Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

01/24/2019 03:30 PM EDUCATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:29:49 PM Start
03:30:38 PM Presentation: Status of Alaska's K-12 Education System
04:34:45 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: TELECONFERENCED
"Status of Alaska's K-12 Education System" by
Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson, Dept. of
Education & Early Development
-- Teleconference Listen Only --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        January 24, 2019                                                                                        
                           3:29 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Chris Birch                                                                                                             
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: STATUS OF ALASKA'S K-12 EDUCATION SYSTEM                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Ph.D., Commissioner                                                                                            
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented on Alaska's K-12 Education System.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:29:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS called the Senate Education Standing                                                                       
Committee meeting to order at 3:29 p.m. Present at the call to                                                                  
order were Senators Begich, Costello, Birch, and Chair Stevens.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
^Presentation: Status of Alaska's K-12 Education System                                                                         
     Presentation: Status of Alaska's K-12 Education System                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:30:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS   announced  the  presentation  by   Department  of                                                              
Education  and  Early  Development   (DEED)  Commissioner  Michael                                                              
Johnson: Status of Alaska's K-12 Education System.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:31:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JOHNSON,  Ph.D., Commissioner,  Department  of  Education                                                              
and Early  Development (DEED), Juneau,  Alaska, said he  wanted to                                                              
update the  committee on  DEED's work over  the interim.  First he                                                              
congratulated  Danielle  Riha,  the  2019 Alaska  Teacher  of  the                                                              
Year, for  being selected as  one of four  finalists for  the 2019                                                              
National  Teacher of  the Year.  She is  a teacher  at the  Alaska                                                              
Native  Cultural  Charter  School  in  Anchorage.  The  last  time                                                              
Alaska had a finalist  for National Teacher of the  Year was 1995.                                                              
He noted  that in 2018 Alaskan  Sherry Shaw of  Tanaina Elementary                                                              
School in  Wasilla was  named the  National Education  Association                                                              
Support Professional of the Year.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted  that  Danielle Rhia's  school  is  in  his                                                              
district  and he was  present when  she was  given the  award last                                                              
year in  front of  the students.  He is  thrilled about  her being                                                              
chosen as a finalist.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  started by  saying  he wanted  to  describe                                                              
what  happened  in  February  1956, a  few  days  before  Alaska's                                                              
constitutional  convention ended.  A delegate  expressed his  hope                                                              
of a pledge to Alaska's children.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:35:29 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease for technical reasons                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:43:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS reconvened the meeting.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  quoted the  delegate asking for  a committee                                                              
to draw  up a pledge  to Alaska's children  to be placed  in every                                                              
school room,  a pledge that says  they call upon the  children for                                                              
their cooperation  as they  move to  statehood, because  they will                                                              
be the future citizens.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  the  state constitution  starts  with,                                                              
"We the  people of  Alaska." This  is relevant  to discussing  any                                                              
education  policy, especially  any ideas  to reform the  education                                                              
system.  The constitution  states in  Article 7,  Section 1,  that                                                              
the legislature  shall establish and  maintain a system  of public                                                              
schools open to all children of the state.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   said  that  if   they  are  to   meet  the                                                              
educational  challenges in  Alaska,  it will  start  with "we  the                                                              
people of  Alaska." He noted  that civics education  and education                                                              
reform  go hand  in hand.  If  they want  reform,  they must  have                                                              
civics education.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  noted  that  although they  are  53  school                                                              
districts and  Mt. Edgecumbe  [High School],  they are  one state.                                                              
They must  have clarity that they  are one state system  as called                                                              
for  by the  Alaska constitution,  but  they are  also 53  locally                                                              
controlled school  districts. When  they talk about  the education                                                              
system,  "we  the people"  must  do  so  in  a way  that  supports                                                              
learning  first  and foremost  by  whatever means  necessary.  The                                                              
statewide  mission  and vision  for  education should  make  local                                                              
missions and  visions more possible,  not more difficult.  That is                                                              
the reality of local control in statewide system.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  most  of them  had  probably heard  of                                                              
Alaska's  Education Challenge,  which  they have  been working  on                                                              
for several year.  He described it as just a  question, an inquiry                                                              
for all Alaskans:  How will we meet the educational  challenges in                                                              
Alaska?                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:49:19 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  so many  people  want to  rush by  the                                                              
