Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/10/1993 01:40 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  The only order  of business that  came before the  committee                 
  was SB 61 (IMPLEMENT ALASKA 2000 RECOMMENDATIONS).                           
  VINCE BARRY, Director, Education Program Support, Department                 
  of  Education, was  first  to  testify.    He  informed  the                 
  committee that he was a principal for the Lake and Peninsula                 
  School District and was the  Superintendent of Tanana School                 
  District.   Mr. Barry referred  to the question  "What would                 
  you do to  improve education in  Alaska" and said first,  he                 
  would  pay  attention to  the  expectations of  the parents.                 
  Second, he would pay attention to the research in eduction -                 
   what works for  kids and how do  we know.  Third,  he would                 
  implement  the best  education practices that  have occurred                 
  throughout Alaska and the nation.  He informed the committee                 
  he has been  conducting a  survey over the  past nine  years                 
  throughout  Alaska.   He  asked the  same questions  to over                 
  2,000 parents,  "Is it your  expectation, as a  parent, that                 
  after  thirteen years in school your child would be prepared                 
  well enough  to go  on to  further education and  training."                 
  The 2,000 parents responded  "yes."  Mr. Barry said  he also                 
  asked several other questions such as:   Will students would                 
  be  prepared well  enough  to  subsist?   Will  students  be                 
  prepared  well  enough  to  be  trained  on  a  job  for  an                 
  apprenticeship?  Will  students be  prepared well enough  to                 
  get  into  the military?    Will students  be  prepared well                 
  enough to get into a vocational  two and four year programs?                 
  The   parents  said  "yes"  to  all  of  the  questions  and                 
  questioned  him  as to  what  percentage  of  the  kids  can                 
  currently do that.   He said the answer is  approximately 30                 
  percent nationwide.  Another 30 percent of  high school aged                 
  children  are  considered to  be  "in school  dropouts," and                 
  another 30  percent aren't  in school at  all.  The  last 10                 
  percent can be rearranged into the  three groups.  Mr. Barry                 
  said the task  is to move  up the middle  30 percent to  the                 
  higher 30  percent level  and keep  all of  the high  school                 
  students in  school.   He continued to  discuss research  in                 
  relation  to  middle  schools  and  the  "Equity  2000  Math                 
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER  referred to  Mr. Barry's  comment regarding                 
  moving the middle 30 percent of students to the higher level                 
  and asked if the task is to move up the middle 30 percent at                 
  the expense of  the top 30 percent.  Mr. Barry indicated the                 
  answer  is "no."    The task  is to  make  sure every  child                 
  receives an education that  is as good as an  education that                 
  any child in  the world receives.   He noted that  wonderful                 
  things are happening in many schools across the state.                       
  SENATOR SALO  said she  agrees wonderful  things are  taking                 
  place  in relation  to  school  reform  and  asked  how  the                 
  provisions  of Alaska 2000  and SB  61 fit  into that.   Mr.                 
  Barry explained Alaska  2000 is  one of  the most  wonderful                 
  things  to happen in his life in terms of thinking about the                 
  kids  in  the  State  of  Alaska  and  the  state  taking  a                 
  leadership role  in the  initiative.   He said  to him,  the                 
  promise  of  Alaska   2000  is  on  one   hand  100  percent                 
  expectation of the  parents and on the other  hand a 30, 40,                 
  50, 60 or 70  percent delivery system which is  a tremendous                 
  caesium  between  the  expectation of  the  parent  and what                 
  actually is occurring.   Alaska  2000 closes that  gap.   He                 
  also said Alaska 2000 is not a perfect approach to the needs                 
  of education, it is what the people think that we  should be                 
  taking a  look at.   It  doesn't preclude  us from  pursuing                 
  academic excellence in any arena.                                            
  Number 236                                                                   
  MARY  RUBADEAU,  Assistant   Superintendent,  Kenai   School                 
  District, referred to  the school improvement fund  and said                 
  she believes that out of all the  aspects of SB 61, this has                 
  the  most benefit  for  districts which  are  involved in  a                 
  significant  school restructuring and are at a lull in terms                 
  of being  able  to  provide the  resources.    Ms.  Rubadeau                 
  discussed  changing junior  high schools to  middle schools.                 
