Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

04/18/2006 11:00 AM House EDUCATION

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11:12:32 AM Start
11:12:52 AM the Whole Village Project - Presented by Alyeska Worldwide
12:19:19 PM HB228
12:35:31 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ The Whole Village Project - Presented by TELECONFERENCED
Alyeska Worldwide
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION                                                                            
                         April 18, 2006                                                                                         
                           11:12 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Mark Neuman, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bill Thomas                                                                                                      
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Woodie Salmon                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
THE WHOLE VILLAGE PROJECT - PRESENTED BY ALYESKA WORLDWIDE                                                                      
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 228                                                                                                              
"An Act imposing a maximum pupil-teacher ratio for grades                                                                       
kindergarten through three in public schools."                                                                                  
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 228                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PUPIL-TEACHER RATIO GRADES K-3                                                                                     
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) HOLM                                                                                              
03/21/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/21/05       (H)       EDU, HES, FIN                                                                                          
05/03/05       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
05/03/05       (H)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
03/16/06       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
03/16/06       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed to 3/23/06>                                                                    
03/23/06       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
03/23/06       (H)       <Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 3/16/06>                                                                
04/18/06       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
KERRY BOYD, Director                                                                                                            
Alyeska Worldwide                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  hearing of  the Whole  Village                                                               
Project, provided  a brief overview  of the project  and answered                                                               
ERIC DOWNEY, Business Development Manager                                                                                       
Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Explained the importance  of rural economic                                                               
development and education in the Whole Village Project.                                                                         
DAN ETULAIN, Ph.D.                                                                                                              
North Star Television Network                                                                                                   
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  hearing of  the Whole  Village                                                               
Project,  highlighted   the  important   use  of   television  in                                                               
contributing to a healthy village.                                                                                              
JIM FOSTER, Chairman                                                                                                            
Worldwide IDEA, Inc.                                                                                                            
Laurel, Montana                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Described  the  effectiveness  of  school                                                               
improvement  models  and  Individual   Learning  Plans  (ILP)  in                                                               
advancing a child's education.                                                                                                  
FLETCHER BROWN, Vice President Communications                                                                                   
Polson Communications                                                                                                           
Polson, Montana                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  hearing on  the Whole  Village                                                               
Project,  representing  the  Technical  and  Management  Services                                                               
Corporation (DRS  TAMSCO), provided information and  solutions to                                                               
improving remote communications.                                                                                                
CARL ROSE, Executive Director                                                                                                   
Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB)                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  hearing on  the Whole  Village                                                               
Project, provided  information on  Digital Learning and  its role                                                               
in the project.                                                                                                                 
FRANK ODASZ, President                                                                                                          
Lone Eagle Consulting                                                                                                           
Dillon, Montana                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During the  hearing on  the Whole  Village                                                               
Project, provided information on broadband learning.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JIM HOLM                                                                                                         
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as sponsor of HB 228.                                                                            
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  MARK   NEUMAN  called  the  House   Special  Committee  on                                                             
Education  meeting  to order  at  11:12:32  AM.   Representatives                                                             
Neuman, Gatto, Gara, and Lynn were  present at the call to order.                                                               
Representatives Wilson, Thomas, and Salmon were excused.                                                                        
^THE WHOLE VILLAGE PROJECT - PRESENTED BY ALYESKA WORLDWIDE                                                                   
11:12:52 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
a presentation of the Whole  Village Project, an electronic means                                                               
of delivering education.                                                                                                        
11:13:34 AM                                                                                                                   
KERRY   BOYD,   Director,   Alyeska   Worldwide,   a   non-profit                                                               
organization formed  by the Yukon Koyukuk  School District, began                                                               
her slide presentation by listing  the eight necessary components                                                               
for  a  healthy village:    safety,  health, education,  economic                                                               
development,   social   services,    culture,   government,   and                                                               
[entertainment].    She  informed   the  committee  that  today's                                                               
meeting  would  focus primarily  on  the  education and  economic                                                               
development components.   She  explained that  the intent  of the                                                               
project is  to integrate  K-12 instruction  for Alaskan  youth to                                                               
include  entrepreneurship,  e-commerce,  culture,  and  community                                                               
learning strategies for rural villages.   To convey what [Alyeska                                                               
Worldwide]  believes  to  be the  foundation  for  creating  this                                                               
healthy village, she quoted,  "Planting seeds of entrepreneurship                                                               
must  begin  early  enough  in a  child's  primary  education  to                                                               
establish entrepreneurship  as a  lifelong choice."   She listed,                                                               
from Slide 3,  the focus of the organization:   education for at-                                                               
risk  Native youth  using proven  Individual Learning  Plan (ILP)                                                               
processes; rural  economic development with early  development of                                                               
entrepreneurial skills;  preservation of the Native  cultures and                                                               
providing  options   for  village  life;  and   content  delivery                                                               
networking to villages.  She  explained that Alyeska Worldwide is                                                               
the host  for the project  - one that  has many team  members and                                                               
[business]  supporters   -  and  then  introduced   them  to  the                                                               
11:17:10 AM                                                                                                                   
ERIC DOWNEY,  Business Development Manager,  Alaska Manufacturing                                                               
Extension Partnership,  informed the  committee that  the company                                                               
he  represents is  a  statewide  organization promoting  economic                                                               
development  through fee-base  business consulting  services with                                                               
existing  manufacturers.     He  noted  that   roughly  half  the                                                               
organization's mission is rural  economic development focusing on                                                               
e-commerce and  entrepreneurship through the sale  of Native art.                                                               
As  to  what  he,  a  businessman, is  "doing  with  a  bunch  of                                                               
educators,"  he  explained  that,  "we're  all  working  together                                                               
toward  healthy  and  sustainable communities,  whether  it's  in                                                               
safety,  health,  education,  economic  development,  governance,                                                               
culture,  social services,  and entertainment."   He  opined that                                                               
education  is the  foundation for  all of  this.   He highlighted                                                               
that not only are entrepreneurial  skills dependent upon educated                                                               
kids, they should  be fostered in the  primary grades, cultivated                                                               
in secondary grades, and modeled in  adult life.  He listed other                                                               
places in  the world where  entrepreneurship is present  and said                                                               
that  this state  is currently  raising its  first generation  of                                                               
digital   Alaskans.     Should  Alaska   wish  to   competitively                                                               
participate in the "new digital  economy, we need smart kids," he                                                               
11:19:41 AM                                                                                                                   
DAN ETULAIN,  Ph.D., North Star Television  Network, relayed that                                                               
with  30 years  of experience  in the  field of  education and  a                                                               
switch in  careers to  television, his  "[current] passion  is to                                                               
have  a rural  television  license."   He  expressed  that he  is                                                               
interested  in  having  stations  that  emphasize  education  and                                                               
entrepreneurship  and  opined that  television  can  play a  very                                                               
supportive part in providing the  eight necessary components of a                                                               
healthy village listed earlier by Ms. Boyd.                                                                                     
11:21:23 AM                                                                                                                   
JIM  FOSTER,  Chairman, Worldwide  IDEA,  Inc.,  referred to  his                                                               
former  career as  the assistant  superintendent  for the  Galena                                                               
City  School District  where his  primary  responsibility was  to                                                               
develop and implement  a school improvement model  to address the                                                               
