Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/12/1996 09:30 AM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 216 EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM TAPE 96-32 , SIDE A Number 001 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:30 a.m. and brought up HB 216 as the only order of business before the committee. He called a representative of the prime sponsor to testify. Number 017 ROGER POPPE, Aide to Representative Pete Kott, stated the bill would provide structure in the form of an educational technology fund to allow the state to pursue the development of educational technology. Initially it was proposed that the fund would have $10,000,000.00 in state general fund monies, but because of the present fiscal situation, other funding sources have been investigated. The federal government has just come up with a $2,000,000,000.00 educational technology grant program for matching funds. So what we would like to do is at least set up a structure to allow the state to receive federal and private funds. There is always the potential in the future that state funds will be contributed. The concept is important, because it is estimated that 25 percent of the 8,000,000 highest-paying jobs in the U.S. are high-tech jobs. MR. POPPE stated the Anchorage and Juneau school districts are in the process of voting bond funds for educational technology. Those school districts would be in a perfect position to have local matching funds already available for the federal money. That money would then generate three or four times its' actual impact in terms of technology programs. The department supports HB 216 and the fiscal notes are zero. Number 084 MR. POPPE stated the language putting more focus on the Department of Education being a central coordinator for educational technology programs was taken from similar legislation in other states. Number 102 CHICK BEEKLEY, President - Alaska Society for Technology in Education, Director of Technology for the Aleutians East Borough School District, testifying from Anchorage, stated both organizations support HB 216. There is a tremendous need for a mechanism for focusing resources that districts would individually not be able to access. HB 216 would allow educational organizations in the state to become part of a larger grant project in technology initiatives. Mr. Beckley sees this agency as one that could help standardize modes of technology training and planning within districts, instead of having a piece-meal approach to planning and implementation. Number 137 KAREN JORDAN, Juneau School District, Alaska Society for Technology in Education, testifying from Anchorage, stated there are many issues pertaining to educational technology in the State of Alaska. Ms. Jordan thinks the biggest issue is equity. There are some schools in the state that have many computers and other schools that have very few computers. For example, in Anchorage one school has a 4:1 student to computer ratio, while another school has a 178:1 student to computer ratio. Technology is not going to go away; it is a basic literacy. It's a very strong economic development issue. We need to provide a relevant environment for our students, and without technology, that will not be possible. HB 216 would coordinate efforts and save money by setting up a central clearing-house for information. Ms. Jordan encouraged passage of HB 216. Number 191 JASON OHLER, Director of the Educational Technology Program, University of Alaska, testifying from Anchorage, supported previous testimony. He stated that at the university level, they are involved in something called "Teaching-Learning Technology Round Table". The round table consists of students, faculty, and administration who put together a long-term plan for how to use and purchase technology at the university level. Students have communicated to the round table how absolutely essential it is for them to have computer skills in order to compete in the world of work. Mr. Ohler views education as a continuum from K-12 on through university. He supports previous testimony and urged passage of HB 216. Number 216 BRONK JORGENSEN, student - Tok High School, owner of a giftshop in Tok, testifying from Anchorage, stated the use of technology in rural Alaska is very important. The internet lets students access information from around the world. Mr. Jorgensen supports HB 216. Number 232 JED RUSYNIAK, Tok School, testifying from Anchorage, stated technology has been a large part of his highschool career. Computers, CD-Rom, and the internet have opened many doors for him to research possibilities. Technology helps him in his job as an advertising and marketing manager at a local business. He has also given technology training during inservices to teachers. He also teaches college technology courses with his father. Mr. Rushniak stated that technology connects rural Alaska to the rest of the world, so he urged passage of HB 216. Number 270 CARL ROSE, School Board Association, agrees with most of the previous testimony and supports HB 216. Mr. Rose thinks the future of the american dream will be tied to technology and information. So he thinks it's critical that we set some direction and some framework for our students, and he thinks HB 216 will do that. Number 283 SENATOR ELLIS stated he appreciates Mr. Rose's support of HB 216. He asked if Mr. Rose also supported the legislation that was sponsored by Representative Brown during a previous legislature. MR. ROSE responded they did support that legislation. Number 288 LARRY WIGET, Director of Government Relations for the Anchorage School District, stated his previous positions within the district were all relative to technology, and it is technology which enables him to perform his present position. The Anchorage School District supports HB 216, and it is a major priority of the Anchorage School Board and district administration. They believe that computer technology and communications technology are the instructional tools of the nineties, for students and teachers. A good example of that is the legislature's use of teleconferencing and the broadcast of committee meetings and floor sessions, both of which allow people to participate without being physically present at the capitol. These tools, in a state with such a diverse landscape and diverse population are exceptionally important. Access is also important in preparing students for work and is important for economic development. Number 311 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if the Anchorage School District has made much use of interactive video, where a person can see to whom they are talking. MR. WIGET replied it is an emerging technology, and is currently of limited use due to the high cost. Presently there is a little bit of access in the Anchorage School District. That technology has been used more at the state level and among the business community. It is an extremely viable technology, but we are currently hampered in utilizing it by our lack of resources. Number 322 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN stated he has heard the complaint that the technology is still fairly jerky. But he thinks those problems will be ironed out, and that the technology would be helpful in tapping into distance teaching. MR. WIGET agrees, and stated it makes no sense in a state such as Alaska that we are not utilizing the technology. We need to provide the technology to our students so we can have some kind of competitive basis which will draw people to the state. Today, accessing the information is the easy part, becoming discriminate users of that information is the key issue, and that is real learning. We're not just dealing with the mechanics of writing, but the essence of writing, which is thinking and putting those thoughts in a readable format. Computers make rewriting of documents a simpler process. He has discovered that once students become less fearful of having to rewrite a paper, students write better papers to begin with, and less corrections are made in the end. Access to technology provides all of us with a better means of communication. Number 365 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN acknowledged that former Senator Sturgulewski has joined the hearing, and stated she was welcome to join the committee at the table. ARLISS STURGULEWSKI, Co-Chair of the Technology Access Bill in Anchorage, and thought it was time for them to "get with it". But she could not add to what was being said. SENATOR ELLIS stated if he could get away with it, he would make a motion to grant voting privileges on the HESS Committee to Senator Sturgulewski. Number 375 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, Department of Education, supports HB 216. They believe that establishment of a technology fund is the first step in committing to funding for technology. Their concern is that no appropriation is made, though it does provide the framework for future donations from private businesses, appropriations from the state, and contributions from federal grants. The department plans to apply for funds from President Clinton's proposed $2,000,000,000.00 technology literacy challenge fund. The department envisions school districts applying for funds from the technology fund. Number 405 WILLIE ANDERSON, NEA-Alaska, supports HB 216. He agrees with many of the comments previously made. NEA-Alaska is disappointed that there are no state funds being appropriated for the technology program. It is important that the program is begun, and he urged passage of HB 216. The opportunity for private donations and grants is important. But he asked for state funds to be appropriated also. Number 418 VICE-CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if there was anyone else who wished to testify on HB 216. He stated the bill would not be moved today, because Chairman Green wishes to participate in that motion. Hearing no other comments on the bill, the vice-chairman adjourned the Senate Health, Education & Social Services Committee meeting at 10:00 a.m.