Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106

03/14/2020 01:00 PM EDUCATION

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01:03:11 PM Start
01:04:15 PM HB153
03:44:37 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
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+= HB 153 PRE-ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS/FUNDING TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 14, 2020                                                                                         
                           1:03 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Representative Mike Prax                                                                                                        
Representative DeLena Johnson (via teleconference)                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 153                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to early education programs  provided by school                                                               
districts; relating to funding for  early education programs; and                                                               
relating to the duties of the  state Board of Education and Early                                                               
Development."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 153                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PRE-ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS/FUNDING                                                                                    
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) DRUMMOND                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
05/07/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/07/19       (H)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
03/09/20       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/09/20       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/20       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/11/20       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/11/20       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/11/20       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/14/20       (H)       EDC AT 1:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
VANESSA ADNEY                                                                                                                   
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ASHLEY BIRD                                                                                                                     
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MADISYN REEM, Teacher                                                                                                           
Alaska Children's Academy                                                                                                       
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
APRIL BROWN, Owner                                                                                                              
Alaska Children's Academy                                                                                                       
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA BARRICK                                                                                                                  
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT BROWN                                                                                                                    
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
EMILY SPINZLER                                                                                                                  
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REBEKAH SIMCO                                                                                                                   
International Dyslexia Association                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE KILCOYNE                                                                                                              
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
POSIE BOGGS                                                                                                                     
Alaska Reading Coalition                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE BROOKS                                                                                                                  
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JUDY ELEDGE                                                                                                                     
Alaska State Literacy Coordinator                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BOB GRIFFIN                                                                                                                     
Alaska Policy Forum                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KERRIE SPAIN                                                                                                                    
Bright Lights Learning Center                                                                                                   
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
KARIN HALPIN, Principal                                                                                                         
Rocky Mountain School                                                                                                           
Goodnews Bay, Alaska                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RONDA SCHLUMBOHM, Teacher                                                                                                       
Salcha Elementary School                                                                                                        
Salcha, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ASHLYN ANDERSON                                                                                                                 
Alaska Children's Academy                                                                                                       
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MARY MARKS                                                                                                                      
Tlingit & Haida Community Council                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MOLLY CARVER, Interim Policy Specialist                                                                                         
Alaska Children's Trust                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MARY KRETZSCHMAR                                                                                                                
Decoding Dyslexia Alaska                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH PICHLER                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LEIGH SLOAN                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY MARCUM, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Policy Forum                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
VICKI CAMPBELL                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LONDA CASQUEIRA                                                                                                                 
Big Lake, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA HIMSCHOOT                                                                                                               
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM BROWN                                                                                                                   
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BRITTANI CLANCEY                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TERRI WALKER, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Northwest Arctic Borough School District                                                                                        
Kotzebue, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LISA VILLANO                                                                                                                    
Alaska Council for Exceptional Children                                                                                         
Shishmaref, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER WAISANEN                                                                                                               
Chugiak, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LESA MEATH                                                                                                                      
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ABBE HENSLEY                                                                                                                    
Best Beginnings                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KATIE BOTZ                                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 153.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
STACY FOSHEE                                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE BERGLUND, Chief Executive Officer                                                                                     
Thread Alaska                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JODI TAYLOR                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 153.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PEGGY COWAN                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:03:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HARRIET DRUMMOND  called the  House Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 1:03 p.m.   Representatives Story,                                                               
Hopkins, Tuck,  Zulkosky, Prax, Johnson (via  teleconference) and                                                               
Drummond were present at the call to order.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
             HB 153-PRE-ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS/FUNDING                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  announced that  the  only  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 153,  "An Act relating to early education                                                               
programs provided  by school districts;  relating to  funding for                                                               
early  education programs;  and  relating to  the  duties of  the                                                               
