Legislature(2011 - 2012)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/28/2012 04:00 PM FINANCE


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04:05:55 PM Start
04:07:11 PM HJR16
07:26:49 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
+= HJR 16 CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Testifiers must sign in by 7:00 p.m.
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Meeting will break between 6:00-6:30 p.m.**
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     February 28, 2012                                                                                          
                         4:05 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:05:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 4:05 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Bill Thomas Jr., Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Anna Fairclough, Vice-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Doogan                                                                                                      
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Neil  Denny, Kenai  Peninsula School  District, Kenai;  John                                                                    
Alcantra,   National   Education  Association-Alaska   (NEA-                                                                    
Alaska),   Mat-Su;  Mari   Torgerson,  Fairbanks   Northstar                                                                    
Borough  School District,  Fairbanks;  Bishop Edward  Burns,                                                                    
Diocese  of Juneau  and  Southeast  Alaska, Juneau;  Valerie                                                                    
Kneffel,  Teacher,  Bethel;  Reverend Pat  Travers,  Priest,                                                                    
Catholic  Diocese   of  Juneau;  Bruce   Johnson,  Executive                                                                    
Director, Alaska  Council of School  Administrators, Juneau;                                                                    
Mukhya  Khalsa,  Self,  Juneau; Representative  Wes  Keller,                                                                    
Sponsor; Representative Alan Austerman.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Tom  Fink,  Self,  Anchorage;  Debbie  Joslin,  Self,  Delta                                                                    
Junction;  Bob Griffin,  Self, Eagle  River; Amy  Robertson,                                                                    
Self, Anchorage;  Allison Smith, Self,  Anchorage; Katherine                                                                    
Hicks,  Self,  Anchorage;   David  Boyle,  Self,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Bethany  Marcum, Self,  Anchorage;  Duane Moran,  President,                                                                    
Anchorage  Council  of  Education  Alaska  Public  Employees                                                                    
Association, Anchorage; Allen  Hippler, Self, Anchorage; Lon                                                                    
Garrison,  President, Association  of Alaska  School Boards,                                                                    
Sitka;  LeDawn  Druce,  President,  Kenai  Public  Education                                                                    
Association,  Soldotna; Erick  Cordero, Self,  Mat-Su; Sarah                                                                    
Welton,  Palmer Church  of  the  Covenant, Professor  Mat-Su                                                                    
College,  Mat-Su;  James  Johnson, Self,  Soldotna;  William                                                                    
Stannell, Self,  Anchorage; Joshua Decker,  Self, Anchorage;                                                                    
Pete  Hoepfner,  President,  Cordova Schools  Board  Member;                                                                    
Geneva  Columbus,  Self,   Anchorage;  Jill  Showman,  MSEA,                                                                    
Wasilla;  Nate Davis,  Self, Anchorage;  Anand Dubey,  Self,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Rose  Nelson,  Self, Anchorage;  Karen  McGahan,                                                                    
Self,  Nikiski; Dr.  Jess  Ellis,  Self, Anchorage;  Eulalia                                                                    
Bunn, Self, Anchorage; Tony  Jackson, Self, Nikiski; Marilyn                                                                    
Davidson, Assistant Superintendent,  Kodiak School District;                                                                    
Matthew   Larkin,  Self,   Anchorage;  Glen   Biegel,  Self,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Richard Koller,  Self,  Anchorage; Tammy  Smith,                                                                    
President,  Fairbanks Education  Association; Matt  Johnson,                                                                    
Self, Chugiak.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR 16    CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          HJR 16 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 16                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State                                                                      
     of Alaska relating to state aid for education.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:07:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   remarked  that   he  would   invite  the                                                                    
testifiers from the previous meeting to speak first.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM  FINK, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), testified                                                                    
in support  of HJR  16. He stressed  that the  amendment was                                                                    
critical  to broadening  education opportunities  across the                                                                    
state. He  stressed that thirteen states  had passed similar                                                                    
amendments  in  the prior  year.  He  felt that  competitive                                                                    
systems  were  better  than  monopolies.  He  stressed  that                                                                    
children  had  a  free education  if  they  attended  public                                                                    
schools.  He  remarked that  parents  should  be allowed  to                                                                    
choose the  right school for  their children, and  the money                                                                    
should  be made  available.  He pointed  out that  education                                                                    
budgets had not  been reduced in the states  that had passed                                                                    
similar legislation.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:12:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  queried the  source of the  poll that                                                                    
stated that  64 percent of  parents preferred to  send their                                                                    
children to private school.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   stated  that   the  question   would  be                                                                    
addressed later.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:14:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEBBIE  JOSLIN, SELF,  DELTA JUNCTION  (via teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of  HJR 16.  She  explained that  her                                                                    
children  were home  schooled and  she  received no  funding                                                                    
from  the  state.  She explained  that  she  used  Christian                                                                    
curriculum to teach her children.  She remarked that her son                                                                    
was excelling  in college, and  her daughter had  received a                                                                    
scholarship. She  stressed that  her children were  given an                                                                    
education  with a  Christian  curriculum  and believed  they                                                                    
were socially adjusted and received good grades.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:17:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NEIL   DENNY,  KENAI   PENINSULA  SCHOOL   DISTRICT,  KENAI,                                                                    
testified against HJR  16. He explained that  he worked with                                                                    
the  Connections   Program  to  packet  programs   for  home                                                                    
schooling. He felt  that the home schools  were not required                                                                    
to  meet  the  same  standards as  the  public  schools.  He                                                                    
explained  that the  Connections  Program had  a 48  percent                                                                    
graduation rate.  He felt that  there was  no accountability                                                                    
in the home school programs.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:22:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson stressed that  over half of the public                                                                    
schools  in  Alaska did  not  meet  the AYP  [Annual  Yearly                                                                    
Progress]  standards. Mr.  Denny responded  that there  were                                                                    
975  students enrolled  in the  Connections and  home school                                                                    
programs. The  students rotated from  the private  system to                                                                    
public system  and were a  severe drain on AYP  because they                                                                    
were well  below grade  level. He noted  that for  the first                                                                    
year the  Kenai Peninsula School  District had not  met AYP.                                                                    
He opined that any schools would meet AYP in 2014.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  pointed  out   that  it  was  not  a                                                                    
competition  between home  schools and  public schools.  The                                                                    
bill was about offering voters  the choice to decide whether                                                                    
it was  time for  an amendment  to the  Alaska Constitution.                                                                    
She acknowledged  a slight sensitivity  on the issue  as she                                                                    
had home schooled her children.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative    Doogan    wondered   what    AYP    meant.                                                                    
Representative  Wilson replied  that  AYP  stood for  Annual                                                                    
Yearly Progress.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:25:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN ALCANTRA,  NATIONAL EDUCATION  ASSOCIATION-ALASKA (NEA-                                                                    
ALASKA), MAT-SU, testified against HJR  16. He felt that his                                                                    
children  had many  options for  education in  the Matanuska                                                                    
Susitna  Valley.  He  stressed  that  NEA-Alaska  "fiercely"                                                                    
opposed HJR 16.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:29:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARI   TORGERSON,   FAIRBANKS   NORTHSTAR   BOROUGH   SCHOOL                                                                    
DISTRICT,  FAIRBANKS, spoke  in  opposition to  HJR 16.  She                                                                    
explained that  she had four children  and taught elementary                                                                    
school  for many  years.  She relayed  that  she took  great                                                                    
pride in Alaskan children. She  stressed that public schools                                                                    
provided  highly qualified  teachers, which  may not  be the                                                                    
case in  the schools that accept  vouchers. She communicated                                                                    
that most private schools did  not require their teachers to                                                                    
be licensed. She commented that  there was a small sector of                                                                    
school  (typically special  education  sections of  schools)                                                                    
that  was not  meeting AYP  requirements. She  stressed that                                                                    
the home schooled students should  be tested in the same way                                                                    
that  public  school  students   were.  She  felt  that  the                                                                    
resolution  might  promote   segregation.  She  feared  that                                                                    
vouchers would "lower the bar."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:33:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BISHOP  EDWARD  BURNS,  DIOCESE   OF  JUNEAU  AND  SOUTHEAST                                                                    
ALASKA, JUNEAU,  vocalized support  for HJR 16.  He stressed                                                                    
that he was not testifying to  judge any group. He felt that                                                                    
parents should be given a  choice in how their children were                                                                    
educated. He  stressed that  there was  a desire  to provide                                                                    
what the  parents felt was  best for their own  children. He                                                                    
believed that education options  were only provided to those                                                                    
who could afford it financially.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:37:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  stated that  he was a  Roman Catholic                                                                    
and that his  parents had paid for  his religious education.                                                                    
He stressed  that parents should be  financially responsible                                                                    
