Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

03/27/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 102(EDC) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Moved SSHB 146 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
           HB 52-PRE-ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAMS/PLANS                                                                       
8:10:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  52, "An  Act relating  to  providing a  pre-                                                               
elementary program  within a school  district; and  providing for                                                               
the certification of early childhood education plans."                                                                          
8:11:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SCOTT   KAWASAKI,  Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
reminded the  committee HB 52  would provide  voluntary statewide                                                               
universal   pre-elementary  (Pre-K)   programs   by  request   to                                                               
interested  school districts.   He  advised children  who take  a                                                               
Pre-K  program  perform  better  on  tests,  graduate  in  higher                                                               
numbers, are  more successful as  adults, and are more  likely to                                                               
attend college.  Through school  districts' existing Pre-K, [U.S.                                                               
Department of  Health and Human  Services] Head Start,  and other                                                               
early  education programs,  the  bill creates  a  means in  which                                                               
early  education can  be offered  to all  children aged  three to                                                               
five years.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  concurred  that studies  indicate  the                                                               
benefits of Pre-K  education and exposure to  caring adult models                                                               
include  better   health  and  social   skills,  self-confidence,                                                               
problem-solving skills,  and resilience.   She asked  whether the                                                               
voluntary  structure  of  the  bill was  that  the  programs  are                                                               
voluntary to individuals, or voluntary to school districts.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  said   school  districts  would  decide                                                               
whether  to  offer  Pre-K  programs,  and  parents  would  choose                                                               
whether to enroll their children in  a Pre-K program.  He pointed                                                               
out compulsory school attendance in  Alaska is not required until                                                               
a child attains the age of six.                                                                                                 
CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony on HB 52.                                                                                
8:15:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SAMANTHA ADAMS,  Licensed Childcare  and Preschool  Teacher, said                                                               
she has been  a licensed childcare and preschool  teacher for ten                                                               
and  one-half  years.    From   her  experience  networking  with                                                               
colleagues in early childhood education,  and other teachers, she                                                               
related young children need school  readiness which is defined as                                                               
cumulative gains  across developmental domains from  birth to age                                                               
five.   For  example,  fine  motor skills  and  literacy are  two                                                               
important developmental  areas that  can be  learned in  the home                                                               
prior  to  entering  school  if  the  home  setting  can  provide                                                               
appropriate  resources.   However,  other  areas of  development,                                                               
such  as social  and  emotional competency,  take  place best  in                                                               
group  settings.   Ms. Adams  explained young  children need  the                                                               
opportunity  to work  in a  social  setting with  their peers  to                                                               
problem-solve,   self-regulate,  and   to   prepare  for   social                                                               
settings; with this foundation,  children are ready for academics                                                               
in kindergarten and first grade.   Furthermore, a preschool class                                                               
of twelve  students to  one teacher  is the  ideal group  size in                                                               
which children  can develop social  and emotional  competency and                                                               
prepare  for larger  classrooms  in kindergarten.   Finally,  she                                                               
said "fadeout" of the skills  learned in early childhood learning                                                               
is a myth; in fact, early skills are learned for life.                                                                          
8:18:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  about the  potential impact  of the                                                               
MS. ADAMS  described a variety  of preschool  education programs:                                                               
programs not  offered through school  districts but  certified by                                                               
the Department  of Education and Early  Development (EED); family                                                               
childcare providing  preschool and fulltime  childcare; part-time                                                               
religious  programs.    For the  legislation  to  broadly  impact                                                               
communities,  the funding  must address  other programs  that are                                                               
not part of  the public school system, because  the programs need                                                               
to be "positive and sustained."                                                                                                 
CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  for the cost to place a  child in a private                                                               
preschool program in Juneau.                                                                                                    
MS.  ADAMS  advised her  preschool  sessions  are Monday  through                                                               
Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00  p.m., and cost $415.00 per month.                                                               
When   preschool  and   fulltime  childcare   services  are   not                                                               
consolidated, families  must take children to  multiple programs.                                                               
In  further  response to  Chair  Drummond,  she said  the  Juneau                                                               
School District offers a  peer-integrated preschool program which                                                               
takes place in a classroom of  twelve children, six of which have                                                               
special needs.   Ms. Adams  further explained  preschool programs                                                               
help identify  special needs children  at a very early  age, from                                                               
birth to five years.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  asked for  the percentage of  children who                                                               
are identified with special needs.                                                                                              
MS. ADAMS said during her ten  and one-half years of teaching she                                                               
has  referred  three or  four  children.   High  quality  [Pre-K]                                                               
programs  are qualified  to make  referrals  based on  indicators                                                               
that the families  may be reluctant to acknowledge.   She offered                                                               
anecdotal stories  of the  families that  she has  helped address                                                               
their child's special needs.                                                                                                    
8:25:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked whether pediatricians in  Juneau are making                                                               
referrals and identifying needs.                                                                                                
MS. ADAMS pointed  out a pediatrician may only see  a child for a                                                               
brief visit,  whereas consolidated  preschool and  daycare allows                                                               
the teacher/caregiver  to observe  the child  for seven  to eight                                                               
hours  a day.   She  directed attention  to her  written comments                                                               
submitted to the committee containing additional testimony.                                                                     
8:27:38 AM                                                                                                                    
TREVOR  STORRS,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Children's  Trust,                                                               
informed the  committee the  Alaska Children's  Trust (ACT)  is a                                                               
statewide organization  focused on the prevention  of child abuse                                                               
and  neglect.    Mr.  Storrs  observed  the  legislature  has  an                                                               
opportunity to  invest in the  wellbeing of young children.   [HB
52]   would  provide   school  districts   and  communities   the                                                               
opportunity  to  invest in  children  so  children are  ready  to                                                               
succeed in  school and  in life.   Providing  Pre-K is  not about                                                               
[higher]  test  scores,  but  puts children  in  position  to  be                                                               
successful,  contributing adults.    In order  for  the state  to                                                               
avoid high  Medicaid costs, building  more jails,  concerns about                                                               
law  enforcement  and homelessness,  and  other  ills, the  state                                                               
needs to create a new system  based on the proven changes brought                                                               
by early childhood education that will  - over time - address the                                                               
state's [budget] deficit.   Mr. Storrs said ACT  highly urges the                                                               
committee to support HB 52.                                                                                                     
8:30:24 AM                                                                                                                    
STEPHANIE  BERGLUND,   CEO,  thread,  said  thread   is  Alaska's                                                               
childcare  resource and  referral network.   Ms.  Berglund stated                                                               
strong support for  HB 52, and any expansion of  Pre-K in Alaska.                                                               
Decades  of  research  has  shown Pre-K  makes  a  difference  to                                                               
children not only  in school readiness, but for a  lifetime.  The                                                               
most  formative years  of brain  development come  well before  a                                                               
child goes to kindergarten; further,  the state needs a workforce                                                               
of individuals who  achieve education beyond high  school and who                                                               
have advanced  technical skills.   Ms. Berglund  acknowledged the                                                               
state's  budget situation;  however,  the  budget situation  will                                                               
improve if the state invests  more of its resources to productive                                                               
endeavors   rather  than   in  remediation,   incarceration,  and                                                               
welfare.  She pointed out  the budget benefits of Pre-K education                                                               
come from  cost savings  in education,  grade retention,  and the                                                               
criminal  justice  system; and  from  cost  increases in  greater                                                               
economic productivity.  She closed,  observing that every $10,000                                                               
invested  in a  child  increases his/her  future  earnings by  10                                                               
percent.   Ms. Berglund  restated thread's support  of HB  52 and                                                               
programs to expand voluntary Pre-K  to all four-year-old children                                                               
in Alaska in a mixed delivery setting.                                                                                          
CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked about the  shortage of available  space [to                                                               
place young children] in preschools.                                                                                            
MS. BERGLUND clarified thread estimates  - although children need                                                               
care through the  age of twelve - families with  the highest need                                                               
for quality childhood programs are  for children between the ages                                                               
of zero and  six, so it is estimated that  there are about 40,000                                                               
children, under the  age of six, in families with  all the adults                                                               
working, and  there are less  than 18,000 quality early  care and                                                               
learning spaces in Alaska.                                                                                                      
CHAIR DRUMMOND concluded then less  than one in two children have                                                               
quality space available.                                                                                                        
8:34:58 AM                                                                                                                    
KARLI LOPEZ  stated her  support for  HB 52 and  said she  is the                                                               
parent of  two preschoolers,  one of  whom is  in his  third year                                                               
attending  special education  preschool in  the Anchorage  School                                                               
District.   She  said the  bill is  missing one  component:   The                                                               
Individuals with  Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)  directs that                                                               
whenever  possible  her  son  is  to be  educated  in  the  least                                                               
restrictive environment and in a  classroom with his peers, which                                                               
is not  possible due to the  lack of a public  preschool program.                                                               
The preschool  program attended by  her son is only  available to                                                               
children who  qualify for  special education, and  thus is  not a                                                               
fully  inclusive setting.   In  an inclusive  setting, her  son's                                                               
classmates  understand his  different needs  and he  is welcomed.                                                               
Ms. Lopez provided examples of  how peer modeling is tremendously                                                               
beneficial  to the  understanding and  participation of  children                                                               
with  disabilities.   She urged  the committee  to recognize  the                                                               
long-term benefits of early childhood  education and to invest in                                                               
Alaska's future.                                                                                                                
8:37:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DRUMMOND,  after  ascertaining   no  one  else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 52.  She remarked:                                                                       
     Universal   Pre-K   is   such    a   big   topic,   and                                                                    
     Representative Spohnholz and I  are working out a joint                                                                    
     Education/Health   and    Social   Services   committee                                                                    
     meeting, so  we can  help to  remove the  funding silos                                                                    
     for children from  birth to age five, that  we all know                                                                    
     exist in this state, and  that we've heard from several                                                                    
     testifiers today.  I know  this topic of preschool will                                                                    
     fit in  nicely with  this discussion,  so I'm  going to                                                                    
     set this  bill aside for now  so that we can  have that                                                                    
     joint  meeting  and  get  a better  feel  for  the  big                                                                    
8:38:06 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
CHAIR  DRUMMOND  said  a  document is  being  distributed  to  be                                                               
included  in  the  committee packet  from  the  Washington  State                                                               
Institute   for  Public   Policy,   entitled,  "Early   Childhood                                                               
Education for Low-Income Students:   A Review of the Evidence and                                                               
Benefit-Cost Analysis."                                                                                                         
8:38:51 AM                                                                                                                    
HB 52 was held over.                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects