Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/26/1999 01:32 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
      SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                                                                    
                          April 26, 1999                                                                                        
                            1:32 p.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
Senator Mike Miller, Chairman                                                                                                   
Senator Pete Kelly, Vice-Chairman                                                                                               
Senator Gary Wilken                                                                                                             
Senator Drue Pearce                                                                                                             
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
All members were present                                                                                                        
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
SENATE BILL NO. 112                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to a program of postsecondary education for high                                                               
school students."                                                                                                               
     -HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 103                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to a curriculum for Native language education; and                                                             
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     -MOVED SB 103 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 22                                                                                                  
Relating to the National Museum of Women's History and the National                                                             
Museum of Women's History Alaska Council.                                                                                       
     -MOVED SJR 22 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                
SB 112 - See HESS Committee minutes dated 4/19/99                                                                               
SB 103 - No previous action to report                                                                                           
SJR 22 - No previous action to report                                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB 103                                                                                           
Ms. Eliza Jones                                                                                                                 
PO Box 47                                                                                                                       
Koyukuk, AK  99754                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 103                                                                                           
Mr. James M. Nageak                                                                                                             
North Slope Borough School District                                                                                             
PO Box 169                                                                                                                      
Barrow, AK  99723                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 103                                                                                           
Mr. Bruce Johnson, Director                                                                                                     
Division of Teaching & Learning                                                                                                 
Department of Education                                                                                                         
801 W. 10th St., Ste. 200                                                                                                       
Juneau, AK  99801-1894                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 103                                                                                           
Ms. Portia Parker, Staff Aide                                                                                                   
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SJR 22                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-20, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 001                                                                                                                      
           SB 112-POSTSECONDARY CLASS FOR HIGH SCHOOL                                                                           
CHAIRMAN MILLER called the Senate Health, Education and Social                                                                  
Services (HESS) Committee to order at 1:32 p.m. and took up SB 112.                                                             
Senator Elton worked with the school districts and administration                                                               
and would present the changes in the proposed Committee Substitute.                                                             
SENATOR ELTON explained that on page 2, lines 5-6, the GPA was                                                                  
changed from 2.25 to 2.75, but with an added caveat that a student                                                              
with less than a 2.75 could receive permission from the school's                                                                
principal to waive the requirement.  The waiver was thought                                                                     
especially important so that 'C' students could participate in                                                                  
business or vocational education courses.  He described a student                                                               
he knew with a 1.98 GPA in high school who is concurrently                                                                      
maintaining a 4.0 GPA at UAF, stressing that the amended threshold                                                              
of 2.75 would not preclude people from participation.                                                                           
The second change begins on line 21 of page 3, adding a new                                                                     
paragraph (d) to accommodate the concerns heard from the school                                                                 
districts who don't want interference with existing or future                                                                   
arrangements they share with the University.  This provides that                                                                
districts could continue to make individual arrangements as long as                                                             
it is understood that the school district would pay for the tuition                                                             
under the requirements of the bill.                                                                                             
Number 056                                                                                                                      
SENATOR PEARCE asked if the bill includes language that the student                                                             
must be in good standing in completing credit hours and on track to                                                             
graduate from high school.  She gave an example of a student who                                                                
likes math but hates everything else and when he turns 18, he's got                                                             
college credit but no high school diploma.                                                                                      
SENATOR ELTON referred to page 2, line 23 which states the district                                                             
will determine the secondary school academic credits granted to a                                                               
student for the joint courses.  The district would still set the                                                                
graduation requirements and would monitor that the student is not,                                                              
for example, taking all foreign language courses and ignoring his                                                               
basic science courses.  Nothing in this bill changes the high                                                                   
school graduation requirements that are set by the district.                                                                    
SENATOR PEARCE responded that we don't tell the school districts                                                                
that they have to require a student to graduate, because there is                                                               
no way to do that.  She said she doesn't want to set up a case                                                                  
where a student who isn't on track with the required course work                                                                
for high school graduation can take the University courses. She                                                                 
doesn't want the district to allow the student to take five math                                                                