question, but  they should let the  question lead them.  By posing                                                              
the  question they  do two  things. One  is state  the truth.  The                                                              
fact  is they  have  challenges  in  their education  system.  And                                                              
secondly, they  offer hope  that they  can meet those  challenges.                                                              
Leaders  tell  the  truth  and offer  hope.  As  commissioner,  he                                                              
refuses to let this question go unasked.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  the mission  from the  State Board  of                                                              
Education is an  excellent education for every  student every day.                                                              
That is  their moral  imperative for education  in the  state. The                                                              
mission statement  is not just  a logo.  For far too  long, Alaska                                                              
has performed  too low  compared to other  states in  the country.                                                              
Because it has been  so long, they as leaders must  recognize that                                                              
some  may  have   become  numb,  passively  accepting   that  some                                                              
students in the  state aren't going to perform  well academically.                                                              
This  attitude impacts  their  conversations  and most  harmfully,                                                              
changes  expectations for  kids.  They must  state  over and  over                                                              
that they will  not be satisfied until an excellent  education and                                                              
educational  options  are  available  for  every  student  in  the                                                              
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:51:38 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  asked what does an excellent  education look                                                              
like.  The   legislature  beautifully   articulated  this   in  AS                                                              
14.03.015. State Education Policy:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     It  is  the  policy  of  this   state  that  the  purpose  of                                                              
     education is  to help ensure  that all students  will succeed                                                              
     in   their  education   and   work,   shape  worthwhile   and                                                              
     satisfying  lives for themselves,  exemplify the  best values                                                              
     of society,  and be effective in improving  the character and                                                              
     quality of the world about them.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said he  wanted  to review  this  statement                                                              
phrase by  phrase to take  the opportunity  to be reminded  of the                                                              
legislature's clarity in describing the purpose of education.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  that  is the  why, the  answer to  why                                                              
they invest  over a billion dollars  in the education  system. The                                                              
system must be purposeful and centered on kids.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   said  there   are  three  ways   they  are                                                              
answering  the   question  of  how  to  meet   Alaska's  education                                                              
challenge.  The most important  thing is  that they are  answering                                                              
the question together.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
   1. Public Commitments                                                                                                        
   2. Positive Trajectories                                                                                                     
   3. Prioritized Strategies                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said the public  commitments is the  "we the                                                              
people."  They invite  the public  into  this process  and say  to                                                              
them,  "How are you  going to  increase student  success?  How are                                                              
you going  to cultivate  safety and well-being?  How are  we going                                                              
to  support responsible  and  reflective  learners  so that  their                                                              
learning  does something?"  As they start  education reform,  they                                                              
will remember  that it starts with  "we the people."  Everyone has                                                              
to work together.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:55:02 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON   displayed  a   slide   of  the   positive                                                              
trajectories:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
   • All students read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade                                                                   
   • Increase career, technical, and culturally relevant                                                                        
     education to meet student and workforce needs                                                                              
   • Close the achievement gap by ensuring equitable educational                                                                
     rigor and resources                                                                                                        
   • Prepare,  attract,   and    retain   effective    education                                                                
     professionals                                                                                                              
   • Improve the safety & well-being of students through school                                                                 
     partnerships with families, communities and tribes                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  this  is where  work  happens to  make                                                              
this all a reality.  He call them positive trajectories.  He could                                                              
have used  the term  measurable goals,  but trajectory  implies an                                                              
upward  path, continuous  improvement  year  and  after year.  The                                                              
governor talked  about third grade  reading often on  the campaign                                                              
trail. Multiple  efforts around  this are  underway now.  There is                                                              
broad  consensus around  this  issue. A  reading  task force  took                                                              
place last  year. There  have been  bills on prekindergarten.  The                                                              
common element  in all proposals  is some kind of  screening. Most                                                              
districts  are  already  doing   this,  as  well  as  professional                                                              
development  on reading  instruction  and aggressive  intervention                                                              