state Board  of Education  and Early  Development."   [Before the                                                               
committee was the proposed committee  substitute (CS) for HB 153,                                                               
Version  31-LS0928\U,  Caouette,  3/4/20, adopted  as  a  working                                                               
document during  the House  Education Standing  Committee meeting                                                               
on 3/9/20.]                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:05:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony on HB 153.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:05:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VANESSA  ADNEY  noted that  she  currently  works for  a  daycare                                                               
service in Palmer.  She expressed  concern that HB 153 would push                                                               
children under the  age of three into unlicensed  care that lacks                                                               
guidelines  and safety  precautions.   She  said  the bill  would                                                               
impact young children  who cannot yet voice their  opinion if any                                                               
grievances   were  to   occur.     She  opined   that  children's                                                               
development could  be negatively impacted if  their parents can't                                                               
afford to  place them  in childcare that  follows state  and city                                                               
guidelines.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:07:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ASHLEY BIRD shared  her belief that under HB  153, children under                                                               
the  age of  three would  be placed  into unlicensed  care.   She                                                               
opined  that the  bill would  negatively impact  parents who  are                                                               
priced out of the childcare  market; further, she said this could                                                               
lead  to   a  "day   care  market  crash."     She   offered  her                                                               
understanding  that income  from  providing  a preschool  program                                                               
often funds costs, such as  the building lease.  She approximated                                                               
that providing infant/toddler care would  only bring in enough to                                                               
pay for  teachers because of  a low child-to-teacher ratio.   She                                                               
said without a building to  lease, childcare centers would close,                                                               
leaving only  unlicensed care  options available.   Additionally,                                                               
she  posited  that that  half-day  preschools  located in  public                                                               
schools are  currently being  taught by  people without  an early                                                               
child development degree.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:10:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK pointed out that  no one would be forced into                                                               
the  early education  component of  HB 153,  as it  is "universal                                                               
voluntary."    He pointed  out  that  a parent/teacher  component                                                               
would also be available for parents  who would like to keep their                                                               
children at  home.  He sought  to clarify Ms. Birds   position on                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. BIRD said she  is opposed to HB 153.   She offered her belief                                                               
that the cost  of infant/toddler care would  increase in response                                                               
to school districts offering free  early education programs.  She                                                               
explained that  childcare services offered from  homes or centers                                                               
would be less  inclined to accept children over the  age of three                                                               
because "the school system [will] try to take them anyway."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked for Ms.  Bird's opinion on  the bill's                                                               
literacy component.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BIRD offered  her understanding  that  children are  already                                                               
being taught how  to read in kindergarten.  She  said her concern                                                               
is based  on the  expectation that K-12  teachers are  capable of                                                               
successfully  teaching early  childhood education,  which in  her                                                               
opinion, it's not realistic.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:13:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MADISYN  REEM,  Teacher,  Alaska  Children's  Academy,  expressed                                                               
concern that  HB 153  would force  children into  Alaskas  school                                                               
system prematurely.   She pointed  out that children  between the                                                               
age  of  three  and  four  have a  hard  time  controlling  their                                                               
emotions; furthermore,  she surmised  that they wouldn't  be able                                                               
to  safely expel  their  extra  energy, as  schools  do not  have                                                               
appropriate  playgrounds  for  preschoolers.   She  said  if  her                                                               
childcare  center offered  infant/toddler  care exclusively,  she                                                               
would not  be able  to afford  the lease or  electric bill.   She                                                               
opined that under  HB 153, children under the age  of three would                                                               
not be taught  age appropriate material from  teachers with early                                                               
childhood  education  degrees.   She  posited  that Alaskas   low                                                               
standardized test scores  attest to a lack  of "proper education"                                                               
in the  states  schools; consequently,  she opposed  turning more                                                               
children  over to  the  school system.    Additionally, she  said                                                               
studies show  that prematurely sending  children to  a brick-and-                                                               
mortar school can negatively impact  their development.  Overall,                                                               
she  said [HB  153]  is  not in  the  best  interest of  Alaskas                                                                
children.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK asked  Ms. Reem  what she  would like  to do                                                               
with her early education degree.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. REEM  said she is  hoping to  become an administrator  at the                                                               
Alaska Children's Academy.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:17:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
APRIL BROWN,  Owner, Alaska Children's  Academy, stated  that she                                                               
opposes HB 153.  She  said the child-to-teacher ratio for infants                                                               
and  toddlers is  low, so  childcare services  make little  money                                                               
from that  age group.  She  posited that providing free  care for                                                               
preschoolers  would  cause a  "daycare  desert."   She  expressed                                                               
concern that  Alaskas  education system employs  K-12 teachers in                                                               
[preschool] classrooms.   She argued  that these teachers  do not                                                               
have  an  early  childhood  education  degree  and  cannot  teach                                                               
appropriate  curriculums  for  preschoolers,  which  hinders  the                                                               
children's   development.      Furthermore,   she   said   losing                                                               
preschoolers  would  require  the Alaska  Childrens   Academy  to                                                               
raise rates to  cover the cost of the  [building] lease, workers'                                                               
compensation,  and  daycare  insurance, which  would  cause  many                                                               
parents  to  look  elsewhere  for childcare.    She  opined  that                                                               
unlicensed care options  cannot provide the same  quality of care                                                               
to the states most vulnerable age group.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:23:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK  reiterated   that   the  early   education                                                               
component of HB 153 is  a voluntary, universal pre-K program that                                                               
would initially  be available in  10 schools.  He  explained that                                                               
children would not  be required to enroll in  the program, adding                                                               
that the goal is to ensure reading proficiency by grade three.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:24:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA BARRICK said she opposes  HB 153 because it is financially                                                               
irresponsible.  She questioned the  proposal of free daycare when                                                               
the state  is in  a financial  crisis.  She  said the  bill would                                                               
hurt daycare businesses  and would not be in  the children's best                                                               
interest.  She opined that  Alaska needs to find more responsible                                                               
ways to "trim the fat" and spend the money that is available.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:25:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT BROWN, said, "I oppose this  bill.  I don't think you guys                                                               
should be taking our dividend for whatever this bill is about."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:26:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EMILY SPINZLER  said she opposes  HB 153.  She  expressed concern                                                               
that the bill would impact  children's mental health, adding that                                                               
children ages three to four  require a different environment than                                                               
what public schools  currently provide.  She  opined that daycare                                                               
offers  an   environment  that  encourages   creativity,  whereas                                                               
schools  adhere to  rules and  guidelines that  restrict learning                                                               
and  lack support.   She  offered her  belief that  placing young                                                               
children  in a  school environment  before  they are  ready is  a                                                               
misuse of state money.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:28:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBEKAH  SIMCO, International  Dyslexia Association,  said as  an                                                               
educator  who  is  invested in  delivering  high-quality  reading                                                               
instruction, she supports HB 153  and urged the committee to pass                                                               
it with full  funding.  She recounted her struggle  working as an                                                               
immediate  resource  teacher  in the  Anchorage  School  District                                                               
where the struggle  to read qualifies most of her  students for a                                                               
specific  learning disability.    She explained  that reading  is                                                               
often  the reason  her colleagues  refer students  for a  special                                                               
education  evaluation.   She related  that reading  interventions                                                               
that should be  delivered by trained staff  are being implemented                                                               
by teachers who are either  untrained or improperly trained.  She                                                               
explained  that   effective  reading  instruction   requires  the                                                               
integration of  high-quality, evidence-based  practices; however,                                                               
currently,  students are  being  filtered into  the same  reading                                                               
groups  every  year, leaving  them  to  fall behind  until  being                                                               
referred to special  education services.  She  further noted that                                                               
half of  her students are  "identified" around third grade.   She                                                               
applauded  the Colorado  READ Act  for  supporting educators  and                                                               
students by equipping  them with reading strategies  and said she                                                               
strongly supports HB 153.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE KILCOYNE stated her opposition  to HB 153.  She offered                                                               
her understanding that children under  the age of five should not                                                               
be in  an educational  setting for  more than  three hours.   She                                                               
suggested that schools provide two  hours of preschool in replace                                                               
of  the bill's  current  proposal; she  opined  that providing  a                                                               
whole day of care would be inappropriate.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:35:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  noted that the  preschool program  included in                                                               
the  Alaska  Reads  Act  would   be  a  half-day  program.    She                                                               
reiterated that  it is  strictly voluntary.   She  explained that                                                               
the  program would  work in  coordination with  ongoing preschool                                                               
programs  in   the  state,  including  Head   Start,  Parents  as                                                               
Teachers, and Best Beginnings.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY added  that when  district  enrollment drops,  so                                                               
does the funding for schools.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:36:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
POSIE  BOGGS, Alaska  Reading Coalition,  opined that  HB 153  is                                                               
 bold.     She  offered  her understanding  that  implementing  a                                                               
comprehensive  statewide   reading  policy   with  evidence-based                                                               
instruction  and  intervention  is   designed  to  move  Alaska's                                                               
students into reading  proficiency.  She offered  her belief that                                                               
the bill  would translate into  preparation for  kindergarten and                                                               
allow the students  to follow a consistent reading  plan to grade                                                               
three.  She added that  it would provide opportunities to enhance                                                               
evidence-based reading  instruction as  early as preschool.   She                                                               
suggested that  the legislature consider helping  parents pay for                                                               
daycare to  ensure that childcare  businesses continue to  make a                                                               
profit.    To  conclude,  she   expressed  her  support  for  the                                                               
committee's effort.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:41:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE  BROOKS informed  the committee  that  she completed  her                                                               
doctorate in education  and is currently a  reading specialist in                                                               
Ketchikan.   She stated her support  for HB 153, adding  that she                                                               
is in favor  of universal kindergarten for  all Alaskan students,                                                               
as  well  as   a  reading  specialist  in  every   school.    She                                                               
highlighted  research from  the  learning  policy institute  that                                                               
found  investing  in  quality   preschool  programs  can  bolster                                                               
students'  success; however,  the  benefits can  be negated  when                                                               
preschoolers are  placed in large classrooms.   Consequently, she                                                               
opined that  HB 153  should also  emphasize smaller  class sizes.                                                               
Furthermore, she offered  her belief that educators  must be part                                                               
of the discussion  and urged the committee to  consult those with                                                               
direct  experience  in  early  and  elementary  education.    She                                                               
emphasized  the need  for preschool  instruction, targeted  small                                                               
group   instruction,   assessments,   progress   monitoring   and                                                               
reporting.  She  added HB 153 goes a long  way towards addressing                                                               
student    skill  deficits and,  provided  time  and funding  are                                                               
available, could beneficially impact student learning in Alaska.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:45:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUDY  ELEDGE,   Alaska  State  Literacy  Coordinator,   said  she                                                               
