Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/07/2001 01:37 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SB  64-HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA FOR CERTAIN WWII VETS                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  GENERAL  PHIL  OATES,  Commissioner   of  the  Department  of                                                            
Military and Veterans  Affairs (DMVA), stated that  SB 64 honors our                                                            
veterans and recognizes  the achievements that WWII veterans made to                                                            
our  country.   Some  15 states  have  already  enacted legislation                                                             
awarding high  school diplomas to  WWII veterans and 11 states  have                                                            
legislation  pending.  About 63,000  veterans live in Alaska  today;                                                            
about 10 percent of those  are WWII vets.  About 150 Alaska veterans                                                            
would be  eligible to  receive a  high school  diploma under  SB 64,                                                            
including Alaska's Territorial National Guard members.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB 64 applies  to WWII veterans  who dropped  out of high school  or                                                            
did not finish high school  because of their military service.  This                                                            
project is known nationally  as Operation Recognition.  During WWII,                                                            
many men  and women  left the comforts  of home  and high school  to                                                            
fight.   Later in  life, many wished  they had  received a  diploma.                                                            
Providing  one is  the least  we can  do as  a sign  of respect  and                                                            
recognition.   SB 64 will allow the  Alaska Department of  Education                                                            
and Early Development  (DOEED) to  award a diploma to WWII  veterans                                                            
who served  during the period from  August 7, 1940 to July  5, 1947.                                                            
Veterans with  a GED are also eligible.  He asked  committee members                                                            
to support the bill.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WARD joined the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  asked, tongue in cheek, "General Oates,  you know how                                                            
we've been  working for accountability  in our education  system, do                                                            
you think it  would be appropriate  to have these veterans  pass the                                                            
competency exam?"                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR GENERAL  OATES replied, "Senator Leman, since  we're not quite                                                            
to the  competency exam  period, I  think we'll  move with haste  at                                                            
this  time."   He added  he is  quite confident  that  all of  these                                                            
veterans have  exceeded the requirements  expected of a high  school                                                            
graduate.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WARD asked if  SB 64 applies  to the  Merchant Marines  who                                                            
were called to duty.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  GENERAL  OATES  said  it  does  as  they  are  recognized  as                                                            
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GREEN  announced  that  she sponsored  an  amendment  at  the                                                            
request  of DMVA.   The intent  of the  amendment is  to allow  WWII                                                            
veterans who later  received a general equivalency  diploma to apply                                                            
for a high school diploma.  It reads:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, lines 12-13, delete "or general equivalency diploma".                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WARD  moved  to  adopt  the  amendment.    There  being  no                                                            
discussion or objection, the motion carried.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further questions, SENATOR LEMAN moved  CSSB 64(HES)                                                            
from committee  with individual recommendations and  its zero fiscal                                                            
note.                                                                                                                           

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