Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/26/1999 01:32 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 requirements. 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 enrollment. 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 requirement. 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 department. 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.