strongly supports HB 153 because  additional support is necessary                                                               
to ensure all  students read by grade three.   She added that she                                                               
is in  favor of the pre-K  component because it is  voluntary and                                                               
clearly  outlines necessary  preparations  for students  entering                                                               
kindergarten.   She offered her  belief that this  legislation is                                                               
necessary  to ensure  all teachers  are  trained in  professional                                                               
development  for preschool  children.   Furthermore, she  said HB
153  brings an  element of  state level  support, which  has been                                                               
missing for some time.  She  opined that the bill would encourage                                                               
consistent  policy across  districts  for the  betterment of  all                                                               
students.    She  addressed  the   poor  reading  proficiency  in                                                               
Alaska's  students,  later  adding   that  the  bill  would  hold                                                               
everyone  accountable   for  the  education  that   all  students                                                               
deserve.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:50:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY inquired  as  to why  retention, if  not                                                               
mandatory, is included in this legislation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ELEDGE  opined that [retention]  provides the  opportunity to                                                               
discuss a  student's progress and contemplate  strategies for his                                                               
or her success;  further, it holds everyone  responsible for each                                                               
student's development.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY surmised that  the provisions included in                                                               
the legislation outside  the scope of retention  could suffice if                                                               
the  intention   is  to  have  a   conversation  about  students                                                                
progress.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. ELEDGE deferred to the commissioner.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:53:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK asked  what research  suggests for  children                                                               
who struggle with the alphabet and colors.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. ELEDGE offered her belief that  if a child has those gaps, he                                                               
or she will not learn to read  without filling them.  She said in                                                               
her experience,  children will  catch up  quickly if  an educator                                                               
works with them.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:55:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB GRIFFIN, Alaska Policy Forum,  said he is speaking in support                                                               
of  HB   153,  adding  that   there  is  urgent  need   for  this                                                               
legislation.   He discussed Alaska's low-ranking  test scores and                                                               
acknowledged the need to  promote students' literacy proficiency.                                                               
He  opined  that to  get  Alaska's  K-12  system back  on  track,                                                               
adopting the  reading policy  in this  bill is  a necessity.   He                                                               
noted that  the reading component in  HB 153 has been  tested and                                                               
proven by some of the highest [ranked] schools in the nation.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:59:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KERRIE SPAIN,  Bright Lights Learning  Center, said  she strongly                                                               
opposes HB 153.  She  posited that despite the proposed preschool                                                               
program  being   voluntary,  parents  would  opt   for  the  more                                                               
affordable  option, consequently  raising the  cost of  childcare                                                               
services  for infants  and  toddlers.   She  questioned what  the                                                               
student-to-teacher ratio would look like  in the bills  preschool                                                               
component.   She  maintained that  HB 153  would not  provide the                                                               
same small  class sizes that  private daycare  services currently                                                               
offer.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:02:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KARIN HALPIN,  Principal, Rocky Mountain School,  stated that she                                                               
strongly  supports  HB 153.    She  encouraged the  committee  to                                                               
consider adding  a mandatory kindergarten requirement  in Alaska,                                                               
as educators  currently have no leverage  with chronically absent                                                               
kindergarten students.  She applauded  the state for investing in                                                               
early  childhood education.   She  suggested  replacing the  term                                                               
"phonemic awareness" with  "phonological awareness," to encompass                                                               
all  the   steps  included   in  acquiring   phonemic  awareness.                                                               
Additionally,  she  questioned  how  small  rural  schools  could                                                               
provide  interventions outside  of  the school  day with  limited                                                               
staffing capabilities.   Regarding retention, she  opined that it                                                               
has  a  negative effect  on  student  learning and  consequently,                                                               
encouraged  the  state  to  contemplate its  use.    Lastly,  she                                                               
recommended using the word "literacy."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:05:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  questioned whether retention has  a negative                                                               
impact on students of all ages, including those in grades K-3.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALPIN remarked:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Sometimes we have kindergarten  children that come into                                                                    
     school  that are  not  developmentally  ready. ...  So,                                                                    
     what's going to  change for that child if he  or she is                                                                    
     repeating  a grade  level.   Is the  child getting  the                                                                    
     same  thing,  or  will  things  be  tweaked  to  better                                                                    
       support that child; and if things are going to be                                                                        
     tweaked, can that be done in the next grade.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:07:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RONDA  SCHLUMBOHM,  Teacher,  Salcha Elementary,  emphasized  the                                                               
complexity of  teaching children to  read.   She said there  is a                                                               
false  impression  that  giving  kids  "screeners"  and  progress                                                               
monitors  will  pinpoint the  exact  issue;  however, that's  not                                                               
necessarily  true,   as  screeners  measure  reading   rate,  not                                                               
fluency.   She  offered her  belief that  children struggling  to                                                               
read  need "all  hands  on  deck."   She  applauded  the idea  of                                                               
"adding additional  time for children with  extra reading outside                                                               
of the  core reading  program."   Additionally, she  said reading                                                               
instructors  in all  buildings  would be  ideal.   She  addressed                                                               
testimony from the  House Education Committee meeting  on March 9                                                               
and  contended   that  kindergarteners   should  be   working  on                                                               
vocabulary and  comprehension through  shared reading  with their                                                               
teacher.  Furthermore, she argued  that students in higher grades                                                               
would  also benefit  from reading  lessons because  they need  to                                                               
understand  argument  and   inference,  which  requires  explicit                                                               
teaching.   Lastly, she  recommended that  HB 153  should include                                                               
writing in addition to reading.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:10:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ASHLYN ANDERSON, Alaska Children's  Academy, opined that toddlers                                                               
would  not do  well  in  a school  setting  because they  require                                                               
constant  individual  support  and   care.    She  expressed  her                                                               
opposition to the bill.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:12:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY MARKS,  Tlingit and Haida  Community Council, said  she felt                                                               
conflicted  by  HB  153  because  a  majority  of  Alaska  Native                                                               
students perform below state academic  standards.  She emphasized                                                               
the  importance  of  utilizing   the  Alaska  Native  performance                                                               
standard  in school  districts.    Additionally, she  recommended                                                               
collaborating with Alaska Native  tribes and granting them access                                                               
to the resources provided in this bill.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:16:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  questioned whether  tribes are  eligible for                                                               
the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARKS  said there is  collaboration with the  TANF [Temporary                                                               
Assistance  for  Needy  Families]  program  through  the  Central                                                               
Council  of  Tlingit  and Haida  Indian  Tribes,  which  provides                                                               
families  with   the  opportunity   to  earn  a   CDA  [Childhood                                                               
Development Associate] award.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:17:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked Ms. Marks  to follow up  with additional                                                               
information on Alaska Native Performance Standards.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:18:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MOLLY  CARVER,  Interim   Policy  Specialist,  Alaska  Children's                                                               
Trust, said  as the statewide  leader in the prevention  of child                                                               
abuse and  neglect, Alaska Children's  Trust is in support  of HB
153.   She  explained  that early  childhood  education has  been                                                               
shown  to reduce  several factors  that put  children at  risk of                                                               
experiencing abuse  and neglect.   She offered  her understanding                                                               
that  the  goal of  this  bill  is  to  invest early  and  insure                                                               
children are ready  to be contributing members  to the collective                                                               
success of  Alaska.   She commended HB  153 for  recognizing that                                                               
investing  early provides  the  best outcome.   Nonetheless,  she                                                               
pointed out  that children  arriving at school  must be  ready to                                                               
learn.   She added that if  a child arrives hungry,  homeless, or                                                               
without  health care,  his or  her  ability to  learn is  greatly                                                               
hindered.  She said it will  be important to remember the role of                                                               
social  determinants  on  a  child's ability  to  learn  as  this                                                               
legislation moves forward.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:19:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY KRETZSCHMAR,  Decoding Dyslexia Alaska, offered  her support                                                               
for  HB  153.    She   emphasized  the  importance  of  a  strong                                                               
comprehensive statewide  reading policy that  uses evidence-based                                                               
instruction  strategies.    She  noted that  the  five  essential                                                               
components  of  reading  instruction,  or  "the  big  five,"  are                                                               
currently  included  in  Alaska's  English  Language  Arts  (ELA)                                                               
standards; however,  she surmised  that school districts  are not                                                               
utilizing the  adopted standards.   She  reasoned that  if school                                                               
districts   were   practicing  evidence-based   and   universally                                                               
designed reading instruction it  would benefit all students, even                                                               
those  that struggle  with learning  disabilities.   She remarked                                                               
that learning  to read is  a fundamental expectation  of Alaska's                                                               
education system, adding  that there is no excuse  for failing to                                                               
teach  all  children  to  read.    She  opined  that  reading  is                                                               
fundamental and  should be a priority  in how the state  uses its                                                               
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:24:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH PICHLER offered his support for  HB 153.  He advocated for                                                               
implementing one-on-one reading instruction in schools.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:26:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LEIGH  SLOAN expressed  her  support  for implementing  retention                                                               
with  intervention.   She  offered her  belief  that age  doesn't                                                               
necessarily correspond  to ability; therefore, she  reasoned that                                                               
children should  be placed  "at their level."   She  continued to                                                               
explain  that   the  purpose  of  assessments   is  to  influence                                                               
teachers'  behavior and  to  hold  school districts  accountable.                                                               
She  opined that  action should  be taken  to benefit  struggling                                                               
learners.  She offered her support for HB 153.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:27:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY   MARCUM,  Executive   Director,  Alaska   Policy  Forum,                                                               
reported  that   research  by  the  Alaska   Policy  Forum  found                                                               
statistics for  literacy among Alaska's children  to be "dismal;"                                                               
further,  that  Alaska's  K-12 education  system  has  the  worst                                                               
student outcome in  the nation.  She added  that Alaskan students                                                               
have been ranked in the bottom  10 states in fourth grade reading                                                               
since  scores were  first published  for all  50 states  in 2003.                                                               
Nonetheless,  she indicated  that  proven  solutions exist;  most                                                               
notably, the implementation of  comprehensive reading reform with                                                               
performance-based  promotion.   She  said  the  most current  and                                                               
rigorous  academic studies  of  performance-based promotion  show                                                               
the most  effective accountability measure is  to direct required                                                               
interventions at students who struggle  with reading; however, if                                                               
those  interventions  and  resources  fail to  help  the  student                                                               
attain  grade  level  proficiency  by the  end  of  grade  three,                                                               
repeating grade three is required  with the addition of targeted,                                                               
focused   attention.     She   asserted   that  implanting   high                                                               
expectations  and the  right tools  would make  success possible.                                                               
She  stated that  there is  no better  return on  investment than                                                               
making a difference in the lives of Alaska's children.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:30:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICKI  CAMPBELL   recounted  her  personal   experience  teaching                                                               
children to  read using  a similar methodology  to that  which is                                                               
proposed  under HB  153.   She offered  her belief  that teachers                                                               
have not  been properly trained  to implement the  five essential                                                               
components in  their reading instruction.   She advocated against                                                               
a  "hard-stop   retention,"  adding   that  the   bills   current                                                               
retention  component is  adequate.   She said  she is  opposed to                                                               
holding  a  student back  unless  they  received quality  reading                                                               
instruction in grades one through three.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:33:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LONDA CASQUEIRA, shared  her "strong" opposition to HB  153.  She                                                               
offered her belief that it  would create difficulties for daycare                                                               
services.     She   opined   that   daycares  currently   provide                                                               
satisfactory  reading instruction  and  placing  children into  a                                                               
school environment prematurely would  be inopportune.  She shared                                                               
several  personal anecdotes.   She  asserted that  "there is  too                                                               
much government interference."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:37:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA  HIMSCHOOT  acknowledged  the importance  of  maintaining                                                               
daycare services  across Alaska.  She  suggested capitalizing the                                                               
service  that   daycares  offer   by  subsequently   providing  a                                                               
continuous  system of  education in  which the  students enter  a                                                               
high-quality  preschool  program  where  they  learn  tools  that                                                               
improve  their   disposition  to  learning.     She  related  her                                                               
experience working with English  language learners and emphasized                                                               
that a quality daycare is  essential; however, many cannot afford                                                               
preschool.    She  said  providing  them with  the  option  of  a                                                               
publicly available preschool would  bolster the continuous system                                                               
of education that  would work for every child in  the state.  She                                                               
opined  that   the  NAEP  [National  Assessment   of  Educational                                                               
Progress] should  not be used  to measure  the success of  HB 153                                                               
because  its  assessment is  broad.    She applauded  the  bill's                                                               
inclusion of  culturally responsive education and  encouraged the                                                               
committee to  consider doing  more with  it in  this legislation.                                                               
She  addressed  Alaska  Native  students  and  said  through  the                                                               
process  of colonization  their languages  were taken  from them.                                                               
She  pointed out  that Alaska  Native students  have not  had the                                                               
same exposure  and opportunity to  learn as other children.   She                                                               
added that by lacking first  language fluency, they are less able                                                               
to  build second  language fluency  in English.   She  encouraged                                                               
employing  English  language   specialists  that  are  culturally                                                               
appropriate  and  understand  the specifics  surrounding  English                                                               
language learners who are not  immigrants.  She indicated that HB
153 could  explore English language  learning from  an indigenous                                                               
perspective.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:43:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM  BROWN  said  he   strongly  opposes  the  pre-elementary                                                               
component  of  HB  153.    He  shared  a  personal  anecdote  and                                                               
indicated  that  the student-to-teacher  ratio  is  too large  in                                                               
Alaska.    He  applauded  the   caliber  of  early  educators  in                                                               
Anchorage's  daycare programs.    He expressed  concern that  the                                                               
early education component  of HB 153 would be  funded by property                                                               
taxes  and PFD  cuts; further,  that the  bill would  put daycare                                                               
employees  out of  work.   He  maintained  that this  legislation                                                               
would not improve children's literacy proficiency.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:48:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRITTANI CLANCEY  related her experience working  with struggling                                                               
readers  in her  children's school.   She  pointed out  that when                                                               
these  students  pass  to  the  next  grade  level,  expectations                                                               
increase and  their chances of succeeding  at reading diminishes.                                                               
She opined that  the education system is doing  them a disservice                                                               
when that happens.   She noted that 60 percent  of fourth graders                                                               
in Alaska  are not reading at  grade level, which in  addition to                                                               
the state's test  scores, have caused her  to consider relocating                                                               
her family  somewhere with a  better school system.   She offered                                                               
her support for the "firm" reading policy in HB 153.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:51:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TERRI  WALKER, Superintendent,  Northwest  Arctic Borough  School                                                               
District, stated her support for  HB 153; however, she noted that                                                               
parts  of the  bill  would strain  the  Northwest Arctic  Borough                                                               
School  District  (NWABSD)  staff.   She  explained  that  NWABSD                                                               
doesn't  have the  same  resources as  schools  located in  urban                                                               
areas, such as additional  staffing, specialists, libraries, Head                                                               
Start programs, or daycare.   Nonetheless, she said NWABSD runs a                                                               
pre-K program  with certified teachers  because the  school board                                                               
is a strong supporter of early  childhood education.  She said HB
153  would  help  fund  their  pre-K  program;  furthermore,  she                                                               
offered support for the professional  development included in the                                                               
bill.   She recommended removing  the bill's  retention component                                                               
and discouraged the extensive reporting requirements.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:56:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked if NWABSD has  chronic attendance issues                                                               
in its  kindergarten classes.   She asked if the  age requirement                                                               
for kindergarten should be lowered.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WALKER said  pre-K  attendance  is at  70-80  percent.   She                                                               
acknowledged  that encouraging  the  younger  students to  attend                                                               
school is  difficult in  her community  and agreed  with lowering                                                               
the age requirement.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:58:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LISA  VILLANO, Alaska  Council  for  Exceptional Children,  noted                                                               
that Alaska Council for  Exceptional Children (AKCEC) appreciates                                                               
and  supports   the  legislature's   efforts  to   support  early                                                               
childhood education,  reading instruction and intervention.   She                                                               
expressed "cautious  support" for HB  153, with the  exception of                                                               
several concerns.  Firstly, she  expressed concern about the lack                                                               
of cultural  relevancy provisions  for students in  rural Alaska;                                                               
secondly, the prescriptive  nature of the bill    specifically in                                                               
the reading intervention  program.  The third  concern, she said,                                                               
is that the proposed retention  factor could lead to larger class                                                               
sizes, thus  leading to larger  case loads for  special education                                                               
teachers.   She  noted that  according to  information on  DEED's                                                               
website,  approximately 19,500  students  in  Alaska are  already                                                               
receiving special  education services.  Furthermore,  she pointed                                                               
out  that Alaska  Native students  and students  of color  are at                                                               
disproportionally   higher  risk   for   retention  and   special                                                               
education referral.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:03:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  WAISANEN  commended  the  proposed  funding  for  early                                                               
education  and  reading.    She provided  a  description  of  her                                                               
educational background  and work  experience, including  a three-                                                               
year masters of  education in the acquisition  of language, later                                                               
adding   that    she   is    nationally   board    certified   in                                                               
reading/language arts  and spent  over $25,000  to attend  a five                                                               
summer  reading and  writing  institute  at Columbia  University.                                                               
She directed  attention to page  3, line  12 of the  Alaska Reads                                                               
Act,  and cautioned  the  exclusive use  of  in-service days  for                                                               
reading instruction.  She said  in-service days are "precious" to                                                               
the Anchorage School District (ASD)  and currently being used for                                                               
six  professional  development days.    She  opined that  reading                                                               
needs  to be  taught in  context.   Furthermore, she  stated that                                                               
children  should  be taught  how  to  create, build,  work,  have                                                               
quality  conversations with  peers, and  problem solve  to create                                                               
innovators.    She turned  attention  to  page 17  and  expressed                                                               
concern about the proposed assessment  method.  She cautioned the                                                               
use of Chromebooks  for assessments, explaining that  many of her                                                               
students don't  know how to  use them.   Lastly, she  stated that                                                               
teachers require support and time,  adding that a balance between                                                               
assessment and instruction is necessary.   She offered her strong                                                               
support for HB 153.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:10:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LESA MEATH,  said she is generally  in favor of HB  153; however,                                                               
she  was disappointed  that the  critical literacy  components of                                                               
writing,  speaking, and  listening are  not included.   She  said                                                               
research  regarding  the  long-term   positive  impact  of  early                                                               
education is well  established.  She related her  support for the                                                               
voluntary   pre-K  component   of  HB   153;  also,   the  robust                                                               
professional  development, balanced  reading initiative,  and the                                                               
retention and  recruitment of educators.   She  expressed concern                                                               
about     prescriptive    programs,     assessments,    reporting                                                               
requirements,  and  the  language   regarding  the  retention  of                                                               
underperforming  students.   She noted  that many  of the  lowest                                                               
performing  students  have  the  greatest  social  and  emotional                                                               
needs;  consequently, she  asked  the committee  to consider  how                                                               
retention would impact  them and what further  obstacles it could                                                               
create.   She emphasized  the importance  of "student  choice and                                                               
voice,"  adding that  curriculums require  careful evaluation  to                                                               
ensure they are developmentally  and culturally appropriate.  She                                                               
suggested     designing      professional     development     for                                                               
paraprofessionals, because  in rural Alaska, these  are the long-                                                               
term educators that are invested in the communities.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:16:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ABBE HENSLEY, Best Beginnings, opined  that it's time for Alaskan                                                               
families  to  have greater  choices  and  access to  high-quality                                                               
preschool  programs.   She said  it makes  sense to  connect that                                                               
opportunity  with a  statewide  commitment  that ensures  reading                                                               
proficiency by  the end of grade  three.  She addressed  a detail                                                               
in the bill  that changes the cut-off date  for kindergarten from                                                               
September  1 to  June 1.   That  change, she  said, would  affect                                                               
2,500  children that  turn five  between  June 1  and August  31,                                                               
making them  ineligible for  school that year.   She  offered her                                                               
belief  that  the  change   was  well-intentioned;  however,  she                                                               
insisted that it  would take more than changing a  date to ensure                                                               
more  children are  prepared for  the challenges  of kindergarten                                                               
and learning to read.   Referencing a publication by the National                                                               
Governors  Association  entitled,  "Governor's  Pocket  Guide  to                                                               
Early Literacy,"  she encouraged the  state to focus  on children                                                               
ages  0-5  and  "invest  in   programs  that  increase  families'                                                               
capacity  to   build  their  children's  language   and  literacy                                                               
skills."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:21:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATIE BOTZ acknowledged  that the Alaska Reads  Act is important;                                                               
however, she  expressed her frustration with  the school closures                                                               
resulting from COVID-19.   Consequently, she said as  much as she                                                               
would like to  support HB 153, she does not.   She indicated that                                                               
children would  not learn  how to  read if they  are kept  out of                                                               
school for the  rest of 2020.  She urged  the committee to reopen                                                               
Alaska's schools.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:24:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STACY FOSHEE expressed concern with  the retention language in HB
153 and urged the committee to  consider removing it.  She stated                                                               
that retention  is not  instruction and  offered her  belief that                                                               
there should be additional opportunities  for teachers' voices to                                                               
be included  in the bill.   She opined that HB  153 would stretch                                                               
the  already thin  resources  in rural  schools.   She  suggested                                                               
employing  the  research-based  program, ReadyRosie,  which  uses                                                               
video  modeling  to  create  partnerships  between  families  and                                                               
educators.    Referencing  specific  language in  the  bill,  she                                                               
questioned how the department  would exercise general supervision                                                               
over  public  schools and  asked  the  committee to  revise  this                                                               
statement.   She  asked  why  Section 14  mentions  a school  bus                                                               
training course.   Furthermore, she emphasized  the importance of                                                               
ensuring  that  textbooks  are culturally  relevant  to  Alaska's                                                               
diverse population.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:28:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE  BERGLUND,  Chief  Executive  Officer,  Thread  Alaska,                                                               
stated  that Thread  strongly  supports  expanding quality  early                                                               
childhood education  services, including  pre-K.  She  added that                                                               
decades  of research  demonstrate that  pre-K makes  a short-term                                                               
difference  in children's  readiness  for school,  as  well as  a                                                               
long-term difference in students'  ability to gain employment and                                                               
contribute to  the economy.   In Alaska, she said,  current pre-K                                                               
services  are  working.   She  opined  that expanding  the  early                                                               
childhood  education through  HB  153 would  continue to  promote                                                               
school  readiness and  identify and  provide support  to children                                                               
who need it most.   Additionally, she argued that expanding pre-K                                                               
would provide  families with more choices  by creating affordable                                                               
and more  accessible opportunities  for children  to learn.   She                                                               
addressed  one  element of  the  bill  that  she said  would  not                                                               
support family choice: the earlier  cut-off date for school start                                                               
eligibility.  She expressed concern  that changing the date would                                                               
increase demand  for an already  fragile and  expensive childcare                                                               
system.    Instead, she  encouraged  the  committee to  keep  the                                                               
existing  school age  cut-off date  intact and  to deliver  pre-K                                                               
childcare   services  by   implementing  a   collaborative  mixed                                                               
delivery system,  which provides continuity of  care for full-day                                                               
and full-year services that working  families want and need.  She                                                               
noted that  Alaska's quality recognition and  improvement system,                                                               
Learn  and Grow,  provides framework  for activities  and can  be                                                               
used for  all early childhood education  programs, including pre-                                                               
K.   Regarding the  prevalent concern  that offering  pre-K could                                                               
affect the  childcare market, she reported  that 100,000 children                                                               
are in  need of early  childhood education, while there  are less                                                               
than  25,0000  licensed  and regulated  spaces  available.    She                                                               
indicated that Alaska is only  serving one-quarter of the kids in                                                               
need of  care services.   She explained that often,  the neediest                                                               
children and their  families do not utilize  the existing private                                                               
childcare  market  due  to  lack   of  affordable  access.    She                                                               
reiterated  that expanding  quality pre-K  options would  support                                                               
more  families while  continuing  the supply  and  demand of  the                                                               
childcare sector.   She maintained that  quality early education,                                                               
including   pre-K,   must   be    part   of   Alaska's   economic                                                               
infrastructure  as a  means  of creating  a  strong and  prepared                                                               
workforce.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:33:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JODI TAYLOR shared a personal  anecdote and related that by grade                                                               
three, a child's  ability to read correlates  with the likelihood                                                               
that he or  she will attend college or have  a successful career.                                                               
She  opined  that  HB  153  holds both  the  state  and  Alaska's                                                               
students  accountable for  becoming  literate  and developing  to                                                               
their full potential.  She urged the committee to pass HB 153.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:35:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PEGGY  COWAN expressed  support for  universal preschool  and the                                                               
intent of the bill's reading  component.  Nonetheless, she opined                                                               
that  the  bill  should  be  modified  to  change  the  retention                                                               
provisions and  reflect different  school district's needs.   She                                                               
explained that  some schools will need  infrastructure and others                                                               
will need  teacher housing and  qualified staff.   She encouraged                                                               
the support  of reading and  professional development  across the                                                               
state  and  asked the  committee  to  consider the  diversity  of                                                               
Alaska's districts and to modify the bill accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:38:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  clarified that HB  153 does not  ask districts                                                               
to  retain students.   She  explained that  retention is  a local                                                               
control  issue and  therefore, retention  policy is  set by  each                                                               
district.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:39:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK acknowledged  the prevalent concern regarding                                                               
keeping local daycare centers operational  and vibrant.  He noted                                                               
that the intent of this legislation  is not to eliminate the need                                                               
for  those   daycare  facilities,   especially  those   that  are                                                               
educating  children.   He encouraged  daycare  centers and  early                                                               
childhood  education programs  to  take advantage  of Parents  as                                                               
Teachers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND pointed out that  there are 100,000 kids in the                                                               
state of Alaska that need  care and only 25,0000 childcare spaces                                                               
available.  She said HB 153 is not a threat to daycare services.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:41:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  opined that  if the  state is  subsidizing a                                                               
daycare  service,   the  nonsubsidized   programs  will   have  a                                                               
difficult time competing.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND clarified  that preschool is not  daycare.  She                                                               
explained that families  have need of daycare in  order to return                                                               
to work, adding that its  an  economic issue.  She said providing                                                               
more  preschool spaces  would  help make  spaces  in the  daycare                                                               
market  available.   She  encouraged  the  childcare industry  to                                                               
convene with Stephanie Berglund of Thread Alaska.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:44:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that HB 153 was held over.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:44:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.                                                                 

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