Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205


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01:51:44 PM Start
03:21:15 PM Adjourn
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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                               
                         April 19, 2006                                                                                         
                           1:51 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Fred Dyson, Chair                                                                                                       
Senator Gary Wilken, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW: The Whole Village Project                                                                                             
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 28                                                                                             
Relating to the innovative application of education technology                                                                  
tools to provide improved distance education programs in the                                                                    
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 281                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to interdistrict  operation of  public schools;                                                               
relating  to  enrollment  of students  by  school  districts  and                                                               
regional educational  attendance areas;  and relating  to charter                                                               
schools and correspondence programs."                                                                                           
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
Overview: The Whole Village Project                                                                                             
No previous action to record.                                                                                                   
BILL: SCR 28                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TECHNOLOGY FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION                                                                                  
SPONSOR(s): HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES                                                                                 
04/13/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/13/06       (S)       HES                                                                                                    
04/19/06       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                         
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Kerry Boyd                                                                                                                      
Yukon-Koyukuk School District                                                                                                   
4762 Old Airport Way                                                                                                            
Fairbanks, Alaska  99709-4456                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented the Whole Village Project                                                                       
Carl Knudsen                                                                                                                    
Former Superintendent                                                                                                           
Galena City School District                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SCR 28.                                                                           
Frank Odasz                                                                                                                     
Lone Eagle Consulting                                                                                                           
2200 Rebich Lane                                                                                                                
Dillon, Montana 59725                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support to SCR 28.                                                                           
Eric Downey, Business Manager                                                                                                   
Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership                                                                                      
1577 C Street, Suite 301                                                                                                        
Anchorage, AK 99501                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SCR 28.                                                                         
Dan Etulain, Sitka Alaska                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SCR 28.                                                                           
Fletcher Brown, Vice President of Communications                                                                                
DRS Technologies                                                                                                                
Technical and Management Services Corp.                                                                                         
310 K Street Suite 200                                                                                                          
Anchorage, AK  99501                                                                                                            
Phone: (907) 264-6689                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented information on technology related                                                              
to SCR 28.                                                                                                                      
Carl Rose, Executive Director                                                                                                   
1111 West 9th Street                                                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SCR 28.                                                                          
Wes Keller, Legislative Aide                                                                                                    
Staff to Senator Dyson                                                                                                          
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided information in support of SCR 28.                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR FRED DYSON  called the Senate Health,  Education and Social                                                             
Services  Standing  Committee meeting  to  order  at 1:51:44  PM.                                                             
Present  were Senators  Kim Elton,  Gary Wilken,  and Chair  Fred                                                               
Dyson. Senator Olson arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                    
              ^OVERVIEW: The Whole Village Project                                                                          
            SCR 28-TECHNOLOGY FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION                                                                        
CHAIR DYSON announced that SCR 28 was up for consideration.                                                                     
1:52:55 PM                                                                                                                    
KERRY  BOYD,  representing   the  Yukon-Koyukuk  School  district                                                               
(YKSD) and Alyeska Worldwide (AWW),  a non-profit formed by YKSD,                                                               
provided an  overview of the  Whole Village project, the  goal of                                                               
which  is  to  incorporate safety,  health,  education,  economic                                                               
development,   social   services,    culture,   government,   and                                                               
entertainment   to   create   a   comprehensive   program   using                                                               
communication technology to improve education in rural Alaska.                                                                  
1:56:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CARL  KNUDSEN, Former  Superintendent in  Galena School  District                                                               
(GSD),  said  that several  hundred  schools  in Alaska  are  not                                                               
meeting  federal  requirements  and face  federal  takeover.  GSD                                                               
implemented  a  new  training model  that  dramatically  improved                                                               
students'   test   results.   Any    training   model   must   be                                                               
collaborative, successful,  replicable, and sustainable,  and the                                                               
program developed in Galena meets  these criteria. He recommended                                                               
that rural districts work with  teachers and parents to create an                                                               
individual learning plan  (ILP) for every student,  and said that                                                               
using web based  software created for the  purpose, preparing and                                                               
administering ILP's is not difficult.                                                                                           
2:05:23 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANK ODASZ, Lone Eagle Consulting,  remarked that he founded the                                                               
Big  Sky Telegraph  Project in  1988 to  connect rural,  one-room                                                               
classrooms, and that in 1997  he did the first internet workshops                                                               
for the villages of the Yukon-Koyukuk School District.                                                                          
2:08:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   ODASZ  related   other  internet   programs  that   he  has                                                               
administered to illustrate  the opportunities for entrepreneurial                                                               
development in rural Alaska  using Information and Communications                                                               
Technology (ICT).                                                                                                               
2:14:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   ODASZ   said   that    the   developing   Alaskan   Village                                                               
Sustainability Action Plan  entails: ensuring educational success                                                               
for  native   youth  through   online  k-12   instruction,  youth                                                               
entrepreneurship and ecommerce,  culturally appropriate community                                                               
learning  including multi-generational  digital storytelling.  He                                                               
said  that  they  have  spoken   with  Junior  Achievement  about                                                               
partnering with  them to add  a youth e-commerce  and micro-loans                                                               
component to the program.                                                                                                       
2:16:33 PM                                                                                                                    
The   Alaska  Manufacturing   Extension  Partnership   (AMEP)  is                                                               
partnering  with  the Alaska  Native  Arts  Foundation to  create                                                               
sustainable  village  economies  through  global  e-marketing  of                                                               
Alaskan Native Art. Mr. Odasz  will be promoting new partnerships                                                               
with  23  countries  within  the next  week.  The  Whole  Village                                                               
concept  focuses on  creating a  fully integrated  community-wide                                                               
solution to raise  student achievement, which can be  used for e-                                                               
commerce training and cultural expression.                                                                                      
2:17:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIC DOWNEY,  Business Development Manager,  Alaska Manufacturing                                                               
Extension Partnership,  said that  part of  AMEP's mission  is to                                                               
create  rural economic  development, mostly  through the  sale of                                                               
native art.   His  organization believes  that the  Whole Village                                                               
project would vastly  decrease the cost of  training and economic                                                               
development throughout the state.                                                                                               
2:19:32 PM                                                                                                                    
He stressed  that education is  important for the  cultivation of                                                               
entrepreneurial  awareness  and  expertise  among  the  youth  of                                                               
Alaska and the world.                                                                                                           
2:20:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN  ETULAIN,  Sitka,  said  that he  dreams  of  establishing  a                                                               
community  TV  station  in  Anchorage,  with  statewide  delivery                                                               
through the Internet  and satellite broadcast.  He  said that the                                                               
programming  emphasis  would  be  on  interactive  education  and                                                               
entrepreneurship, and  that all of  the technology that  has been                                                               
presented  in  the  committee  could   be  augmented  through  TV                                                               
2:22:38 PM                                                                                                                    
FLETCHER  BROWN,   Vice  President  of  Communications   for  DRS                                                               
Technical  and  Management  Services Corporation  (TAMSCO),  said                                                               
that all of  the concepts presented by  previous speakers require                                                               
that  applicable and  effective information  can be  delivered to                                                               
people in the  villages when it is needed. He  offered his vision                                                               
of  pushing relevant  and critical  information  out to  villages                                                               
instantly and economically.                                                                                                     
2:24:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BROWN  provided information  about  his  company, which  was                                                               
founded   in  1982   and  certified   under  the   8(a)  Business                                                               
Development  Program as  a minority  business.  Today TAMSCO  has                                                               
over  900  employees  with  a   variety  of  officers  in  remote                                                               
countries.   Most  of  TAMSCO's  work is  for  the Department  of                                                               
Defense,  providing rapid-deployment  communications systems  for                                                               
use worldwide.  Since 1993 Mr.  Brown has been working  in Native                                                               
American and  Alaskan Native tribal development.  They brought up                                                               
communications to  37 villages on  the Yukon Delta  by satellite,                                                               
11 by microwave  and tied them into a new  satellite hub based in                                                               
Bethel. He  said that DRS  TAMSCO is currently building  a state-                                                               
of-the-art telephone  service using  voice Over  IP (VOIP)  to 50                                                               
villages on the Yukon Delta.                                                                                                    
He  said  that   bandwidth  alone  is  not  the   answer  to  the                                                               
communication  needs of  rural Alaska.  There are  more efficient                                                               
and  cost-effective   ways  to  transmit  information,   such  as                                                               
Internet  Protocol (IP),  which  allows multiple  users to  share                                                               
bandwidth,  but   when  transmitting  rich  media   content  this                                                               
solution falls down.                                                                                                            
2:28:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BROWN said  that buying  more  bandwidth is  not the  answer                                                               
because it is not affordable  or efficient, and because it cannot                                                               
deliver  truly interactive  and  rich multimedia.   The  solution                                                               
lies in using bandwidth-efficient  tools to improve functionality                                                               
through:    multi-casting,   collaboration    servers,   terminal                                                               
services,  digital  video  broadcasts,  and the  use  of  content                                                               
management systems.                                                                                                             
2:31:53 PM                                                                                                                    
He  said that  these systems  are not  widely used  in Alaska  at                                                               
present,  but his  company is  developing the  infrastructure for                                                               
them  in rural  Alaska now.   He  referenced a  slide on  virtual                                                               
content  management   systems  and  cited  examples   of  content                                                               
management systems currently in use.                                                                                            
2:35:03 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Brown  cited some areas  where these systems can  be applied,                                                               
including   education   for   at-risk   youth,   rural   economic                                                               
development, and the preservation of native culture.                                                                            
2:37:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON asked  Carl  Rose to  address  the committee  before                                                               
opening the floor to questions.                                                                                                 
CARL  ROSE,  Executive  Director, Association  of  Alaska  School                                                               
Boards (AASB), referenced  two documents that he  had provided to                                                               
the committee, a  schematic, and two pages  of bulleted comments.                                                               
He prefaced his  comments by referring to  Thomas Friedman's book                                                               
"The World  is Flat",  and its discussion  of the  convergence of                                                             
technology and events that has  affected everything in our world,                                                               
including education.                                                                                                            
2:39:47 PM                                                                                                                    
He said he is concerned that we  are spending all of our money on                                                               
education as  it is today,  and that  our current model  will not                                                               
prepare students  for the digital  future. He proposed  a digital                                                               
consortium  to help  Alaska  with an  investment  to put  digital                                                               
technology in our schools.                                                                                                      
2:42:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROSE  said that  his organization is  looking for  funding of                                                               
one third,  or $5  million each, from  federal, state,  and local                                                               
government.   He said  that the current  means of  acquisition is                                                               
not  well   coordinated  and  that   the  school   districts  are                                                               
attempting to consolidate the  acquisition process in partnership                                                               
with Apple Computer.                                                                                                            
2:44:17 PM                                                                                                                    
He referenced the  bulleted document and said that  it shows why,                                                               
how, and  when the  program will be  implemented.   He emphasized                                                               
the challenges and the threats  we face due to globalization, and                                                               
the need to prepare our children for a global economy.                                                                          
CHAIR DYSON  asked the witness  to explain how this  network will                                                               
affect K-12 education.                                                                                                          
MR. ROSE  said that it would  be a pilot program  to give Alaskan                                                               
students the opportunity to use technology for learning.                                                                        
CHAIR DYSON  asked if  this technology would  help a  student who                                                               
has  a  specific  learning  problem   to  access  a  teacher  who                                                               
specializes in the area needed?                                                                                                 
Mr. Rose said yes, that is true across the curriculum.                                                                          
2:46:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked how  this program  would help  provide choices                                                               
for the parents of children in failing schools in the state.                                                                    
MR. ROSE said  that he believes the program will  help with that,                                                               
but that Chair Dyson is beyond  where he is now with the program.                                                               
He is looking at pilots to  create levels of success so that they                                                               
can address  other issues at a  later date. The magnitude  of the                                                               
problem is so great that it cannot be dealt with all at once.                                                                   
CHAIR DYSON asked Wes Keller how  this kind of program could help                                                               
to  address some  of  the  other requirements  of  No Child  Left                                                               
Behind   (NCLB),  and   the  mandate   of  Alaska's   educational                                                               
2:49:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KELLER  said that Adequate  Yearly Progress (AYP),  and NCLB,                                                               
have called  to our attention  the fact that 203  Alaskan schools                                                               
are failing  in one area  or another. Among the  consequences for                                                               
not meeting  the standards are parental  choice, and supplemental                                                               
education services.  He referenced  a power-point presentation to                                                               
better answer the question.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  WILKEN  asked  Mr.  Rose  to  clarify  the  relationship                                                               
between  the  two  presentations  brought  before  the  committee                                                               
today.  If his  school  district decided  to  participate in  the                                                               
digital initiative,  would they  make the decision  regarding the                                                               
vendors and the systems?                                                                                                        
MR. ROSE said that the AASB,  as a non-profit private entity, has                                                               
taken full accountability  for the money they  are pursuing. AASB                                                               
and the Whole  Village project are not the same  entity; and if a                                                               
local school district were to  implement a digital program, local                                                               
control  would  determine the  vendor,  the  curriculum, and  the                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN  said that  his understanding  is that  the school                                                               
district  would choose  the tools  to use  to implement  the AASB                                                               
initiative, one of which might be the Whole Village.                                                                            
2:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ROSE said  yes. He  said that  AASB is  in partnership  with                                                               
Apple,   which  will   provide   the   hardware,  software,   the                                                               
peripherals,  the  professional   development  to  operate  those                                                               
systems  effectively and  the  technical  support. Other  vendors                                                               
will offer professional development for teaching and learning.                                                                  
2:52:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked how the  technology would solve half  a dozen,                                                               
significant problems that face the state today.                                                                                 
MR.  KELLER said  that the  median cost  of education  in Alaska,                                                               
just published  in SCR 28, is  $16,655 per student, which  is the                                                               
highest  in the  nation  due to  the extreme  cost  of our  rural                                                               
He  said that  the  National Assessment  of Educational  Progress                                                               
(NAEP), published in fall of  2005, shows that roughly 70 percent                                                               
of the nation's children are not proficient.                                                                                    
2:54:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KELLER  presented a  slide  of  the  AYP status  of  Alaskan                                                               
Schools and noted  that the number of Alaskan schools  at Level 5                                                               
is  increasing. The  implications of  each  level are:   Level  1                                                               
Alert  -  the school  must  seek  technical assistance  from  the                                                               
school  district  or  the  Department   of  Education  and  Early                                                               
Development (EED); Level 2 Improvement  - the school must provide                                                               
choice  or   Supplemental  Education  Services  (SES);   Level  3                                                               
Improvement - the school must provide  choice and SES, as well as                                                               
an improvement plan; Level 4  Corrective Action - the school must                                                               
offer choice  and SES, and make  one of six changes  ranging from                                                               
replacing  staff to  restructuring; Level  5 Restructuring  - the                                                               
school  must offer  choice  and SES,  and  take additional  steps                                                               
ranging from  replacing staff  to restructuring.  At Level  5 the                                                               
district must make a plan to prepare for alternative governance.                                                                
He stressed  that all  of the requirements  stated at  each level                                                               
could be addressed using applied educational technology.                                                                        
2:58:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KELLER presented  a slide  showing how  technology could  be                                                               
implemented to  assist failing schools  to meet  the requirements                                                               
that are  placed upon them.   For example, technology  would make                                                               
it  possible  for  children  in   diverse  locations  to  receive                                                               
tutoring from a gifted teacher,  allow teachers to work together,                                                               
and assist  districts with the  development of ILP's  through the                                                               
compilation of student records.                                                                                                 
3:02:33 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed some of the criticisms of the program, and                                                                         
referenced  a slide  showing  the number  of  schools with  small                                                               
student  populations, noting  that these  are our  most expensive                                                               
schools.   He said that  technology could  be used to  reduce the                                                               
cost of education in these schools.                                                                                             
3:06:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ROSE said  that technology  is not  the "silver  bullet", it                                                               
must be  introduced and perfected,  and we must have  system wide                                                               
proficiency to see the benefits of technology.                                                                                  
SENATOR  ELTON remarked  that while  we are  looking for  "silver                                                               
bullets", schools are  getting rid of ancillary  programs and are                                                               
teaching  to  the  NCLB tests.    He  said  that  we seem  to  be                                                               
Balkanizing our  funding sources,  that it might  be best  to add                                                               
all of  the money available  for specific program funding  to the                                                               
Base  Student  Allocation  (BSA),  and  give  the  districts  the                                                               
opportunity to  participate in Mr.  Rose's program,  for example.                                                               
He said that when he looks  at the Whole Village project and it's                                                               
mission, he realizes  that many schools are  removing those types                                                               
of programs and teaching to the test.                                                                                           
3:10:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KNUDSEN said that he supports  what Mr. Rose is trying to do,                                                               
but would  like to delineate the  two projects. He said  the AASB                                                               
project is  commendable and necessary,  because there will  be no                                                               
significant changes in the system  if the current funding and way                                                               
of operating  remain the same.  He said Mr. Rose's  project seeks                                                               
to demonstrate  that specific funding for  educational technology                                                               
can make a difference.                                                                                                          
He said  that the  Whole Village is  concerned about  the current                                                               
trend to  teach to the NCLB  tests to the exclusion  of all else.                                                               
The approach  he is proposing, and  what worked in Galena,  is to                                                               
train  teachers  to  integrate the  state  standards  into  their                                                               
lesson  plans  so  that  they   are  teaching  to  the  standards                                                               
represented on  the test, thereby improving  student achievement.                                                               
"We have to get away from  the concept that the curriculum is the                                                               
3:14:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON  said that  the  Whole  Village project  seems  to                                                               
include  a  lot of  programs  that  are  being removed  in  other                                                               
districts, such as  art and extra curricular  activities. He said                                                               
that  he agrees  that those  things are  important; but  he still                                                               
thinks that  the best thing to  do may be  to add to the  BSA and                                                               
let districts decide how to use those funds.                                                                                    
3:16:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KNUDSON replied  that over the past four years  we have added                                                               
34 percent to  educational funding, but it wasn't  enough. In his                                                               
experience, increasing  the BSA  will not  help unless  we change                                                               
the way the money is being used.                                                                                                
3:17:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON said  that his understanding of the  tools that these                                                               
programs are  proposing to  use is that  they will  free teachers                                                               
and students from the restrictions  of geographical location, and                                                               
reduce the  administrative duties that detract  from teaching, so                                                               
that children can enjoy learning.                                                                                               
3:20:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON adjourned the meeting at 3:21:15 PM.                                                                              

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