if  students are  not reading  proficiently  by the  end of  third                                                              
grade.  If students  are not reading  proficiently  by the  end of                                                              
third  grade,  everything   for  them  after  that   becomes  more                                                              
difficult and more expensive for the system.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said students  who do not read  proficiently                                                              
by the end of  third grade are likely to drop  out of school. Many                                                              
prisoners  were  not reading  proficiently  at  the end  of  third                                                              
grade. There  is a  lot of  data about  the importance  of reading                                                              
proficiently  by the  end  of third  grade.  Alaska  ranks at  the                                                              
bottom of the  country on the fourth grade National  Assessment of                                                              
Educational  Progress (NAEP)  for  reading. NAEP  tests at  fourth                                                              
and eighth  grade, and Alaska  is at the  bottom for  fourth grade                                                              
proficiency.  This is  a goal  they cannot  avoid.   DEED will  be                                                              
working  with  districts  to  guide  the  effort  on  third  grade                                                              
reading proficiency.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  that the  trajectory increase  career,                                                              
technical, and  culturally relevant pathways is  important because                                                              
students  who participate  in  two or  more  career and  technical                                                              
education  (CTE)  courses  or  pathways  graduate  at  20  percent                                                              
higher  rates than  students who  do  not. They  can increase  the                                                              
graduation rate by  involving students in these  pathways. DEED is                                                              
offering two  new pathways,  or curriculum,  to districts.  One is                                                              
coding. Coding offers  an opportunity for building  and developing                                                              
an economy, including  in rural Alaska. It can be  part of efforts                                                              
for  cultural   preservation  and   communication  by   preserving                                                              
artifacts and creating  apps around language. Coding  is important                                                              
for  national  security.  Another pathway  is  technical  writing,                                                              
another  need in the  state. They  will increase  dual credit  and                                                              
they want to increase apprenticeships.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said the leadership  team at  the Department                                                              
of  Labor  and of  DEED  met  that  day.  They can  have  a  great                                                              
partnership  with  that  department.  They are  working  with  the                                                              
Alaska  Council of  School Administrators,  which  is leading  the                                                              
effort  with  Code.org.  That  is  just  one  of  the  career  and                                                              
technical pathways  that they can explore for  students. They know                                                              
this will have an impact on graduation.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:59:45 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  addressed the achievement gap  trajectory by                                                              
noting that  Alaska also  has the largest  achievement gap  in the                                                              
country. The  governor's directive addressing  algebra proficiency                                                              
by ninth grade  fits in here. Assessments, tribal  compacting, and                                                              
Every Student  Succeeds Act (ESSA)  work is all about  closing the                                                              
achievement    gap.   Their    new    school   designations    and                                                              
accountability system are all about closing the achievement gap.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON   said  the   importance   of  the   fourth                                                              
trajectory,  prepare,  attract,  and  retain  effective  education                                                              
professionals,  is highlighted  by  problems  with recruiting  and                                                              
retention. The revocation  of the accreditation of  the University                                                              
of Alaska  Anchorage [School of  Education] is another  indication                                                              
of how important this is.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  there are so  many examples  regarding                                                              
safety and  well-being. DEED recently  worked with  other agencies                                                              
to produce a  framework for trauma-engaged practice.  If they want                                                              
every  student to  be reading  proficiently  by the  end of  third                                                              
grade,  they  have   to  address  the  issues   of  ACEs  (Adverse                                                              
Childhood  Experiences).  More   DEED  announcements  around  this                                                              
topic will be coming.  The governor expressed in his  State of the                                                              
State Address that  this is a priority for him in  terms of public                                                              
safety.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  the  third  way  to  answer  Alaska's                                                              
Education Challenge  is through  prioritized strategies.  Kids are                                                              
not  wave pools.  They  don't all  crest the  same  way. They  are                                                              
oceans.  Schools  and the  educational  system must  reflect  that                                                              
beauty and  diversity. Not  every strategy works  the same  way in                                                              
Alaska.  Over  the  course of  the  session,  superintendents  and                                                              
principals  will  be sharing  great  ideas  and the  great  things                                                              
happening  in their districts  to address  these five  priorities.                                                              
Some state  school boards  start every  meeting around  the Alaska                                                              
Education   Challenge   and   how  they   are   addressing   these                                                              
priorities. Districts  are forming partnerships around  career and                                                              
technical education  priorities. Districts  are providing  new and                                                              
innovative  professional development  about reading  intervention.                                                              
Each  district will  prioritize  strategies and  they will  figure                                                              
out how to support districts.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  that   on  last  day  of  the  Alaska                                                              
constitutional  convention,   the  same  delegate   stood  up  and                                                              
proposed a  charter for  Alaska's children.  He quoted,  "We trust                                                              
you; you are  our future. We ask  you to take tomorrow  and dream;                                                              
we know  that you will  see visions we do  not se. We  are certain                                                              
that in capturing today for you, you can plan and build."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said, "Back  in 1956,  they were  talking to                                                              
us. We were their  future. We were the children  they were talking                                                              
to." They  chose to have  a vision to pass  on to them.  They must                                                              
choose what to do  with the vision. They have to  ask whether they                                                              
would be proud of  them. They trusted them. "Trust  is a treasure.                                                              
And once  lost it is  hard to get  back. If  we decide to  be less                                                              
clear and  less articulate  and less  deliberate about  our vision                                                              
now, it  won't be any easier  later, even if  we do have a  lot of                                                              
money  someday. So  are we trustworthy  to articulate  and  lead a                                                              
vision for  Alaska's children? I sure  think so by the  work we've                                                              
done this past year."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON reflected  on this  quote posted at  Pacific                                                              
High School in Sitka:                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Even from long ago we cherish our grandchildren; no matter                                                                 
     what we value, we offer it up to them."                                                                                    
     Sitka elder Chief Charlie Joseph                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   said  as  a  state,  they   value  student                                                              
success,  safety   and  well-being,  purposeful   and  responsible                                                              
learning. They  result in citizens  with character  who contribute                                                              
to the quality  of the world  about them. They will  meet Alaska's                                                              
Education   Challenge   together.   They   cannot   ignore   their                                                              
responsibility.  Essential  to meeting  the  challenge is  clarity                                                              
about  the role  of the  Department of  Education. Information  is                                                              
fundamental to "we  the people." First, DEED has  a responsibility                                                              
to  provide as  much  information as  possible  about schools  and                                                              
educational  options. Second,  DEED is  a hub  of resources.  That                                                              
includes connecting  constituents to  trainings, to  contacts, and                                                              
other educational  support agencies and associations.  Third, they                                                              
must  provide  leadership  by  focusing  all energy  on  the  five                                                              
priorities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  introduced DEED  staff at the  presentation:                                                              
new  Deputy   Commissioner   Karen  Melin,   who  worked   in  the                                                              
department  in the  past  and in  the Fairbanks  School  District;                                                              
Director of  Educator and  School Excellence  Tammy Van  Wyhe, who                                                              
was  the Copper  River School  District  superintendent; Chief  of                                                              
Staff and Legislative  Liaison Brittany Hartmann;  and Director of                                                              
Administrative Services Heidi Teshner.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:09:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS said  he liked the  idea of  the trajectories.  The                                                              
issue of helping  kids to learn to read by the  end of third grade                                                              
is  so crucial.  He  sat  in on  the  task  force this  summer  on                                                              
increasing the  ability to read. He  heard that there are  lots of                                                              
ways  to teach  reading, but  some of  them are  not effective  as                                                              
others. He  asked how they make  sure that teachers  teach reading                                                              
in the most effective way possible.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  replied that  they  know  a lot  about  how                                                              
students learn  to read. There are  some key benchmarks  they need                                                              
to  hit. Deputy  Commissioner Karen  Melin, a  reading expert,  is                                                              
leading that  effort. Professional  development  must be  big part                                                              
of this  effort. That will  be an element  of their work  with the                                                              
University of Alaska  teacher preparation program.  There are more                                                              
effective  ways of  teaching and  of  intervention. Any  effective                                                              
program has to be based on phonics.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said they must  help teachers  in the state  do the                                                              
best job they can.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  said he has noticed  in DEED's own  data something                                                              
to address all  students reading proficiently by the  end of third                                                              
grade  and closing  the  achievement  gap. When  he  looks at  the                                                              
results  of departmentally-approved  pre-kindergarten programs  at                                                              
Lower  Kuskokwim, Nome,  Mat-Su, and  Anchorage School  Districts,                                                              
those kids  seem to enter school  with more skills in  reading and                                                              
continuing  to show  in  third grade.  He asked  if  that data  is                                                              
correct.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON answered  that he  was not  sure which  data                                                              
Senator  Begich was  referring to.  In general  they can say  that                                                              