  She said  she would  like to  be able  to  apply for  school                 
  improvement money  and use it in a  research and development                 
  Ms. Rubadeau  explained that  the Kenai  School District  is                 
  currently looking  at "school  based decision  making" as  a                 
  process for school improvement.  A key to that is being able                 
  to feed some of the projects  through some resources such as                 
  grant money.  The  projects then could be used  or displayed                 
  at other schools.                                                            
  Ms.  Rubadeau  informed  the  committee  that  her  district                 
  supports the concept of increasing the  school term.  If the                 
  learning  time  is increased,  the  learning rate  will also                 
  increase.  The key would be the corresponding  fiscal notes.                 
  SENATOR SALO asked Ms. Rubadeau if she has information as to                 
  what the attendance patterns are in the Kenai District.  She                 
  said her point is  if there are a lot of  kids currently not                 
  in school the 180 days, making a 200 day requirement doesn't                 
  fix anything.  Ms. Rubadeau said she would send Senator Salo                 
  the attendance information.  She noted that the district had                 
  to compile the attendance information as part of  the school                 
  district report card  legislation.   The attendance rate  in                 
  the  Kenai District is very high  and in some schools, it is                 
  in  the  90 percent  range.    Senator Salo  asked  if extra                 
  curricular and school sponsored absences are included in the                 
  report.    Ms. Rubadeau  informed  the committee  that those                 
  absences aren't included because  they are excused  absences                 
  which are considered  an extension of the  program.  Senator                 
  Salo referred to all excused absences  and asked if they are                 
  not revealed in the statistics.  Ms. Rubadeau  explained the                 
  answer is "no."   Only the provision of extra  curricular is                 
  included as it is an extension of the program.                               
  Ms. Rubadeau referred to extending the school  year and said                 
  if there aren't corresponding revenues, they would basically                 
  be undermining existing programs.   She said she would  have                 
  difficulty supporting that provision.                                        
  Number 336                                                                   
  SENATOR  ELLIS referred to an  attachment to the fiscal note                 
  which read, "Sections  2 and 3  will result in a  cumulative                 
  increase of 20 school  days by the year 2000.   The existing                 
  public   school  foundation  statutes  do  not  fund  school                 
  districts on  the number of  school days.   Therefore, under                 
  the current law  there is no  impact on the state  operating                 
  budget if the number  of school days is increased."  He said                 
  he feels that  statement shows no  intention on the part  of                 
  the administration of  asking for  required funding to  make                 
  the 200  day school year a reality.   Senator Ellis noted he                 
  is a supporter of increasing the  school year.  Ms. Rubadeau                 
  said if there isn't corresponding  funding, she believes her                 
  district would be against the provision.                                     
  Ms. Rubadeau referred to tenure and  said she would send the                 
  committee  written  testimony.    She  then  continued   her                 
  testimony  with regard to charter schools.   The language in                 
  the bill  which  relates to  the  provision that  the  local                 
  school board would decide whether  a charter school proposal                 
  has  school district  backing is  good language.   She  said                 
  charter schools could be schools which provide opportunities                 
  to  go beyond  the provisions of  the local  public schools.                 
  What  needs   more  clarification  is   state  and   federal                 
  regulations  that would  be needed  to go  through a  waiver                 
  process.  She  said there  needs to be  some assurances  and                 
  more clarification as to what charter schools would do under                 
  district liability.   Ms. Rubadeau referred to  the language                 
  relating to advisory school boards and said she concurs with                 
  it.  She noted  that her school board has the provision that                 
  everyone of Kenai's local schools will have a parent group.                  
  Number 418                                                                   
  RICHARD KRONSBERG,  testifying from  Anchorage, referred  to                 
  the  section  of  the  bill  which  discusses  the fund  for                 
  improvement of public schools and said  it seems to have the                 
  most potential for  positive results.  However, it should be                 
  written into the law that the money will be used to  improve                 
  public  school performance and  will not  go outside  of the                 
  public school system.  Mr. Kronsberg referred to the  length                 
  of the school term and said  he would like to know what  the                 
  fiscal note would  be.   He said he  doesn't understand  the                 
  point of  adding more days for school  to be in session when                 
  there is currently  no requirement  that the student  attend                 
  school at all.  He said he would like to know  what evidence                 
  there  is  that  lengthening the  school  year  will improve                 
  student performance.    Mr. Kronsberg  referred to  advisory                 
  boards and said he  would like to  know what the extra  cost                 
  will  be.   He  said he  would  also like  to know  how many                 
  administrators or bureaucrats will be required to facilitate                 
  the work of the advisory boards.   Mr. Kronsberg referred to                 
  teacher tenure and said it seems the entire  thrust of it is                 
  to make the  tenure process  a political one  and to  reward                 
  members -  even  those who  don't  have a  regular  teaching                 
  certificate.   He said the  essential problem is that tenure                 
  will  now  become   a  matter  not  of   competence  but  of                 
  popularity.    Mr.  Kronsberg said  his  basic  concern with                 
  charter schools is there doesn't seem to be guarantees  that                 
  would  truly  ensure  equity  and  that would  prohibit  the                 
  establishment  of exclusive  private schools  funded  by the                 
  SENATOR SALO said currently the  tenure review process takes                 
  place  between  the employer  and  employee and  there  is a                 
  certain degree of confidentially that exists.  She asked Mr.                 
  Kronsberg  how he sees  the enactment  of the  tenure review                 
  committees  affecting  the confidentiality.    Mr. Kronsberg                 
  said  it seems  that  the operations  of  the tenure  review                 
  committees are outlined in the  proposed statute and totally                 
  undermine any confidentiality that might exist.   He said he                 
  believes the local tenure review committee  is a sham as the                 
  members serve at the pleasure of the school board.                           
  Number 497                                                                   
  DAVID SCHWANTES, testifying from Anchorage, explained he has                 
  taught school in Alaska for 28 years.  He said he thinks the                 
  bill  is  trying  to do  too  much  too  fast with  creating                 
  advisory  school  boards at  every school.     In Anchorage,                 
  there are  80  schools.    The cost  of  the  bill  will  be                 
  tremendous.   He indicated concern with putting a student on                 
  the local tenure  review committee as they aren't old enough                 
  to vote for a legislator or school board member and would be                 
  able to vote as to whether a teacher is going to have tenure                 
  or  not.  Mr.  Schwantes referred  to page  5, line  14, and                 
  asked if  there is  anything in  the bill  that prohibits  a                 
  member of the school board from serving on the tenure review                 
  committee.    He  referred  to  line  20  which  says,  "the                 
  committee  shall  meet  once  every  six months,"  and  said                 
  Anchorage would have a terrible time trying to deal with all                 
  the teachers that apply for tenure.  Mr. Schwantes continued                 
  to discuss concerns  of the tenure process  and indicated he                 
  is opposed to  having public testimony  on whether or not  a                 
  teacher  should receive  tenure.    He  asked what  kind  of                 
  training the members  of the  tenure review committees  will                 
  receive.  Mr.  Schwantes referred to the  legislation saying                 
  the teacher may apply  for tenure and asked what  happens if                 
  the teacher doesn't apply.                                                   
  Number 556                                                                   
  BONNIE BARBER, President,  Fairbanks Education  Association,                 
  expressed her concerns about increasing the school year with                 
  the  current  under  funding  of  the operating  budget  for                 
  TAPE 93-10, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  Ms. Barber referred to tenure and said she sees the creation                 
  of  a local tenure  review board as  politicizing the tenure                 
  process.  She referred to the bill and said  she doesn't see                 
  a direction  to develop  an objective  criteria to  evaluate                 
  competence,  nor  does  she  see  where  training  would  be                 
  provided for the  members of  the tenure review  committees.                 
  Ms. Barber  said the  legislation is  very confusing,  isn't                 
  clear, and  it  politicizes  a  process  that  needs  to  be                 
  objective and have  clear criteria.  She referred to charter                 
  schools and said  it seems  there is the  potential to  draw                 
  funding  away from the  local school districts.   Ms. Barber                 
  asked if the teachers who would teach in the charter schools                 
  would come from the  district.  The idea of  charter schools                 
  affecting the current funding of  schools is very worrisome,                 
  she concluded.                                                               
  Number 050                                                                   
  VERNON  MARSHALL, Executive  Director,  NEA-Alaska, said  he                 
  would  like to  echo some of  the points  that were  made by                 
  Claudia Douglas  at the  previous meeting  concerning Alaska                 
  2000.  He referred to the  work done during Alaska 2000  and                 
  said  he is  surprised that  SB 61  is the  only vehicle  to                 
  implement  the  changes.     Mr. Marshall  expressed concern                 
  about kids that  fall below the  age for admission into  the                 
  first grade.  He said  all that will be done is  a plan will                 
  be developed to  deal with early childhood education.  Plans                 
  are trivial and a commitment needs  to be made to adequately                 
  deal with  early  childhood.   He discussed  the subject  of                 
  students who have  dropped out  of school and  how it  isn't                 
  addressed  in  Alaska  2000.     Mr.  Marshall  referred  to                 
  overcrowded classrooms and  said determinations  need to  be                 
  made as to  how effective can reduced classes be in terms of                 
  allowing a teacher an opportunity to get closer  to children                 
  to  provide opportunities.  He discussed the increase in the                 
  school year, how  much it  will cost, and  factoring in  the                 
  costs  in relation  to  inflation.   Mr.  Marshall said  his                 
  organization   is  concerned  that  there  isn't  a  uniform                 
  starting date.   There is  a possible variance  from when  a                 
  school district would start.   He referred to teachers  that                 
  his organization  is encouraging  to go  back to  school and                 
  earn advanced degrees in their  areas and questioned whether                 
  they  would have enough time  during the summer  to do it if                 
  the school year is extended.                                                 
  CHAIRMAN RIEGER informed  Mr. Marshall  that there are  time                 
  constraints on the teleconference network and requested that                 
  he finish his testimony later in the meeting.                                
  Number 169                                                                   
  KATHI MCCORD, testifying  from Anchorage, said she  has been                 
  teaching  for  the Anchorage  School  District for  the last                 
  nineteen  years.    She  expressed  concern that  there  are                 
  several  areas  of  the  legislation  which  have  not  been                 
  addressed  fully.  Those  areas are tenure,  a longer school                 
  year, and charter schools.  Many items in SB 16 are negative                 
  and  she  doesn't  see  them  bringing added  incentive  for                 
  positive change  in education.   She referred to  tenure and                 
  said teachers  are  carefully and  extensively evaluated  by                 
  their administrator during their first two years of teaching                 
  to  determine  if they  should  qualify  for  tenure.   Most                 
  principals  have been  trained in  evaluation processes  and                 
  teaching methodology.   She said  their job is  not only  to                 
  evaluate, but to  help the  teacher to improve  if need  be.                 
  She  said  there will  be  a  need for  training  the public                 
  members if the tenure review committees are  set up.  If the                 
  legislature  feels that  tenure isn't  working, perhaps  the                 
  administrative  evaluation  process  is  what  needs  to  be                 
  changed.   Ms.  McCord  continued to  discuss  her views  in                 
  relation to tenure.                                                          
  Ms.  McCord referred  to  charter schools  and  said she  is                 
  surprised  that Department of  Education (DOE) would promote                 
  schools that are exempt from their own requirements.   Every                 
  public  school  must  live  by  DOE regulations  and  Alaska                 
  Statutes.   She referred  to the  funding aspect  of charter                 
  schools  and  asked if  the funding  would come  from public                 
  school budgets.  If the goal is really to improve education,                 
  give teachers  a meaningful  role in restructuring  schools.                 
  Don't promote unnecessary changes to the current system, she                 
  Number 221                                                                   
  PAMELA CONRAD was  next to testify on  SB 61.  She  said she                 
  has been teaching public school in Alaska for fifteen years.                 
  Ms.  Conrad said she doesn't see  any rationale for limiting                 
  tenure and  changing teacher evaluation procedures.   School                 
  administrators  have  the  responsibility   to  do  adequate                 
  evaluations and changing the tenure law will not change that                 
  responsibility.  She continued to discuss the current tenure                 
  law.  Ms. Conrad  referred to charter schools and  said they                 
  would have the option of restricting enrollment to the right                 
  type  of students  and mix  religion in  education all  with                 
  public funds which is unacceptable.   She explained she is a                 
  special  education  teacher and  she  has spoken  to several                 
  people who do  send their kids to private schools.  When she                 
  asked them why they choose private schools, their main reply                 
  was lower class size.  Ms. Conrad asked why  not give public                 
  schools the money so that class sizes can be brought down to                 
  a  more  desirable level.    She thanked  the  committee for                 
  listening to her testimony.                                                  
  JOHN  CYR,  a  teacher  at  Wasilla High  School,  expressed                 
  concern with the SB 61 and  the whole process.  He asked  if                 
  there would be extra funding for the extension of the school                 
  year.    He  also  asked  if   the  truancy  laws  would  be                 
  strengthened.   Wouldn't  it be  better to  ensure that  the                 
  children are in school now rather than  just lengthening the                 
  school year.  Mr. Cyr referred  to advisory boards and asked                 
  how they will be  funded and what  they will do to  district                 
  continuity.  He asked who will  pick the board members, what                 
  criteria will be used, and who will decide when advisory and                 
  local school boards come into conflict.   He referred to the                 
  area  of  evaluations  and  said  public  comment  endangers                 
  privacy rights.  Ms. Cyr said if tenure is denied, what will                 
  be the  school district's obligation.   Mr. Cyr  referred to                 
  charter schools and asked how charter school boards operate.                 
  He continued to  ask several questions  and said the  entire                 
  Alaska 2000  proposal seems  to be  an attempt  to fix  what                 
  isn't broken.                                                                
  VERNON   MARSHALL,   Executive  Director,   NEA-Alaska,  was                 
  requested  to come back  before the committee  to finish his                 
  testimony.    He said  his  organization has  some technical                 
  questions relative to the issues of tenure, charter schools,                 
  and  advisory  school  boards.   The  expansion  of parental                 
  involvement is very important, but we don't know that  these                 
  vehicles  accomplish  that.   Mr.  Marshall  said  there are                 
  several questions  in relation to  tenure.  He  continued to                 
  discussed  concerns  and asked  questions  about the  tenure                 
  process, the tenure  review board members, truancy,  charter                 
  schools, and equal access.  Mr.  Marshall said he would also                 
  submit several and questions and concerns in writing.                        
  TAPE 93-11, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  Mr. Marshall  referred to  the tenure  review committee  and                 
  said it would  be created by  the local board of  education.                 
  He asked  what the criteria would  be to become a  member of                 
  the committee.  He said he thinks  that a school board would                 
  select a committee that shares  similar concerns about their                 
  feeling regarding tenure and how it  should be applied.  The                 
  bill creates a two tier system of employees.  Those employed                 
  prior to  July 1,  1993,  are grandpersoned  into the  bill.                 
  Those who are  employed after July,  1, 1993, would go  into                 
  the  new system.   He said a person  could still be employed                 
  but  not  have  tenure.    They  would become  an  "at  will                 
  employee."  If that does happen, Alaska becomes a state that                 
  has virtually no  protection.  He said  there will not  be a                 
  "do  process  standards"  by  which   the  denial  would  be                 
  measured.   He  said  he doesn't  believe  that the  current                 
  process of tenure is automatic.   Mr. Marshall continued  to                 
  discuss the tenure section of the bill.                                      
  Number 133                                                                   
  CARL ROSE,  Executive Director, Association of Alaska School                 
  Boards, said his  organization's position  is in support  of                 
  Alaska 2000.   He indicated that there will be more in depth                 
  testimony on  the particulars  as the  association has  just                 
  concluded a  six region  - eight  district audio  conference                 
  network touching 49  out of 54  school districts in  gaining                 
  concurrence.   Mr. Rose said  he supported Alaska  2000 last                 
  November before the  final recommendations were made.   They                 
  also support  the concept  as it  has great  potential.   He                 
  indicated  that  the  association didn't  have  a  chance to                 
  address  their  concerns  with the  state  board  before the                 
  legislation was introduced.  Now  the association finds that                 
  they have to  address the  legislation and concerns  through                 
  the  committee  process.   He said  they  want to  shape the                 
  Alaska 2000 package to meet the needs of the kids.  Mr. Rose                 
  said  he  views  the components  of  Alaska  2000  as having                 
  positive potential.  Rather than look for all the answers in                 
  legislation, they feel that regulation will be a part of the                 
  effort as well.                                                              
  Mr.  Rose  referred  to  SB  61  and  said  there  are  many                 
  supporters of increasing  the school term, but  the point is                 
  to  increase  the  educational  opportunity.   He  said  his                 
  organization tends to think there is a class size problem, a                 
  unit increase is required, and  early childhood education is                 
  an area that should be reviewed.   He said he is in favor of                 
  flexibility in funding grants as  anything that can increase                 
  the educational opportunity  and school improvements at  the                 
  local level.   Mr. Rose said  there are some concerns  about                 
  the latitude which would be given  to outside groups as they                 
  are always concerned about public dollars being spent within                 
  the  framework  of  public  schools.    He referred  to  the                 
  establishment of advisory boards and said the idea is to get                 
  the public involved.  If the language causes people a lot of                 
  problems, then the language should be  fixed.  The intent of                 
  advisory boards is to include the public.                                    
  Mr.  Rose  referred to  the  establishment of  tenure review                 
  committees  and  said that  he  isn't  sure  that  a  review                 
  committee  to review  an administrator's  evaluation is  the                 
  Mr. Rose referred  to charter schools  and said as he  reads                 
  and understands  the legislation,  it would  all take  place                 
  under the auspices and direction of  the local school board.                 
  If  an  application is  made for  a  charter school  and the                 
  criteria isn't satisfied  or resources are pulled  away from                 
  the educational program,  the local school board  won't look                 
  kindly on that  kind of an  attempt.  With charter  schools,                 
  Mr.  Rose  said  he  sees  an  opportunity for  a  group  of                 
  educators to identify similar groups.  He said if a group of                 
  educators were to develop a program to satisfy the criteria,                 
  to  provide  curriculum  and assessments,  and  to  pursue a                 
  course  of  education  through the  public  schools  under a                 
  charter with  some flexibility, it  may attract some  of the                 
  people who aren't  interested to  coming to public  schools.                 
  He said he  doesn't look at charter  schools as a  threat as                 
  long as charter  schools aren't formed in  a private setting                 
  with public funds.                                                           
  Mr. Rose said there is a positive side to some of the things                 
  he sees in SB 61.   The Alaska Association of  School Boards                 
  chooses to take the  high road in hopes of helping shape the                 
  legislation to accomplish  those things.  He  explained that                 
  their focus group  will convene on Friday and  Saturday, and                 
  he will come back before the committee to testify on  SB 61.                 
  Mr. Rose said  the association supports  SB 61 and wants  to                 
  work to  shape the  legislation so  that it  has a  positive                 
  affect on kids.                                                              
  SENATOR SALO said she  is very interested in what  the focus                 
  groups have to  say about amending  the legislation to  more                 
  appropriately deal with what real education reform is needed                 
  in Alaska's schools.  There was discussion regarding charter                 
  schools by Senator Salo and Mr. Rose.                                        
  CHAIRMAN  RIEGER  requested  that  Mr.  Rose submit  written                 
  testimony and  indicated that the bill would  be back before                 
  the committee the  following Wednesday.   He also  requested                 
  that if  there are any  proposed amendments, they  should be                 
  submitted to him before the Wednesday meeting.                               

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