if  they  wanted  their  children  to  receive  a  religious                                                                    
education; he explained that was  the difference between the                                                                    
parochial schools and the public education system.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Bishop  Burns  agreed   that  religious  education  required                                                                    
sacrifice. He  stressed that some  parents were not  able to                                                                    
provide a religious education because  they could not afford                                                                    
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Doogan   stressed    that   Bishop   Burns'                                                                    
perspective was unconvincing.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  remarked that  others would  be commenting                                                                    
on  that  same  topic.  Bishop Burns  replied  that  parents                                                                    
should   be  allowed   the  opportunity   to  choose   their                                                                    
children's education.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:42:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB  GRIFFIN,   SELF,  EAGLE  RIVER   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in favor  of HJR 16. He stressed  that many school                                                                    
choices  were given  to upper  class parents.  He felt  that                                                                    
competition  was essential  in  every  system. He  explained                                                                    
that 38  states had  adopted similar resolutions  for school                                                                    
choice.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:47:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMY   ROBERTSON,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of HJR  16. She  stated that  she had                                                                    
children  who were  attending  private  schools and  charter                                                                    
schools. She stated  that her daughter was at  the bottom of                                                                    
the  waiting list  at a  charter  school and  was unable  to                                                                    
attend the school. She mentioned  that children with special                                                                    
needs would not be left  behind. She felt that the religious                                                                    
schools in  the state would  help special needs  students if                                                                    
the need  existed. She  explained that  she could  afford to                                                                    
send  her  children to  private  schools,  but some  parents                                                                    
could  not. She  shared  that her  daughter  had attended  a                                                                    
public  school and  she  felt that  the  school had  focused                                                                    
money in the wrong areas.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:51:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALLISON SMITH,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of HJR 16.  She stressed that parental choice was                                                                    
an  essential step  in solving  Alaska's education  problem.                                                                    
She felt that public schools  did not provide enough options                                                                    
for parents. She felt that  parents should be allowed access                                                                    
to the  classrooms. She believed there  were many statistics                                                                    
pointing  to the  failures of  public schools.  She stressed                                                                    
that competition  was essential  to boosting the  success of                                                                    
public schools.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:56:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHERINE  HICKS,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
voiced  support  for  the  legislation.  She  believed  that                                                                    
school  choice was  a fundamental  civil  right. She  opined                                                                    
that   many  ABC   schools  were   better  disciplined   and                                                                    
organized.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:58:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID   BOYLE,   SELF,   ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
supported the  bill. He told  a personal story  and believed                                                                    
the Alaskan school system was  broken. He opined that public                                                                    
schools  had  a monopoly  that  was  not responding  to  the                                                                    
customer  demand. He  noted  that  poorer students  suffered                                                                    
because  their families  could not  afford to  send them  to                                                                    
private schools. He stressed that  with school choice better                                                                    
schools will be formed.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:01:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY  MARCUM,   SELF,  ANCHORAGE   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
voiced her support  for the bill. She hoped  the question of                                                                    
school choice will  be on the ballot for the  people to vote                                                                    
on it. She expressed that the  role of legislature is not to                                                                    
do what they  think best, but what the people  want. She did                                                                    
not want to be denied the right to do what the people want.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:03:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DUANE  MORAN,  PRESIDENT,  ANCHORAGE  COUNCIL  OF  EDUCATION                                                                    
ALASKA   PUBLIC   EMPLOYEES  ASSOCIATION,   ANCHORAGE   (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified  against supporting the  bill. He                                                                    
indicated the  mixed results in  other state's  decisions to                                                                    
fund private  education. He emphasized that  private schools                                                                    
choose  the students  they want,  not the  parents. He  said                                                                    
that  logistics   and  transportation  is  a   challenge  in                                                                    
Anchorage with  the accompanying cost. He  acknowledged that                                                                    
there were choices for students  in Anchorage. He questioned                                                                    
the transparency and accountability for public funds.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:05:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALLEN   HIPPLER,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
supported the bill. He believed  that competition was needed                                                                    
with schools. He  believed that the people  of Alaska should                                                                    
determine if they  would be better served  by a modification                                                                    
to  the Alaska  Constitution in  allowing public  funding to                                                                    
private schools.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:06:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE  KNEFFEL,  TEACHER,  BETHEL, testified  against  the                                                                    
bill.  She voiced  her  concern on  how  the voucher  system                                                                    
would  work  in  rural  villages. She  mentioned  that  some                                                                    
classes only had five students  and wondered how the voucher                                                                    
system would  be offered  there. She  was also  concerned on                                                                    
how the  voucher system  would serve  the all  the students.                                                                    
She added that the voucher  system could leave some students                                                                    
behind. She  believed there  can be  situations in  the home                                                                    
that may not make it possible  for the parent to be the best                                                                    
teacher to  her children.  She wondered how  voucher schools                                                                    
will be held accountable.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:11:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REVEREND PAT  TRAVERS, PRIEST,  CATHOLIC DIOCESE  OF JUNEAU,                                                                    
testified  in support  of  the bill.  He  believed that  the                                                                    
voucher system  could keep those  that might  otherwise fall                                                                    
through the  cracks in public  education. He  signified that                                                                    
he did not  want the public schools to  wither. Many parents                                                                    
who might  want to send  their children to  catholic schools                                                                    
may  not be  able  to  afford it,  but  could  if there  was                                                                    
voucher money available.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:15:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LON  GARRISON,  PRESIDENT,   ASSOCIATION  OF  ALASKA  SCHOOL                                                                    
BOARDS,  SITKA (via  teleconference), testified  against the                                                                    
bill  for  himself and  read  a  statement from  Carl  Rose,                                                                    
Alaska  Association  of Alaska  School  Boards.  He did  not                                                                    
approve  of  public funds  going  to  private education.  He                                                                    
noted that  the voucher  system drains scare  resources from                                                                    
public classrooms. He  noted that taxes could  rise to cover                                                                    
the  voucher  system  in funding  both  private  and  public                                                                    
schools.  A  public education  is  free.  He suggested  that                                                                    
providing  all   Alaskans  with   a  voucher  for   fuel  or                                                                    
electrical  use would  be using  public wealth  to help  far                                                                    
more people.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:19:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LEDAWN    DRUCE,   PRESIDENT,    KENAI   PUBLIC    EDUCATION                                                                    
ASSOCIATION,   SOLDOTNA   (via  teleconference),   testified                                                                    
against  the  bill.  She stressed  that  public  schools  in                                                                    
Alaska are  not failing.  She believed that  comparison from                                                                    
test scores failures  does not work. The Kenai has  a lot of                                                                    
choices  that are  free and  within the  public system.  She                                                                    
disagreed with  the idea that  the public schools  need more                                                                    
competition.  She  believed  that the  argument  of  running                                                                    
schools like a business model does not work.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:23:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERICK  CORDERO, SELF,  MAT-SU  (via teleconference),  voiced                                                                    
his support  for the bill.  He believed in giving  parents a                                                                    
choice  on how  their  children are  educated. He  disclosed                                                                    
personal research  on voucher education choice  in countries                                                                    
like Chile, Sweden and New  Zealand. He believed there could                                                                    
be  an  Alaskan  way  that  works for  the  people.  He  was                                                                    
supportive of public education as well as private choices.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:25:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH WELTON, PALMER CHURCH OF  THE COVENANT, PROFESSOR MAT-                                                                    
SU COLLEGE,  MAT-SU (via teleconference),  testified against                                                                    
the  bill.  She did  not  believe  in mixing  religion  with                                                                    
public  funds. She  stressed this  was another  way to  fund                                                                    
religion.  She  pointed  out  sources  that  attest  to  the                                                                    
quality  of public  schools.  The use  of  public money  for                                                                    
private schools goes against her  religion on the separation                                                                    
of church and state. The funds  will be used to supplant the                                                                    
money private organizations already  have. She attested that                                                                    
resinous schools  will be promoting their  faith with public                                                                    
funds.  She  noted  that taking  away  dollars  from  public                                                                    
schools increases class size as resources are drained.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:29:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAMES   JOHNSON,   SELF,  SOLDOTNA   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in support of the  bill. He did not understand all                                                                    
the ramifications of the amendment.  He believed that public                                                                    
funds should  go wherever  the parent wants  them to  go. He                                                                    
did  not believe  the public  should  have to  pay twice  to                                                                    
educate their  children. He spoke  of using  allotment money                                                                    
in home schooling his own  children, but also used their own                                                                    
funds. He  indicated that competition is  what makes America                                                                    
great.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:34:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM  STANNELL,  SELF,  ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified against the bill. He  noted that there are already                                                                    
choices  available  for  students  in Alaska.  He  does  not                                                                    
expect the government to give  financial handouts to parents                                                                    
who  want  their  children  to go  to  private  schools.  He                                                                    
believed public schools are doing  well. He pointed out that                                                                    
parents seem  to be expecting handouts  from the government.                                                                    
He stressed that he did  not want the government involved in                                                                    
his  children's religious  education. There  are poorly  run                                                                    
private  and religious  schools asking  for money  under the                                                                    
banner  of school  choice because  they cannot  manage their                                                                    
own resources.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:37:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA   DECKER,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified against the  bill. He did not  believe that public                                                                    
money should  go to religious  schools. He  communicated his                                                                    
belief that  there could be  open discrimination  in private                                                                    
schools. The framers of the  Alaska Constitution assured the                                                                    
people  that  there  would  be  a  strong  public  education                                                                    
system, not a private education.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wilson  asked   where  his   children  were                                                                    
educated.  Mr.  Decker  responded   that  he  did  not  have                                                                    
children.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:43:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRUCE JOHNSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  ALASKA COUNCIL OF SCHOOL                                                                    
ADMINISTRATORS,  JUNEAU,  testified  against  the  bill.  He                                                                    
supported public  funded education  for all the  children of                                                                    
Alaska.  The ACSA  organization  fosters  choice within  the                                                                    
public  school setting  where access  and accountability  is                                                                    
available to  any family. He  respected family's  choices to                                                                    
choose a private education for  their children, however once                                                                    
a program accepts  public funds all schools must  be held to                                                                    
fair   and   non-discriminatory   admission   policies   and                                                                    
accountability  measures.  He  noted   that  there  must  be                                                                    
equitable  rules  for all  private  schools  if they  accept                                                                    
public funds.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:47:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MUKHYA  KHALSA, SELF,  JUNEAU, testified  against the  bill.                                                                    
She  made the  decision to  send her  children to  a private                                                                    
school, but  did not  expect the government  to pay  it. She                                                                    
did  not believe  public  funds  should go  to  pay for  her                                                                    
children's  religious  education.  She  was  concerned  that                                                                    
children who might  have special needs could  be left behind                                                                    
if  money leaves  the  public school  sector.  She was  also                                                                    
concerned  that some  private school  curriculums would  not                                                                    
meet  the needs  of children.  She  cited the  lack of  good                                                                    
science   education,  especially   in  some   fundamentalist                                                                    
Christian religious schools.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:50:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETE HOEPFNER, PRESIDENT, CORDOVA  SCHOOLS BOARD MEMBER (via                                                                    
teleconference),  spoke  in  opposition   of  the  bill.  He                                                                    
believed rewording the constitution  will not be fair. There                                                                    
can be  discrimination in admissions  and non-accountability                                                                    
in  their  standards.  He  noted  that  the  legislature  is                                                                    
demanding  accountability  in  public school  who  will  not                                                                    
receive any  funding if  they don't comply.  He did  not see                                                                    
these  accountability requirements  in  private schools.  He                                                                    
