment.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB278 Fiscal Note EED PEF.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB278 fiscalNote SSA.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB278 fiscalNote US SYSBRA.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB245 E-mail Testimony - Nees.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 245
HJR1 Email David Nyman.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB0278A Testimony with change to section 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HJR 1 Am Fed Child support.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Am Fed Child support.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Hume.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Robbins letter.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Testimony from League of Women Voters.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Testimony Bethany Marcum.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Email David Nyman.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Resolution-WestPTSA-opposing HJR1&SJR9.PDF HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony - various public members part 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Compilation of Public Testimonies.PDF HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony - various public members part 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony Megan Richotte.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Public Testimony - various part 3.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 E-mail testimonies - mulitple authors 2-12-14.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
E-mail testimonies - mulitple authors.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM