Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106


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03:51:05 PM Start
03:51:17 PM Overview: Early Childhood Development Task Force
04:29:01 PM Adjourn
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+ Presentation by Early Childhood TELECONFERENCED
Development Task Force
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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
 HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                               
                         March 2, 2006                                                                                          
                           3:51 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Peggy Wilson, Chair                                                                                              
Representative Paul Seaton, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Tom Anderson                                                                                                     
Representative Vic Kohring                                                                                                      
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Berta Gardner                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW(S):  EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 356                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to consent for medical and dental services,                                                                    
including bone marrow donation, for a minor."                                                                                   
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 430                                                                                                              
"An Act making an appropriation for the construction of the                                                                     
Palmer Senior Citizen Center; and providing for an effective                                                                    
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
IRA PERMAN, President & CEO                                                                                                     
Alaska Humanities Forum;                                                                                                        
Member, Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented information on the Ready to Read,                                                                
Ready to Learn Task Force.                                                                                                      
ROB GRUNEWALD, Associate Economist                                                                                              
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented  information regarding  the Perry                                                               
Preschool program in Minnesota.                                                                                                 
BRIDGETT CHANDLER                                                                                                               
Washington State Governor's Early Learning Council                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented brain research data.                                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR PEGGY WILSON called the  House Health, Education and Social                                                             
Services  Standing  Committee meeting  to  order  at 3:51:05  PM.                                                             
Representatives  Gatto, Seaton,  and Wilson  were present  at the                                                               
call to order.                                                                                                                  
^OVERVIEW:  EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE                                                                            
3:51:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
an overview of the child development task force.                                                                                
3:52:03 PM                                                                                                                    
IRA  PERMAN, President  & CEO,  Alaska Humanities  Forum; Member,                                                               
Ready  to Read,  Ready to  Learn Task  Force, explained  that the                                                               
task  force is  a broad  coalition with  members from  across the                                                               
state to  help children  across the state  enter school  ready to                                                               
read and  learn.  He  then introduced Rob Grunewald  and Bridgett                                                               
Chandler, who will present a PowerPoint to the committee.                                                                       
3:53:57 PM                                                                                                                    
ROB  GRUNEWALD,  Associate  Economist, Federal  Reserve  Bank  of                                                               
Minneapolis,   informed   the   committee  that   he   has   been                                                               
investigating the research on  early childhood development, which                                                               
clearly  illustrates that  investments  made  in children  before                                                               
they  reach kindergarten  has  an  impact on  the  economy.   The                                                               
aforementioned is based  on research, including that  of James J.                                                               
Heckman, Nobel  laureate economist at the  University of Chicago.                                                               
What has been discovered is  that because of the sensitive period                                                               
from  birth  to  age  five, whatever  happens  during  that  time                                                               
establishes the trajectory  for kids.  On average, by  the time a                                                               
child  reaches kindergarten,  his/her  course  toward success  or                                                               
failure in  school is established.   One of the  key longitudinal                                                               
studies was the  Perry Preschool study in  Ypsilanti, Michigan, a                                                               
very  socioeconomically  distressed  community.    Children  were                                                               
selected to  participate in  the study  and randomly  assigned to                                                               
the Perry Preschool  program or the control group.   The children                                                               
in  the program  had a  daily classroom  session and  the teacher                                                               
visited the  families' homes  to work on  parenting skills.   The                                                               
children in  both groups  were tracked until  they were  40 years                                                               
old.  The researchers found  significant effects in regard to the                                                               
children's achievement  scores, whether they graduated  from high                                                               
school  on  time, and  whether  they  required special  education                                                               
requirements   as  illustrated   by  slides   presented  by   Mr.                                                               
3:56:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRUNEWALD  explained that  at age  40, the  researchers found                                                               
significant economic  effects, including the percent  of children                                                               
who  later  own their  own  homes  and  made  more money  in  the                                                               
workforce.   Furthermore,  crime  rates were  essentially cut  in                                                               
half [in  the group  that participated  in the  Perry Preschool].                                                               
He further  explained that  a number of  benefits from  the study                                                               
can be  converted to  dollars in order  to evaluate  the relative                                                               
benefits of the  program as compared to the cost  of the program.                                                               
The cost of  the program in today's dollars is  about $10,000 per                                                               
child on average.   He noted that the participants  of the [Perry                                                               
Preschool] program  were three-  and four-year-olds  who attended                                                               
[the preschool] for  about a year-and-a-half.  Savings  to the K-                                                               
12 system were  found due to reductions in  special education and                                                               
grade retention.   There were  also higher  participant earnings,                                                               
most of which  is a private benefit to  the participant, although                                                               
some returns  to the public  in the  form of higher  tax revenue.                                                               
For the Perry Preschool program  there were strong savings due to                                                               
the reduced needs of the criminal  justice system and the cost of                                                               
crimes to  victims.   Once all  the benefits  of the  program are                                                               
summed  and  evaluated relative  to  the  cost, the  benefit-cost                                                               
ratio is $17:$1.   To better compare the return  on this program,                                                               
the  benefit-cost ratio  was converted  into  an annual  interest                                                               
rate, which amounts  to 18 percent.  Most of  the benefits accrue                                                               
to the  public; the public rate  of return is estimated  to be 16                                                               
percent.    Further, the  returns  on  investments to  the  stock                                                               
market for  the last  25-30 years,  adjusted for  inflation, were                                                               
5-7 percent.                                                                                                                    
3:58:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRUNEWALD related  that there  are three  other longitudinal                                                               
studies with  cost-benefit ratios over  $1.  All of  the programs                                                               
show  significant  savings and  range  from  7-20 percent.    Mr.                                                               
Grunewald concluded by relating that  some of the lessons learned                                                               
from the  research was  the importance  of investing  in quality;                                                               
reaching at-risk  populations results  in the  strongest savings;                                                               
focusing  on both  numeracy and  literacy skills  as well  as the                                                               
social  and emotional  components  of the  child's learning;  and                                                               
bringing  the  programs  to  scale  to  reach  large  numbers  of                                                               
children.   Mr.  Grunewald  recalled  that about  a  year ago  in                                                               
Minnesota, a group of business  and community leaders came to the                                                               
legislature  representing about  100 different  organizations and                                                               
requested  that the  legislature join  them in  a partnership  in                                                               
identifying  those  practices and  programs  that  can most  cost                                                               
effectively   provide  early   education  to   the  children   in                                                               
Minnesota, which is what he views is occurring today in Alaska.                                                                 
4:01:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON mentioned  that she  and Representatives  Gatto and                                                               
Seaton  are  members  of  the   House  Finance  Education  Budget                                                               
Subcommittee.  She  noted her excitement with regard  to the many                                                               
ways in which the state can save money in education.                                                                            
4:01:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked if Minnesota  has expanded this pilot                                                               
MR.  GRUNEWALD answered  that the  community and  business leader                                                               
group along with the State of  Minnesota has pooled money to fund                                                               
pilot projects in order to determine  the best path.  In response                                                               
to Representative  Gatto, Mr. Grunewald clarified  that the Perry                                                               
Preschool program  study was  a 40-year study  that began  in the                                                               
early  1960s.    Of  the  other  three  programs  mentioned,  one                                                               
surveyed the  children at age 15  and the other two  surveyed the                                                               
children at about age 21.                                                                                                       
4:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIDGETT  CHANDLER, Washington  State  Governor's Early  Learning                                                               
Council, began  by relating that  this new brain data  is showing                                                               
what  is  going  on  inside  of the  brain  and  confirming  what                                                               
educators and  parents have known  and observed for years:   "the                                                               
higher the quality of the  relationship that children are in, the                                                               
more likely  they are to  learn and  to remember and  to thrive."                                                               
Therefore,  it's all  about parents  and caregivers  who set  the                                                               
trajectory for  a child's  school and life  success.   She opined                                                               
that Alaska  has an incredible  opportunity with the  task force.                                                               
She  then presented  images of  brains  to show  how capable  and                                                               
vulnerable young children are and  how the early brain is growing                                                               
so  dramatically  quickly.    She highlighted  that  there  is  a                                                               
difference in  brain growth  with regard  to its  actual physical                                                               
size versus  development.   In the last  10 years  technology has                                                               
allowed  one to  observe operating  brains in  order to  obtain a                                                               
sense as to how rapidly  the connections form, how early learning                                                               
circuits are  there for  life, and how  later learning  builds on                                                               
top of those circuits.                                                                                                          
4:06:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CHANDLER  said that neuroscience further  relates that people                                                               
have an innate drive to discover  the world.  The human brain, as                                                               
compared  to other  brains, is  hugely undifferentiated  at birth                                                               
and thus most  of a human's brain development  occurs after birth                                                               
since  humans are  so  adaptive.   The  old  debate over  whether                                                               
nature or  nurture determines who a  human will be can  be put to                                                               
rest because it's the inextricable combination of the two.                                                                      
4:08:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CHANDLER related  that learning is taking place  in utero and                                                               
at  birth.   Furthermore, humans  are adapting  as they  develop,                                                               
especially in  the early years.   With regard to the  notion that                                                               
one  has all  the  brain cells  he/she will  have  at birth,  Ms.                                                               
Chandler pointed  out that there  is new evidence that  the brain                                                               
can  recruit cells  from other  parts of  the body  and grow  new                                                               
brain  cells in  response to  damage, disease,  and injury.   All                                                               
this data  illustrates that there  is a healthy pattern  in which                                                               
the proliferation of  connections peaks early in  life and tapers                                                               
as  the   brain  becomes  more  selective   and  reinforces  what                                                               
experience says is  important to master.  By nature  one looks to                                                               
others to determine how to act,  what is and isn't safe, and what                                                               
is and  isn't rewarded and  thus by our genetic  structure humans                                                               
are very good at learning via imitation.                                                                                        
4:10:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CHANDLER  reiterated that humans  are very adaptive and  at a                                                               
certain  point   every  brain  is   unique  due  to   the  unique                                                               
combination of  genes and experiences  by an individual.   Still,                                                               
there  are things  that are  known  to be  necessary for  optimal                                                               
development of children.  For  instance, the physical body of the                                                               
child needs to  be safe and in a situation  of adequate nutrition                                                               
and  health  care.    There  needs to  be  a  certain  amount  of                                                               
predictableness  in the  routine, particularly  in regard  to the                                                               
caregivers.   Without the aforementioned,  the body goes  into an                                                               
automatic  physiologic response  in which  the body  is told  its                                                               
survival is at stake.  It  is important to respond to the child's                                                               
basic need for care even if  it is difficult to ascertain what is                                                               
4:14:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CHANDLER,  in response  to Representative  Gatto, highlighted                                                               
the importance  in recognizing the  difference between  every day                                                               
stress such as not having a need  met right away or being told no                                                               
or to share and manageable but  large stress such as the death of                                                               
a pet or loved one, or  a natural disaster versus chronic ongoing                                                               
stress  resulting  from  abuse,   neglect,  substance  abuse,  or                                                               
depression.   The  nurturing relationships  buffer children,  she                                                               
noted.   She then  related research from  Meghan Gunner  (ph) who                                                               
reviewed  what happens  to children  in terms  of their  external                                                               
behavior  and their  internal  physiological  response when  they                                                               
experience  a stressful  event such  as  receiving a  shot.   For                                                               
instance, when  a child  with his/her  mother present  receives a                                                               
shot  at two  months of  age, the  cortical response  skyrockets.                                                               
Two months later,  at four months old the child,  with the mother                                                               
present  again,  receives a  shot,  but  this time  the  cortical                                                               
response is  half what it  was two months  prior.  The  child has                                                               
learned that his/her  mother will comfort him/her.   Ms. Chandler                                                               
informed  the committee  that there  is very  compelling evidence                                                               
that when  children are left to  manage stress on their  own, the                                                               
brain  goes  into  survival  mode and  the  child's  learning  is                                                               
compromised because the body is told that it's not safe.                                                                        
4:17:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO inquired  as to  when the  fight or  flight                                                               
response comes into play.                                                                                                       
MS. CHANDLER said  that the fight or flight response  can be seen                                                               
in  even a  two-month-old as  it's an  innate response.   If  the                                                               
fight or  flight response  is triggered too  often and  early on,                                                               
the brain sets  its "stress response thermostat" at  a much lower                                                               
level than  is optimal and  thus such  a child will  be triggered                                                               
into a stress  response more readily than a child  in a nurturing                                                               
relationship.   She  noted that  it doesn't  mean that  the child                                                               
can't learn good  techniques to manage stress, it  means that the                                                               
child has to work much harder to respond to normal stresses.                                                                    
4:19:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON inquired as to the  things that a parent can do that                                                               
will make a difference when the child goes to school.                                                                           
MS. CHANDLER  emphasized that everything  matters and  thus there                                                               
is a wide menu  of things from which to choose.   She opined that                                                               
public investment will do the most  good when done early and will                                                               
result  in the  most dramatic  gains when  focusing high  quality                                                               
resources  where the  need is  the most  vulnerable.   Therefore,                                                               
resources  can be  invested across  a broad  population and  send                                                               
generalized messages  regarding the  importance of  the nurturing                                                               
bond  for  parents to  provide  to  their  children and  to  have                                                               
information with regard to early  childhood development.  Another                                                               
important role  that government  can play is  to help  parents be                                                               
wise consumers  of child care  and other  learning opportunities.                                                               
She noted  that in  the State  of Washington  she is  leading the                                                               
effort  of  its  task  force  to develop  a  quality  rating  and                                                               
improvement system.                                                                                                             
4:22:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  remarked that  it  seems  Ms. Chandler  is                                                               
asking  parents  to  know  where  to draw  the  line  as  far  as                                                               
stimulating children enough without over stimulating them.                                                                      
MS. CHANDLER said that over stimulation  is a huge issue for very                                                               
well-intentioned parents.  In  further response to Representative                                                               
Gatto, Ms.  Chandler reminded the  committee that genes  are half                                                               
the equation and experience is the other half.                                                                                  
4:24:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON stated that it  would be helpful to receive                                                               
input from the  presenters as to what would be  helpful in moving                                                               
programs forward.   He encouraged  the presenters to  provide the                                                               
committee  with  an  outline  of   specifics,  such  as  specific                                                               
positions  or   tasks,  so  that   it  could  be   utilized  when                                                               
considering  funding  for the  budget.    He indicated  that  the                                                               
information is needed within the next two weeks.                                                                                
4:28:32 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee meeting                                                                
was adjourned at 4:29:01 PM.                                                                                                  

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