also noted that public schools must  have 10 to be a school,                                                                    
but there is no number limit for private schools.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:53:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan asked  Mayor  Tom  Fink of  Anchorage                                                                    
about  the source  that  indicated that  62  percent of  the                                                                    
population  approved  of  using  public  money  for  private                                                                    
schools.   Mayor   Fink   responded   that   Bron   Research                                                                    
interviewed 1006  people in September  2011. He  mentioned a                                                                    
website AKChoice.org  has the complete information.  He said                                                                    
that the percentage who approved was 64 percent.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:55:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GENEVA  COLUMBUS,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in support of the  bill. She believed there should                                                                    
be a general  vote by the population of Alaska  on the bill.                                                                    
She believed  that competition would  provide a jolt  to the                                                                    
education system.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:57:20 PM                                                                                                                    
RECESSED                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:30:34 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
6:30:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JILL SHOWMAN,  MSEA, WASILLA (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
opposition  of the  bill. She  believed the  language should                                                                    
reflect all of Alaska                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
6:31:45 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:33:15 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
6:33:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NATE DAVIS, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in   support   of   the    legislation.   He   stated   that                                                                    
accountability  was  an  important  issue  with  respect  to                                                                    
private schools and  said that the state  could address that                                                                    
aspect. He  offered that the  state was already  funding and                                                                    
promoting religious experiences  for children through school                                                                    
teachers'  opinions and  views,  interpretation of  literary                                                                    
documents,   interpretation   of    history,   and   private                                                                    
counseling.  He urged  the importance  of  giving parents  a                                                                    
choice  of where  and  how to  educated  their children  and                                                                    
stated that the only people  who currently could choose were                                                                    
people  with  money.  He  wondered   why  the  state  funded                                                                    
religious postsecondary  education, but  was hesitant  to do                                                                    
so  below grade  12;  under  the bill,  the  state would  be                                                                    
funding  all   religions  and  not  a   particular  one.  He                                                                    
indicated that  there was a  fear that public  schools would                                                                    
close as  a result of  the legislation, but stated  that the                                                                    
competitive  market   would  help  the  school   system.  He                                                                    
concluded  that  he  believed in  funding  with  no  strings                                                                    
attached, other than reasonable accountability standards.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:38:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANAND DUBEY, SELF, ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support of  the initiative  and stated that  he had  a three                                                                    
and a half year old  daughter, who was trilingual, attending                                                                    
a   Montessori  school.   He   asserted   that  choice   and                                                                    
competition  were what  had made  America great  and if  the                                                                    
bill was  not passed it  would only reinforce  a bureaucracy                                                                    
with no competition.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
6:40:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROSE   NELSON,   SELF,   ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
expressed  support for  the  bill and  stated  that she  had                                                                    
three children  attending charter schools in  Anchorage. She                                                                    
remarked that it had taken three  years on a waiting list to                                                                    
get her  son into the  charter school that he  was currently                                                                    
attending.  She declared  that  charter  schools provided  a                                                                    
better education; children who  attended them learned better                                                                    
and were more respectful. She  related a story about how the                                                                    
charter school  system was started  in Louisiana and  how it                                                                    
improved the education  in that state. She  stated that more                                                                    
of the  funding for education  needed to go directly  to the                                                                    
children and that less should go to the unions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
6:44:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KAREN MCGAHAN, SELF, NIKISKI  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
favor of  the resolution  and stated that  she had  put four                                                                    
children through private schools,  while paying taxes to the                                                                    
public  school system.  She noted  that throwing  more money                                                                    
into the  education system did  not mean a  better education                                                                    
and   concluded   that    the   legislation   would   create                                                                    
competition, which would result in better schools.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
6:46:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  stated that committee would  stand at ease                                                                    
for the next  15 minutes in order to see  if more testifiers                                                                    
signed at various  LIO's across the state.  He observed that                                                                    
the committee had publicly announced  that it would take new                                                                    
testimony until  7 p.m. and  declared that he would  like to                                                                    
honor that.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
6:46:40 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:55:43 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. JESS ELLIS, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support of the legislation  and related the importance of                                                                    
a good education.  He thought that bill  should pass because                                                                    
sometimes  the  best  education  available  was  offered  by                                                                    
church related  institutions; it  was unfair  to say  that a                                                                    
student  could   not  get  an   education  at   a  religious                                                                    
institution because it would be  a benefit to the church. He                                                                    
stated that  passing the legislation  was an  important step                                                                    
toward  getting   people  the  education  they   wanted  and                                                                    
stressed the  importance of the  right of parents  to choose                                                                    
the best  education for their  children. He added  that that                                                                    
the   resolution   would   greatly  benefit   the   minority                                                                    
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
7:01:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EULALIA   BUNN,   SELF,  ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
expressed her support of the  resolution and stated that she                                                                    
had  a  daughter  in  the charter  school  system.  She  was                                                                    
dissatisfied  with  the  options  available  in  the  public                                                                    
system  and was  shocked at  how difficult  and lengthy  the                                                                    
process was to get her  child into an alternative school. In                                                                    
conclusion, she shared  that there were a lot  of parents in                                                                    
the state that felt the same way.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
7:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONY JACKSON, SELF,  NIKISKI (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in  support of  the legislation  and related  that he  had a                                                                    
unique  perspective  because he  had  been  educated in  the                                                                    
public   school   system,   paid   for   his   own   private                                                                    
postsecondary education,  and had taught in  both the public                                                                    
and   private  schools   systems;   furthermore,  his   wife                                                                    
homeschooled their  own children. He strongly  believed that                                                                    
education  was  the  parent's responsibility  and  that  the                                                                    
legislation would  give parents  more control in  finding an                                                                    
education that best suited their own needs.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
7:05:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARILYN  DAVIDSON, ASSISTANT  SUPERINTENDENT, KODIAK  SCHOOL                                                                    
DISTRICT (via  teleconference), spoke  in opposition  to the                                                                    
bill  and  declared  that   her  education  experience  also                                                                    
encompassed  both private  and  public  schools. She  stated                                                                    
that   public   schools   had  been   built   around   equal                                                                    
opportunity, had high  standards, and were held  to the idea                                                                    
of equity.  Public schools were  for everyone and  could not                                                                    
serve specific  populations to the exclusion  of others. She                                                                    
stated  that a  teacher  could lose  their  license if  they                                                                    
taught a  personal point of  view or preferred  one ideology                                                                    
over  another.  She  spoke  about  the  high  accountability                                                                    
applied  to  the  public  schools  system  and  stated  that                                                                    
accountability was much lower  in private schools. She urged                                                                    
that if  the initiative  were passed, the  same requirements                                                                    
on  public  schools  would  have to  be  placed  on  private                                                                    
schools and concluded that the  bill would siphon money away                                                                    
from an already struggling public school system.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
7:09:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW LARKIN, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in favor  of the bill and  stated that he was  parent of two                                                                    
who wanted  the best  education for  his children.  He spoke                                                                    
about Anchorage's poor education  track record and expressed                                                                    
his  frustration  at  the  rigorous  process  involved  with                                                                    
getting children into alternative  schools. He believed that                                                                    
Alaskans would  overwhelmingly support the initiative  if it                                                                    
was brought before the voters.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
7:10:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GLEN BIEGEL, SELF, ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
favor of the  legislation and responded to  comments made by                                                                    
Marilyn  Davidson. He  refuted  the argument  that the  bill                                                                    
would  destroy public  schools and  would leave  people with                                                                    
disabilities or special needs  without options. He furthered                                                                    
that there  was no  scenario where  public schools  would go                                                                    
away.  He   also  refuted  the   idea  that   every  school,                                                                    
regardless its  type, should have  the "$75,000 or  so" that                                                                    
it took  to care for  a special  needs student; if  that was                                                                    
true, there was  no solution because not  every school could                                                                    
be  that  highly  specialized.  He  clarified  that  Marilyn                                                                    
Davidson's  suggestion that  every school  should mimic  the                                                                    
public school  was a "design  for failure." He  related that                                                                    
people  with money  were  able to  put  their children  into                                                                    
schools of choice, but that  poor children were the ones who                                                                    
were  left out  and forgotten.  He stated  having access  to                                                                    
choice in education had proven  effective in virtually every                                                                    
system it  was tried  in and  urged the  need for  access to                                                                    
schools  that reflected  your own  values.  He concluded  by                                                                    
saying  that no  amount of  competition would  eliminate the                                                                    
need for public schools.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
7:14:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara stated that  he appreciated Mr. Biegel's                                                                    
testimony,  but noted  that Ms.  Davidson did  not have  the                                                                    
chance to respond  to his comments; furthermore,  he did not                                                                    
believe that  Ms. Davidson's views were  fully or accurately                                                                    
reflected by the testimony of Mr. Biegel.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Biegel interjected  that Ms.  Davidson's primary  point                                                                    
did  not allow  people to  innovate. He  also did  not agree                                                                    
with her view  of the greater good. He stated  that he would                                                                    
like  to  have  a  debate  to  further  understand  why  Ms.                                                                    
Davidson  had   objections  to  having   different  services                                                                    
provided in different schools.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  clarified that  he certainly  wanted to                                                                    
hear public  testimony, but that  his point was  that "going                                                                    
after"  the comments  of previous  testifiers  was not  fair                                                                    
practice.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze acknowledged  that  there  had been  prior                                                                    
discussion between testifiers.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
7:17:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD KOLLER, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in favor of  the bill and stated he would  like to associate                                                                    
his  remarks with  the testimony  of Mr.  Biegel. He  stated                                                                    
that  he did  not  agree with  the  argument against  school                                                                    
choice  and  that  increased   competition  would  not  harm                                                                    
schools. He concluded that he  believed every Alaskan should                                                                    
have the  right to  choose where  they would  attend school,                                                                    
rather than being assigned to  an institution based on their                                                                    
zip code.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
7:19:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAMMY  SMITH,  PRESIDENT,  FAIRBANKS  EDUCATION  ASSOCIATION                                                                    
(via    teleconference),    expressed   the    Association's                                                                    
opposition to the  bill and stated that  public money should                                                                    
go to  public education.  She related  that people  had many                                                                    
opportunities to  receive a good education  and that private                                                                    
schools  were   exclusionary,  while  public   schools  were                                                                    
designed  for everyone.  She furthered  that parents  should                                                                    
have  a  choice,  but  that  public  allocations  should  go                                                                    
directly to public  education. She urged that  it would hurt                                                                    
the  public  school  system  to take  money  away  from  it;                                                                    
furthermore, as a  tax payer, she wanted public  money to go                                                                    
towards public  facilities. In conclusion, she  related that                                                                    
the bill would leave out  students from many different kinds                                                                    
of backgrounds.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
7:24:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATT JOHNSON,  SELF, CHUGIAK (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
strong   support  of   the  legislation   and  stated   that                                                                    
competition was good for everyone.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HJR  16  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
7:26:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze thanked  the testifiers, committee members,                                                                    
and Representative  Keller for their time  and discussed the                                                                    
agenda for the following meeting.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
7:26:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 7:26 PM.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                

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