courses unless the student is on track with the high school                                                                     
SENATOR ELTON said he doesn't know how to ensure in any bill that                                                               
a student receives all the credits they need for graduation.                                                                    
SENATOR PEARCE noted on page 2, subsection (a), lines 3-10 state                                                                
that permission may not be granted unless the student has met all                                                               
the requirements to be at level 11th or 12th grade.  There is some                                                              
number of credit hours a student must have completed to be on the                                                               
graduation track, as opposed to just completing credits after                                                                   
you're a sophomore and  before you become a junior and are eligible                                                             
for this program.  If a junior failed to complete or didn't bother                                                              
to take a required course as a sophomore, when he finishes 12th                                                                 
grade he should not be allowed, in subsection (a) postsecondary                                                                 
The students interested in postsecondary enrollment might work a                                                                
little harder to make sure they're on schedule with the courses                                                                 
they don't excel at, rather than focusing only on the courses they                                                              
like.  It's going to be a "kick" for a lot of students to go to                                                                 
campus and take courses.  SENATOR PEARCE said that she did it                                                                   
coming out of 8th grade, and she thought that it was the most                                                                   
wonderful thing because she was "so grown up."  Kids will fight to                                                              
do this, but she doesn't want them to do it unless they've                                                                      
completed their other credits.  In other words, there are things                                                                
you have to pass each year in order to graduate after four years.                                                               
She was unsure if "student enrolled in the 11th grade"  under our                                                               
laws ensures that you can't be an 11th grader unless you've                                                                     
completed prerequisites.                                                                                                        
Number 166                                                                                                                      
SENATOR ELTON said a student completes the number of credits to                                                                 
advance from one grade to the next in high school.  If he fails to                                                              
do that because he's taking too many electives, the school                                                                      
counselor advises him he's falling behind and won't meet the degree                                                             
requirements set for the end of the 12th grade.  The same thing                                                                 
would happen if he was enrolled for dual credit.  Senator Elton was                                                             
unsure how to codify that other than the way it's currently set up.                                                             
CHAIRMAN MILLER shared the example of his daughter in the 11th                                                                  
grade.  The counselor told her the classes she had to take and,                                                                 
with 2 or 3 hours left over,  the electives she could choose from.                                                              
SENATOR PEARCE pointed out that if Chairman Miller's daughter had                                                               
missed a course in 10th grade, even if she planned to make it up as                                                             
an elective somehow in the 11th grade, Senator Pearce wouldn't want                                                             
her to be eligible for this program.                                                                                            
CHAIRMAN MILLER stated he understood that Senator Pearce is saying                                                              
she doesn't want students to be in this program if they haven't                                                                 
completed their high school requirements at that point in time.                                                                 
SENATOR ELTON said it's a good point.  There has always been an                                                                 
assumption that if a student is dual-enrolled, at the time they are                                                             
at the university, it's the university's problem and the time they                                                              
are at the high school, it's the high school's problem.  In the                                                                 
nineteen or twenty states with this program, they've found that                                                                 
dual-enrolled students require more active participation by the                                                                 
counselor's office to work with the student, the high school                                                                    
teachers and the family to ensure these things don't happen.                                                                    
SENATOR PEARCE repeated that she feels students should be caught up                                                             
before they are eligible and if they fall behind on one of the                                                                  
courses they need to graduate, then they shouldn't be eligible for                                                              
university courses until they catch up.  For example, if a student                                                              
had to take a two-semester chemistry course as a junior and didn't                                                              
pass the first semester but was on the university campus taking a                                                               
math course, then the student should catch up on chemistry before                                                               
going back to the university.                                                                                                   
SENATOR ELTON said in the case Senator Pearce cited about the                                                                   
student not fulfilling a 10th grade requirement, the student would                                                              
not be an 11th grade student, and therefore would not be able to                                                                
participate.  The problem may occur, though, with a 12th grader who                                                             
hadn't completed an 11th grade requirement because the bill does                                                                
provide that if you're in the 11th grade you can participate.                                                                   
CHAIRMAN MILLER asked the sponsor about adding a caveat such as: a                                                              
student enrolled in the 11th or 12th grade maintaining a GPA of                                                                 
2.75 or equivalent and "in good standing" - or terminology that                                                                 
means the student is where he should be as a junior, or where he                                                                
should be as a senior.  He said he was unsure what terminology                                                                  
should be used.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR PEARCE said she was unsure, because she didn't know that                                                                
all the school districts define it, and she wondered if the state                                                               
regulations require districts to define it that way.  It used to be                                                             
"just how many years you hung around,"  which is why students had                                                               
to pass exit exams.  Students who successfully completed the                                                                    
requirements might not be able to successfully do the work.                                                                     
SENATOR WILKEN said he agreed with Senator Pearce's suggestion and                                                              
thought there must be a sentence or two that would add that                                                                     
Number 225                                                                                                                      
SENATOR ELTON a conceptual suggestion on page 2, line 3,  "a                                                                    
secondary student in good standing enrolled in the 11th or 12th                                                                 
grade."  The definition of "good standing" would probably have to                                                               
be applied at the district level, and he was unsure the legislature                                                             
would want to craft a state definition.  This would allow the high                                                              
school principal to say a student is not in good standing if                                                                    
deficient in some area.                                                                                                         
SENATOR PEARCE recommended asking DOE what fits better under their                                                              
regulations, because she didn't know. She offered to call the                                                                   
CHAIRMAN MILLER requested that Senator Elton find out the                                                                       
definition.  He would hold SB 112 and move it out on Wednesday, if                                                              
possible.  He asked for other discussion and hearing none, he held                                                              
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                SB 103-NATIVE LANGUAGE EDUCATION                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MILLER brought SB 103 before the committee and invited                                                                 
Senator Lincoln to present it.                                                                                                  
Number 275                                                                                                                      
SENATOR GEORGIANNA LINCOLN said she appreciated the committee                                                                   
hearing the bill.  She pointed out the sponsor statement and backup                                                             
information in the members' packets, and the zero fiscal note from                                                              
the department.  Mr. Bruce Johnson would be available to answer                                                                 
questions about the fiscal note. She presented a map of the 20                                                                  
languages throughout the state, noting that 15 to 18 are in danger                                                              
of possible extinction, with Central and Siberian Yupik the only                                                                
two healthy languages.                                                                                                          
As an Alaska Native, Senator Lincoln's mother could speak and read                                                              
their Athabaskan Koyukon language very fluently, but when she went                                                              
to the Eklutna grade school she was punished for speaking the                                                                   
native language and consequently none of the seven siblings know                                                                
the native language except for "all the bad words and some phrases                                                              
and words."   She said she cannot converse with the elders and can                                                              
understand only a few words they are saying. Often she would hear                                                               
her mother laugh with the elders and she'd ask her to tell the                                                                  
story and what it means, and she'd say, "I can't because if I                                                                   
translate it into English, it loses its meaning."  Senator Lincoln                                                              
said she always felt somewhat cheated that she couldn't know her                                                                
language and pass it on to her children.  When she hears the                                                                    
argument that native languages should be taught in the home, she                                                                
can't do that.                                                                                                                  
Sitting in the Nulato school nine years ago when running for the                                                                
House, she saw a Japanese lady from Seattle on t.v. teaching the                                                                
students the Japanese language. The students asked Senator Lincoln                                                              
why they couldn't be taught their own language. Their choices were                                                              
French, Spanish, or Russian, and since then, German and Japanese                                                                
have been added.  She felt students should have the opportunity to                                                              
learn those languages but also that one of the choices should be an                                                             
Alaska native language.  That is why she introduced SB 103.                                                                     
The language of the bill is permissive.  The local advisory board                                                               
would ask the school board for the native language, and they would                                                              
take it under advisement and add it to the curriculum.                                                                          
Number 348                                                                                                                      
SENATOR WILKEN asked if anything in state law today prohibits a                                                                 
school district from doing this.                                                                                                
SENATOR LINCOLN paraphrased written testimony from Richard                                                                      
Dauenhauer who stated this bill gives positive, largely symbolic                                                                
support for the survival of Alaska native languages by recognizing                                                              
the legitimacy of their inclusion in the school curriculum.                                                                     
Only two school districts have really made an effort to do this.                                                                
The process isn't in place for the school boards to know this is                                                                
possible.  This sets out by law what they can do; "right now, it's                                                              
catch as catch can."                                                                                                            
MS. ELIZA JONES of Koyukuk spoke in support of SB 103. She said she                                                             
has worked for years teaching language, and feels strongly that any                                                             
effort to support native language at home or in the school is                                                                   
positive. The native language is so unique that if it's lost in the                                                             
home area, then it's lost forever.  Each language carries a unique                                                              
world view, and the loss of a language is a loss to the population                                                              
in general.                                                                                                                     
MS. JONES said she has been teaching Koyukon Athabaskan by audio                                                                
conference to university and high school students.  It is not the                                                               
same as teaching in a classroom setting, but the students are                                                                   
appreciative of whatever she can teach them.  With the technology                                                               
available today, she believes someone needs to develop the                                                                      
curriculum to teach native language.                                                                                            
Number 405                                                                                                                      
SENATOR LINCOLN said Eliza Jones brought up a good point, that                                                                  
language can be taught without having a teacher in every school, by                                                             
utilizing the audio satellite system.  Many classes could be taught                                                             
with a local individual to supplement the teaching.                                                                             
MR. JAMES M. NAGEAK of Barrow spoke in support of SB 103.  He said                                                              
he was at the University of Alaska when Eliza Jones was there.  He                                                              
saw her Athabaskan name and "it was about 2 miles long," and he                                                                 
wanted to learn how to say it so he had her tutor him for the whole                                                             
year.  It was an exchange of languages.  A problem he had with the                                                              
Alaska Native Language Center was that it archived the                                                                          
documentation, when language should be used as a "living language,"                                                             
not something archived into "the catacombs of Rasmussen Library."                                                               
MR. NAGEAK said he liked the wording in the bill in 14.30.40 (a)                                                                
which states the school board shall establish a local native                                                                    
language curriculum advisory board.  The North Slope Borough School                                                             
District bilingual education program does not have an advisory                                                                  
board of people from the 8 schools speaking the Inupiat language.                                                               
He explained that he learned Inupiat at home until he started                                                                   
school at age nine or ten, and then learned English in the                                                                      
classroom.  His grandfather told him he'd better learn English so                                                               
that he could become a contributor in the Inupiat language                                                                      
community. His younger brothers didn't hear Inupiat as much as when                                                             
he was growing up because the older siblings were practicing their                                                              
English at home. MR. NAGEAK believes everyone in the community                                                                  
needs to make the commitment to pitch in and help teach the native                                                              
language, to make it a viable and useful tool.  Barrow is fortunate                                                             
to have a community college connected with the University; it is                                                                
trying to develop a core of local teachers.                                                                                     
Number 551                                                                                                                      
MR. BRUCE JOHNSON, Director of the Division of Teaching & Learning,                                                             
Department of Education, testified that the State Board of                                                                      
Education conceptually supports SB 103 through their adoption of                                                                
the World Language Content Standards.  The standards state that a                                                               
student should be able to communicate in two or more languages, one                                                             
being English. This is particularly relevant for Alaska's                                                                       
indigenous languages.  In addition, the board endorsed culturally                                                               
responsive school standards that, in part, outlined that a                                                                      
culturally responsive curriculum uses the local language and                                                                    
cultural knowledge as a foundation for the rest of the curriculum.                                                              
Research suggests that bilingualism may have a positive effect on                                                               
a student's general cognitive abilities, and the learning of a                                                                  
second language is not detrimental to the student's first language.                                                             
CHAIRMAN MILLER asked for questions or discussion, and hearing                                                                  
none, asked the wish of the committee.                                                                                          
SENATOR PEARCE moved SB 103 from committee with individual                                                                      
recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                      
         SJR 22-NATL. MUSEUM WOMEN'S HISTORY AK COUNCIL                                                                         
Number 567                                                                                                                      
MS. PORTIA PARKER, Staff Aide, said she was testifying on behalf                                                                
of Senator Green, the prime sponsor of SJR 22.  She explained the                                                               
resolution was introduced to support the efforts of the National                                                                
Museum of Women's History organization and to encourage the 106th                                                               
Congress to designate a suitable site for the museum.  Once that                                                                
is accomplished, the museum will be completely privately funded.                                                                
Their suggestion is the Auditor's Building, an older building in                                                                
downtown D.C. currently housing some of the U.S. Forest Service.                                                                
The USFS is being downsized and is only taking up a portion of                                                                  
the building.  It needs extensive renovation and restoration                                                                    
which will also be privately funded, as will the maintenance and                                                                
upkeep and the operating costs of the museum.                                                                                   
The resolution encourages support for this organization and the                                                                 
development of a private Alaska chapter.  Money would be raised                                                                 
from the public.  Fifty-three members of Congress are serving on                                                                
the honorary board of trustees.  Nancy Murkowski is serving on                                                                  
the board of advisors. As of March 1999, the organization had                                                                   
raised over $10 million.                                                                                                        
SENATOR PEARCE moved SJR 22 from committee with individual                                                                      
recommendations.  Without objection, it was so ordered.                                                                         
CHAIRMAN MILLER announced that Wednesday the committee would take                                                               
up the Boards of Regents and Education confirmations, Senator                                                                   
Elton's bill, and preliminary discussion of SB 94, the medical                                                                  
marijuana bill.  Senator Leman has a sponsor substitute and the                                                                 
Chairman's intent would be to take his testimony and invited                                                                    
testimony from the departments during the regular meeting. Public                                                               
testimony would be heard from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. of the same day.                                                                 
Committee members wouldn't necessarily need to be present during                                                                
the evening hearing because the committee would deal with the                                                                   
bill next week.  He asked Senators Elton and Kelly to let him                                                                   
know the confirmees they want to testify before the committee.                                                                  
One Regent is out of the country, one is out of the state, and                                                                  
three will hook up telephonically.  With no further business                                                                    
before the committee, Chairman Miller adjourned at 2:20 p.m.                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects