Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/10/2013 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 100-CORRESPONDENCE STUDY PROGRAM; ALLOTMENTS 8:29:15 AM CHAIR STEVENS announced that the next order of business would be SB 100. SENATOR DUNLEAVY, sponsor of SB 100, pointed out that SB 100 was another bill in a series of bills (including SB 89 and SJR 9) that he had put forward, and their approaches had a relationship that he wanted to explain before talking about SB 100. He said that SB 100 is a companion bill for SJR 9. When SJR 9 was introduced, a lot of assumptions were made that it was "the voucher bill," but the fact is that SB 89 is a voucher bill. This is when children can attend a private or religious, elementary or secondary, school and have costs funded by private business. SENATOR DUNLEAVY explained that SJR 9 will allow the current practice of everything from the Governor's scholarships to private public partnerships that the department and many school districts have; and SB 100 provides that opportunity for the home school/correspondence study programs that the state has been using for the past 10-15 years. At one point Galena created a statewide home school program that allowed families who did not want to be part of a "neighborhood school" to still be part of public education. So, the folks in Galena, and subsequently a dozen or more correspondence homeschool programs, have students in them that do not attend the neighborhood schools, but are in the public education system. He said that some people make a delineation between public schools and public education. Public schools are the buildings and everything that happens in them; public education is an expanded concept that includes homes schools, correspondence schools, charter schools and, potentially, cyber schools, and other methods to educate kids to a public purpose and public outcome. He said that SB 100 would be the companion concept to SJR 9; it is only two pages and addresses a child in a home correspondence school with an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) developed by a public teacher with the parent. The only difference is that the parent with the teacher can determine the "how" and an expansion of it. "In other words, it's public money and the public demands an outcome, a public purpose." Any student enrolled in this program still has to take the public assessments and be taught to public standards. The idea in SB 100 (in conjunction with SJR 9) is the "how." He said for example, a parent could decide his child would take a Latin course at Monroe Catholic and the teacher could agree to that in the ILP. That cannot be done currently under constitutional language. SB 100, along with SJR 9, allows a parent and a teacher to develop an ILP that includes a public/private partnership concept with a public outcome. The tax credit concept [in SB 89] is totally divorced from the public education concept; those are for folks that want to go to a private school, that gets private money through tax credits, and can have a religious or some other private outcome. All of SB 100 is part of public education. Students who are proficient or better in the public outcomes don't get changed, but students who are not proficient would have their ILP modified to help them become proficient. This is an expansion of the public education system using a public/private partnership concept, under an ILP developed between a parent and a teacher. 8:34:56 AM SENATOR GARDNER commented that if there is a tax benefit for donors, there is an impact on the state treasury; therefore, the state has a financial investment, also. She requested clarification about the language regarding the state's not being able to impose additional requirements. SENATOR DUNLEAVY replied that he was the administrator of a correspondence home school program. Many parents became interested in becoming a part of a public education system, but did not have enough of a say in their child's curriculum. 8:38:24 AM SENATOR GARDNER asked for an explanation of the purpose of having a credentialed teacher as a part of the team if the teacher is prohibited from using their best judgment. SENATOR DUNLEAVY called it a "third way" for education in Alaska. He explained that the educational needs of a proficient student are being met. If the public/private partnership is adopted there will be another way to provide education for students and expand choices. 8:41:12 AM SENATOR GARDNER voiced concern about credentialed teachers having to sign off on coursework that does not meet their standards. SENATOR DUNLEAVY clarified that they have to sign off on the ILP. SENATOR GARDNER said she was referring to a new teacher coming in and saying that ILP was not adequate. SENATOR DUNLEAVY said that was a good question, but if they are proficient by demonstrated assessments, his argument would be why anyone would want to focus on that and not support what was already working. SENATOR GARDNER suggested that excellence should be the goal. SENATOR DUNLEAVY replied that he would consider the suggestion. 8:42:36 AM MIKE HANLEY, Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), testified that the fiscal note and other issues still needed to be clarified. CHAIR STEVENS held SB 100 in committee.