some students  benefit a  great deal  from opportunities  to learn                                                              
before  kindergarten.   The  Kindergarten  Developmental   Profile                                                              
shows  students  show  up  for  kindergarten  with  a  variety  of                                                              
different skill levels  and some don't have the  skills they need.                                                              
Clearly   some  opportunities   to  learn   those  skills   before                                                              
kindergarten are advantageous.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:14:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said  he is speaking about the  data the department                                                              
has been collecting  from the various experimental  pre-k programs                                                              
for  the  last  eight-to-ten  years.  The  data  provided  by  the                                                              
department  is   showing  that  where  they  have   applied  those                                                              
particular  efforts, which  are  evidence-based  and take  culture                                                              
into  account,  they are  seeing  results.  Those kids  are  doing                                                              
better than  kids who  haven't been  exposed to  that in  the same                                                              
district. It  is hopeful to  him that there  is a way to  meet the                                                              
challenge.  He asked if  it is  the intent  of DEED continue  with                                                              
those pre-kindergarten programs.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  replied that conversations around  pre-k and                                                              
early learning are essential to get kids reading by third grade.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH  said  that Commissioner  Johnson  talked  about  a                                                              
single   state  system,   but  53   districts,   which  means   53                                                              
superintendents and 53  boards. He asked if this would  be the way                                                              
he'd  draw  this  organization,  should it  be  more  streamlined,                                                              
particularly  when the  state of  Alaska  is writing  most of  the                                                              
check, especially  for rural communities.  In South  Anchorage his                                                              
constituents write  big checks for  property taxes  for education.                                                              
He asked for Commissioner Johnson's perspective.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  replied that  this is a regularly  occurring                                                              
conversation. At  a time when they  are performing at  the bottom,                                                              
every  conversation   is  worth   having.  It  is   a  complicated                                                              
conversation.  In many  of  those districts,  superintendents  are                                                              
also  the principal  and business  manager  and special  education                                                              
director.  The superintendency  does not  look the  same in  every                                                              
district. If  two districts  are combined,  that may require  more                                                              
people  to address  all  the  roles. Ongoing  conversations  about                                                              
collaboration and  sharing personnel is something  the governor is                                                              
interested in, but  some districts have been doing  this. Lake and                                                              
Pen  and Bristol  Bay are  doing collaboration  around career  and                                                              
technical development.  Some districts  work with SERRC  [Alaska's                                                              
Educational Resource  Center] to share business  services. There's                                                              
a  great foundation  for  the  conversation  to move  forward.  As                                                              
technology  develops,  as  the  state  develops  and  the  economy                                                              
changes,  they  will  continue  to  discuss  whether  the  current                                                              
structure of public education system still fits.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH said  the most  important person  in the  education                                                              
realm  is  the  classroom  teacher.  He's  always  interested  and                                                              
intrigued about how  many dollars filter to where  the rubber hits                                                              
the road,  in the  classroom. As  an engineer,  he looks  at those                                                              
metrics.  There   have  been   many  discussions  about   distance                                                              
education    and   learning    and   breakthrough    technologies.                                                              
Considering Alaska's  vast geography,  he would like  Commissioner                                                              
Johnson's insights  on the merits  of distance education  and what                                                              
role that could play.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON answered  that  he is  big  fan of  distance                                                              
education. Technology  is getting  better. It gives  students more                                                              
opportunities  to  have access  to  great  teachers. He  gave  the                                                              
analogy of flying  into Juneau. They fly and land  in weather that                                                              
would  have  been illegal  for  a  pilot to  do  so 20  years  ago                                                              
because of technology.  The technology did not  replace the pilot,                                                              
but it did  allow him to do  things he couldn't have  done before.                                                              
Educational  technology  will  never replace  great  teachers  but                                                              
allows  them  to do  things  they  couldn't  do  20 years  ago.  A                                                              
teacher can connect  students in engaging  learning opportunities.                                                              
Northwest Arctic,  Copper River,  and several other  districts are                                                              
doing  great  things with  this.  In  Northwest  Arctic he  met  a                                                              
student who  was participating  in a  collaborative activity  with                                                              
students  in  other  villages.   Everyone  needs  access  to  good                                                              
broadband  to make  that happen.  In 2019 students  in Alaska  can                                                              
have more  access to a variety  of courses with more  quality than                                                              
they ever have before.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:23:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO said  that  as a  former  classroom teacher  and                                                              
parent  of two  boys  in the  Anchorage  School  District, she  is                                                              
happy to  be on the  Education Committee.  She wanted to  focus on                                                              
reading by  third grade.  This is  such a foundational  milestone.                                                              
Alaska  has been  at the  bottom  of this  list for  a while.  She                                                              
appreciates   him  talking   about   the  good   along  with   the                                                              
challenges.  She asked whether  there has  ever been a  discussion                                                              
about declaring an emergency regarding reading proficiency.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said he has had some of  those conversations                                                              
periodically.  When every other  state ranks  above Alaska,  it is                                                              
an emergency for their students.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO said  she wanted to touch upon  his comments that                                                              
students see  relevance in the real  world, so they know  why they                                                              
are being  asked to  learn, particularly  in reference  to coding.                                                              
She took two students  to a hackathon in Seattle  sponsored by the                                                              
U.S.  Navy. The  students were  the  youngest in  the room.  Young                                                              
people  are underestimated  and will  often rise  to a  challenge.                                                              
She  challenges  DEED to  find  those opportunities.  King  Career                                                              
Center is  an outstanding  example. "Having  worked with  students                                                              
have  dropped  out  of  school,  oftentimes  they've  dropped  out                                                              
because we have  failed them," she said. They  are intelligent and                                                              
ready to learn.  Often they are in classrooms with  40 other kids.                                                              
They  are not  challenged.  She has  seen  that hands-on  learning                                                              
will engage students  like nothing else can. There  are pockets of                                                              
that  across  the  state.  She has  looked  at  involving  school-                                                              
business partners  in more relevant  relationships. She  asked how                                                              
they move  from classrooms  of books and  paper/pencil tests  to a                                                              
classroom  of the  world  where students  can  be participants  in                                                              
solving problems.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  responded  that  there  is  no  place  like                                                              
Alaska to  provide hands-on opportunities  to apply  the academics                                                              
they  are learning  in school.  Today a  team of  people from  the                                                              
Department  of Labor and  DEED met  to develop  a plan  to provide                                                              
coding  opportunities.  Code.org,   which  is  promoting  computer                                                              
science standards  and coding opportunities  for all  students, is                                                              
partners  with the Alaska  Council of  School Administrators.  His                                                              
vision is  that coding  is economic  opportunity for students  who                                                              
want to remain in rural Alaska.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said many  tribal organizations  are focused                                                              
on  apps  for  language  preservation.   Coding  can  be  part  of                                                              
recording  elders speaking  and documenting  artifacts. Coding  is                                                              
also a  huge issue  for national security.  Alaska has  a military                                                              
presence,  and cargo from  other countries  comes through  Alaska.                                                              
Coding should  be big part  of future efforts  and is high  on the                                                              
list of the governor's priorities.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:30:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS asked about health and well-being.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  they  did  host a  safety  summit  in                                                              
Anchorage.  Also,   four  or  five   years  ago   the  legislature                                                              
appropriated  $22  million  for  school  safety. They  did  a  gap                                                              
analysis  to determine  where they  are today  in terms of  school                                                              
safety. That  will be coming out  in next few  weeks. Transforming                                                              
Schools: A  Framework for Trauma-Engaged  Practice is a  result of                                                              
partnerships with  a whole host  of organizations, led by  a grant                                                              
from  the  Association  of Alaska  School  Boards.  The  framework                                                              
addresses  how schools can  handle well-being  issues and  threats                                                              
students face.  DEED will  have more  information in coming  weeks                                                              
about specific efforts and strategies to address those issues.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH said  that he  will  continue to  work to  support                                                              
DEED  so  that  it  can  fulfill   the  constitutional  obligation                                                              
Commissioner   Johnson   described  at   the   beginning  of   his                                                              
presentation.  Those 60  words in  Article 7,  Section 1,  matter.                                                              
They  get to  the heart  of what  Commissioner  Johnson's job  is.                                                              
DEED support  for the 53 districts  is the essential  component of                                                              
that mission.  In the past they  have teetered close to  not being                                                              
able to  provide that support. Senator  Begich said he  is looking                                                              
forward to seeing  the governor's budget and seeing  that it meets                                                              
the requirement of that constitutional support.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:34:45 PM                                                                                                                    
There  being no  further business  to come  before the  committee,                                                              
Chair Stevens  adjourned the  Senate Education Standing  Committee                                                              
at 4:34 p.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SEDC_Hearing_24Jan2019_DEED_Overview_AK_Ed_Challenge.pdf SEDC 1/24/2019 3:30:00 PM
Department of Education & Early Development - Overview - 24Jan2019