extremely low test scores of students.   He explained that in the                                                               
model's development  stage, four major elements  were identified:                                                               
it  had   to  be   collaborative,  successful,   replicable,  and                                                               
sustainable.   Furthermore, he said  that it was  determined that                                                               
the teachers had  to be trained to teach differently  and that an                                                               
environment   had  to   be  created   where  students   could  be                                                               
successful.    Though  some  changes have  been  made  since  his                                                               
departure  there in  2003, he  highlighted  that [improved]  test                                                               
scores  have remained  consistent.   He directed  the committee's                                                               
attention to  a series  of slides  showing benchmark  test scores                                                               
for  Galena   students  as  being  "advanced"   or  "proficient,"                                                               
compared to  another village school  with test scores  "below" or                                                               
"not  proficient."    He  explained   that  the  following  slide                                                               
showcases  the  achievements  for those  students  attending  the                                                               
Galena   Interior   Learning    Academy   (GILA),   with   marked                                                               
improvements from  9th grade standards  based test scores  to the                                                               
12th grade Alaska  High School Qualifying Exam scores.   He said,                                                               
"Over 90 percent of the  kids are successful in reading, writing,                                                               
and math on  the High School Qualifying Exam."   He expressed his                                                               
belief  that  having  Individual  Learning Plans  (ILP)  for  all                                                               
students is important and that these  plans must be tied to state                                                               
standards.  In  conclusion, he listed possible  solutions for the                                                               
committee's consideration:  developing  an ILP model [statewide],                                                               
to replicate the success, and to track students.                                                                                
11:28:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO sought clarification  on which schools' test                                                               
scores were being compared.                                                                                                     
MR.  FOSTER explained  that the  slide compares  the Galena  City                                                               
School  District with  another  village school  that had  similar                                                               
test  scores prior  to implementation  of the  school improvement                                                               
model.   The  results show,  he  noted, that  "their test  scores                                                               
remained low and our test scores went up."                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked whether  the  military  base was  in                                                               
operation at the  time Mr. Foster worked in the  district and, if                                                               
so, whether military kids were a part of those students tested.                                                                 
MR. FOSTER said they were not  and that the military base was not                                                               
operational then.   He clarified that his work  with the district                                                               
began in  1997 and that  the school district is  approximately 85                                                               
percent  Alaska Native.   In  further response  to Representative                                                               
Gatto, he said he was not  aware that these students had a better                                                               
reading proficiency in another language,  and that the only other                                                               
language spoken there was by the elders and was Athabascan.                                                                     
11:30:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said  that he is intrigued by  the concept of                                                               
having an ILP  for each student and noted the  similarity of this                                                               
plan to  the Individual  Education Plan  (IEP) for  special needs                                                               
students.   However, he opined  that this would entail  "an awful                                                               
lot of  paperwork."  He then  inquired as to how  the ILP relates                                                               
to a teacher's classroom plan.                                                                                                  
MR.  FOSTER  said  he shared  Representative  Lynn's  dislike  of                                                               
paperwork.   He  highlighted that  his company,  in collaboration                                                               
with a  school district  in Idaho, has  designed a  web-based ILP                                                               
program  that  is   stored  electronically,  easily  manipulated,                                                               
collects data,  and doesn't hinder  the education process  or the                                                               
efforts teachers need to make in the classroom.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  inquired as to  what has happened  to report                                                               
cards as a measurement of [student achievement].                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  said he was  uncertain whether "report cards  are out                                                               
the  window."   However, he  highlighted  that one  key point  in                                                               
designing  the  school improvement  model  was  to focus  on  the                                                               
solution instead of the problem.   He went on to explain that the                                                               
term "dropout" has  a bad connotation because it  infers it's the                                                               
student's fault that  learning is not taking place.   He remarked                                                               
that  what  might  really  be  happening  is  that  students  are                                                               
actually  "force outs."   "We  know that  research tells  us that                                                               
giving kids  [low] grades ...  [does] not motivate kids  to learn                                                               
and yet we give those grades  [repeatedly] to all kinds of kids,"                                                               
he said.   Then he provided an example of  kids in primary grades                                                               
who, in  spite of scoring  at [only]  60 percent, are  advanced a                                                               
grade level  and noted  how this  [percentage] can  compound year                                                               
after year.   He  opined that  by the time  these kids  reach the                                                               
higher grades, they are "just forced out" and "have no success."                                                                
11:35:14 AM                                                                                                                   
FLETCHER   BROWN,   Vice    President,   Polson   Communications,                                                               
representing  the Technical  and Management  Services Corporation                                                               
(DRS  TAMSCO),  interjected to  say  that  it is  technologically                                                               
possible to not  only build ILPs for every student,  but to track                                                               
a student's  progress and ensure  that state standards  are being                                                               
met before allowing that student [to graduate].                                                                                 
11:35:55 AM                                                                                                                   
CARL  ROSE,  Executive  Director, Association  of  Alaska  School                                                               
Boards (AASB), relayed that the  association's efforts to build a                                                               
comprehensive delivery system  [entitled, "Consortium for Digital                                                               
Learning"], was  first presented  at the House  Special Committee                                                               
on Education meeting  on March 21, 2006.  He  noted that although                                                               
[some level  of] technology presently  exists in schools,  it has                                                               
not been instituted  in a systematic fashion which is  one of the                                                               
important goals of  the program.  He informed  the committee that                                                               
the association  is currently seeking  a $5  million contribution                                                               
from those schools  willing to enter the  consortium, which would                                                               
be matched by $5 million from  both the state legislature and the                                                               
Alaska congressional  delegation should  the board's  request for                                                               
appropriations  be  approved.   This  total  of $15  million,  he                                                               
explained, would fund approximately  10 classrooms in 21 schools,                                                               
with  25  participating  students,  or "technology  users."    He                                                               
opined that  a school's "readiness  for technology"  will largely                                                               
affect the costs  to implement the program.   He highlighted that                                                               
the  program is  more  than just  about  introducing hardware  in                                                               
classrooms;  it's about  engaging  the  community in  discussions                                                               
regarding  the benefit  of technology.   Once  the technology  is                                                               
made available, he  opined, the [the Whole  Village Project] will                                                               
answer what  can be  accessed through  technology to  serve kids.                                                               
He  relayed that  AASB  will be  responsible  for providing  "the                                                               
transparency  and  the   accountability"  for  identifying  those                                                               
schools who are ready [to implement Digital Learning].                                                                          
11:38:49 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN sought confirmation from  Mr. Rose that AASB intends                                                               
to work with the Whole Village  Project in its attempt to develop                                                               
new delivery systems throughout Alaska.                                                                                         
MR. ROSE offered his understanding  that whereas AASB is focusing                                                               
on the  delivery system itself,  the Whole Village  Project would                                                               
focus on  "the content"  that is  delivered through  the delivery                                                               
11:39:33 AM                                                                                                                   
FRANK  ODASZ,  President,  Lone Eagle  Consulting,  informed  the                                                               
committee  that he  is an  educator  and has  worked with  rural,                                                               
remote,  and  indigenous  learners  online  since  1988  when  he                                                               
created the  Big Sky Telegraph:   one of the first  rural, online                                                               
educational systems  in the country.   He explained that  when he                                                               
goes to the  villages, he works with preschool kids  on up to the                                                               
elders  teaching  digital  art,   music,  and  photography.    He                                                               
expressed his  belief that worldwide, "we  have technologies that                                                               
can allow  us to bring the  very best resources to  the villages"                                                               
and  highlighted some  of the  technological  successes in  these                                                               
areas.  He then provided the  committee with a demonstration of a                                                               
flipbook  software   program  which   he  opined   as  "instantly                                                               
motivating"  and  one that  easily  allows  anyone with  Internet                                                               
access to become a digital author.   He announced that he will be                                                               
presenting information,  in the near future,  on projects linking                                                               
world  communities  with  the  Internet and  to  the  subject  of                                                               
indigenous  broadband applications.   In  noting the  billions of                                                               
people  currently  and soon  to  be  online,  he noted  that  the                                                               
opportunity  is   there  to  gather  "the   very  best  broadband                                                               
applications  from  all around  the  world."   He  expressed  his                                                               
belief that the best broadband  application for Alaskans is self-                                                               
actualization  and  "helping  each learner  maximize  their  full                                                               
collective    potential    for    learning,    innovation,    and                                                               
collaboration."    Furthermore,  he  noted that  an  even  better                                                               
broadband  application would  be  one that  instantly keeps  pace                                                               
with progress  on the latest  indigenous Internet  innovations as                                                               
they  occur worldwide.    He  said he  has  been  told by  Alaska                                                               
teachers over the  years that it has been a  real struggle to use                                                               
technology in the  classroom due to the lack  of systemic support                                                               
that Mr. Rose referred to in his testimony.                                                                                     
MR. ODASZ  went on to  say that his  presence at this  meeting is                                                               
through  the  courtesy  of  the  Alaska  Manufacturing  Extension                                                               
Partnership  (AMEP),  an  organization  providing  assistance  in                                                               
establishing an  ecommerce portal  for the Rural  Alaskan Village                                                               
Ecommerce  Network (E-RAVEN).    He highlighted  that 18  village                                                               
ecommerce  centers have  been created  in the  past year  with 24                                                               
more  in  the  planning  stage -  all  engaged  in  participatory                                                               
research to  identify the best  ecommerce support system  for the                                                               
villages  and the  best combination  of educational  and economic                                                               
entrepreneurial activities.  He relayed  that AMEP and the Alaska                                                               
Native  Arts  Foundation  have partnered  to  create  sustainable                                                               
village  economies through  global e-marketing  of Alaska  Native                                                               
art.  He said over 722 artists have  signed up to date.  From his                                                               
slide presentation,  he listed several  key points of  the Alaska                                                               
Village  Sustainability Action  Plan and  summarized some  of the                                                               
key  challenges  [to  changing] Alaskan  governmental  policy  to                                                               
ensure all potential innovators  and entrepreneurs are motivated,                                                               
mentored, and  success stories  shared.   Referring to  his final                                                               
slide, he  indicated his  belief that, "'Build  it and  they will                                                               
come' has proved to be a field of dreams."                                                                                      
11:49:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN asked Mr. Odasz  to provide the cost of establishing                                                               
delivery systems in  Alaska.  Additionally, he  requested to know                                                               
the difference in  cost between a regular book  and an electronic                                                               
MR. ODASZ  explained that  Mr. Brown is  prepared to  address the                                                               
economics  and additionally  noted that  there are  dramatic cost                                                               
savings to  some of the  very latest technological advances.   In                                                               
response to  Representative Gatto, he  confirmed that his  use of                                                               
the  term "self-actualization"  is used  in the  same context  as                                                               
that coined by Abraham Maslow.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO opined  that with Maslow, self-actualization                                                               
is at  the very top  of hierarchal needs  and yet noted  that Mr.                                                               
Odasz has used the term in the context of "kids in a village."                                                                  
MR.  ODASZ expressed  his  belief  that "constructivist  learners                                                               
that take charge  of their own learning, are  what we're shooting                                                               
for in  education."   He relayed  that the  Internet is  one tool                                                               
that  can provide  people with  the opportunity  to individualize                                                               
their own learning  path and to find  specific information within                                                               
seconds of needing  it.  This dynamic "has everything  to do with                                                               
the general theme of self-actualization,"  he opined.  He went on                                                               
to say that with his  background in psychology, he has determined                                                               
that the problem teachers and  students face is one of motivation                                                               
and seeing relevance [in what  is taught].  He identified himself                                                               
as a  self-actualized learner, and  said he has learned  to teach                                                               
others on a worldwide basis.                                                                                                    
11:51:46 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  referred to  a program  used in  schools 20                                                               
years  ago called  "Program Learning,"  which initially  showed a                                                               
quick  improvement in  learning yet  was followed  by a  "drastic                                                               
decline" because  there was  no teacher involved.   He  asked Mr.                                                               
Odasz how this differs from programmed learning.                                                                                
MR.  ODASZ  opined  that  teachers  are  more  important  in  the                                                               
learning process than they've ever been.   He noted that there is                                                               
more  online collaboration  and teacher-student  interaction that                                                               
takes place  in the online  environment than general  takes place                                                               
in  a physical  classroom.    The intent  of  [the Whole  Village                                                               
Project] is  to have "the  very best of  both the online  and the                                                               
traditional classroom," he said.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN  remarked   that  he   uses  the   Internet                                                               
extensively for both his legislative and personal work.                                                                         
MR. ODASZ  informed the  committee that  Mr. Brown  would address                                                               
the challenge of expeditiously  bringing the best [technological]                                                               
capabilities to the people.                                                                                                     
11:53:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO, returning  to  the  earlier discussion  of                                                               
valuing teachers, inquired as to  whether there is any difference                                                               
between moms  and teachers.   He further defined his  question by                                                               
asking  whether it  would  be considered  nurturing  "just to  be                                                               
there for  kids as they  use the  digital experience" or  does it                                                               
have to be a teacher [providing the instruction].                                                                               
MR. ODASZ opined that the first  role in teaching is to teach the                                                               
love  of learning  which he  would  apply to  both [parents]  and                                                               
11:54:20 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he is trying to  determine whether this                                                               
is  a project  that  can actually  be  promoted this  legislative                                                               
session or  one that will  be just be heard.   He inquired  as to                                                               
whether or  not a proposal and  a request for funds  have already                                                               
been submitted.                                                                                                                 
MS.  BOYD clarified  that the  Whole Village  Project complements                                                               
Mr. Rose's Digital Learning program.   She informed the committee                                                               
that $2  million was requested  from the legislature and  that it                                                               
would complement  the amount Mr.  Rose has already  requested for                                                               
his initiative.   She  said that  Mr. Brown's  presentation would                                                               
address the technology infrastructure that  will be used for both                                                               
projects.  In further response  to Representative Gara, she noted                                                               
that  the request  for  funds  is not  currently  in  any of  the                                                               
budgets  submitted to  the legislature.   She  relayed that  they                                                               
have been presenting and seeking  support for their project about                                                               
once a month.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA expressed  his belief that if  a proposal has                                                               
merit,  it should  be  pushed  forward; however,  he  said it  is                                                               
unclear to him whether or  not this presentation will actually go                                                               
further than today's hearing.                                                                                                   
MS.  BOYD  said   that  they  hope  to  gain   momentum  and  the                                                               
committee's support.                                                                                                            
11:57:19 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. BROWN asked the committee  to envision every rural village in                                                               
Alaska being connected  in some type of network  that would allow                                                               
content, such as  voice, text, video, or rich media,  to be cost-                                                               
effectively moved  to every location.   He highlighted  that part                                                               
of  this vision  includes  "a  box" placed  at  the  hub of  each                                                               
village that  serves as the  primary point from which  data would                                                               
be extracted.   This  process, he  explained, is  called "content                                                               
delivery  networking" and  that  the most  cost-effective way  to                                                               
obtain  this "is  certainly  not  the traditional  communications                                                               
pipes that  are in place to  rural Alaska now which  is satellite                                                               
broadband."   He  then provided  background  information on  [DRS                                                               
TAMSCO] and relayed  that the company has been  in business since                                                               
1982, grown  to $330  million a  year, with  15 locations  in the                                                               
United  States   (U.S.),  and  8   offices  in   various  foreign                                                               
countries, primarily in remote and rural areas.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA requested  clarification from  Mr. Brown  on                                                               
what is  being proposed.   He asked whether the  project's intent                                                               
is to  address the slow  Internet access and downloads  in Alaska                                                               
and whether it aims to  provide every community with data systems                                                               
from which  educational information will be  extracted by trained                                                               
teachers for their students.                                                                                                    
11:59:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  BROWN  explained  that  whereas  this  is  correct  for  the                                                               
education  portion, it  does not  cover the  entire scope  of the                                                               
project  which  aims  to  address   "the  whole  healthy  village                                                               
concept"  from safety,  health, education,  economic development,                                                               
culture, social  services, legislative or government  issues, and                                                               
healthy  entertainment.    In  working  with  his  colleagues  at                                                               
Alyeska Worldwide, he  said he has learned that  focusing on only                                                               
one of  these components is  not adequate and that  a combination                                                               
is  required to  allow individuals  and villages  to prosper  and                                                               
grow.  He  went on to say  that since 1993, his  company has been                                                               
involved   in  rural   economic  development   and  has   brought                                                               
approximately  $750 million  worth of  business to  remote areas.                                                               
He highlighted that  the company's primary mission  is to deliver                                                               
global  communication   solutions  worldwide  and   directed  the                                                               
committee's attention to PowerPoint  slides showing the equipment                                                               
used  to transport  communications  equipment.   He showed  other                                                               
slides  featuring his  company's latest  project with  the Yukon-                                                               
Kuskokwim   Health   Corporation   (YKHC)   that   involved   the                                                               
installation  of a  satellite hub  connecting 37  remote villages                                                               
via satellite, and 11 by  microwave, into Bethel for telemedicine                                                               
and  video-conferencing purposes.   He  noted that  currently his                                                               
company is in the process  of implementing the largest Voice over                                                               
Internet Protocol  system (VoIP)  which will  be a  private phone                                                               
system for YKHC.                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  then turned  the discussion to  the bandwidth  used in                                                               
every Alaskan  village for  emailing and  Internet purposes.   He                                                               
explained  that whereas  the broadband  may be  adequately shared                                                               
for these purposes alone, it is  not capable of carrying the high                                                               
quality, rich media  "stuff that keep students  awake" because it                                                               
consumes too  much of  the available bandwidth.   He  opined that                                                               
"just  finding more  bandwidth is  absolutely and  positively not                                                               
the  answer"   because  there  isn't  enough   bandwidth  on  all                                                               
available satellites to  accomplish this, and the costs  to do so                                                               
are prohibitive.  Instead, he  explained that "by using something                                                               
called 'multicast,' we  can take a very rich  media content, move                                                               
it to  the satellite and  multicast it" allowing "as  many people                                                               
as you want within the footprint  of a satellite" to receive very                                                               
high-quality  information.   He added  that with  this stream  of                                                               
information, a menu of information  can also be sent to villages,                                                               
stored  in  "a  box,"  filed under  [the  eight  different  Whole                                                               
Village components],  and pulled for  viewing and reviewing  at a                                                               
later point  in time.  He  highlighted that other tools,  such as                                                               
collaboration  servers,  terminal   servers,  and  digital  video                                                               
broadcast,  can   be  used  to  multiply   the  effectiveness  of                                                               
bandwidth.   He  then  explained the  use  of content  management                                                               
systems, listing several  types of content such  as voice, video,                                                               
text, and  data, and the  variety of uses from  audio discussions                                                               
to  entire  websites.   He  proposed  that a  content  management                                                               
center is needed for each  of the aforementioned eight components                                                               
necessary  for  a healthy  village  and  also suggested  ways  to                                                               
multiply the effectiveness of previously purchased bandwidth.                                                                   
12:08:31 PM                                                                                                                   
MR. BROWN, in  response to Chair Neuman,  clarified that although                                                               
the  circuit-based technology  in Alaska  today is  moving toward                                                               
packet-based  technology,  it  could  be more  effective  if  the                                                               
individual  connections  for  people  could be  aggregated.    In                                                               
summary,  he  said what  is  being  proposed  is  to "set  up  an                                                               
architecture  that  allows  you  to  move  data  from  a  central                                                               
location, or  multiple locations  ... into the  hub, send  it up,                                                               
multicast it out to as  many villages as [deemed] necessary along                                                               
with [the menu  options] for live lectures,  with return channel,                                                               
and then  caching for future  reference."  He expressed  his wish                                                               
that people  move away  from contracting  for more  bandwidth and                                                               
instead contract for  "a function" to address project  needs.  He                                                               
further summarized the  key points of the  Whole Village Project:                                                               
Alaska Native  youth are  at risk; the  effectiveness of  the ILP                                                               
process;  having  rural  economic   development  built  into  the                                                               
curriculum; preserving the Native  culture through the process of                                                               
change;  and  content  delivery networking  to  make  information                                                               
accessible to  villages.   He noted the  final slide  which shows                                                               
the [four]  phases of this  project and  said that a  fifth phase                                                               
would show a "total success story"  in rural Alaska.  From there,                                                               
he  expressed his  [desire]  to  see the  project  move into  the                                                               
American Native  reservations where  the people "suffer  the same                                                               
social,  economic, and  educational problems  as do  rural Native                                                               
12:13:02 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  inquired  as  to whether  a  server  could                                                               
suffice  for delivery  of some  instructional  content and  "real                                                               
time"  instruction could  be used  when  students have  questions                                                               
about the information.                                                                                                          
MR. BROWN stated  his agreement that it is a  combination of both                                                               
live and cached content, and  then provided examples of combining                                                               
both.   Redirecting the discussion  to textbooks, he  opined that                                                               
there  is no  one book  that covers  all the  information in  the                                                               
state  standards.   He  expressed  his wish  to  see a  database,                                                               
created  over  time,  to  house  information  on  the  degree  of                                                               
effectiveness of a variety of textbooks.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  inquired as to whether  Mr. Brown's proposed                                                               
program wouldn't work  just as well in urban and  home schools as                                                               
in the  rural areas.   In noting  that rural districts  are "very                                                               
expensive  to  operate, he  asked  whether  some of  Mr.  Brown's                                                               
suggested changes  might result in  the consolidation of  some of                                                               
those districts.                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  apologized for excluding  the urban areas  and relayed                                                               
that the concept and costs would  apply the same for either.  For                                                               
home  school  students,  he  explained  that  through  use  of  a                                                               
wireless  network, the  cached content  is equally  accessible to                                                               
those home-schooled students.                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN  announced that today's presentation  of [improving]                                                               
delivery systems  "is just the  introduction and  hopefully we'll                                                               
be able to move forward on this ...."                                                                                           
MS. BOYD  informed the committee  that she would  provide further                                                               
information  as  needed  and  that a  funding  request  has  been                                                               
submitted to Senator Gary Wilken.                                                                                               
HB 228-PUPIL-TEACHER RATIO GRADES K-3                                                                                         
[Includes brief mention of HB 247.]                                                                                             
12:19:19 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  228, "An  Act imposing  a maximum  pupil-teacher                                                               
ratio for grades kindergarten through three in public schools."                                                                 
12:19:53 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JIM HOLM, Alaska  State Legislature, as sponsor of                                                               
HB 228, expressed his belief  that the education system in Alaska                                                               
is not satisfying  the educational needs of children  and that it                                                               
is structurally unsound.  He  highlighted that studies have shown                                                               
those children  who do not read  well by the third  grade are not                                                               
as  successful.   Even  with  technology  available to  them,  he                                                               
opined  that children  must learn  to think  for themselves.   He                                                               
relayed that  HB 228 would  change the pupil teacher  ratio (PTR)                                                               
in  the  lower  grades  and  could address  such  problems  as  a                                                               
teacher's  inability to  control the  classroom.   He noted  that                                                               
those  teachers who  must spend  more time  with unruly  students                                                               
have less time to teach  well-behaved students.  Additionally, he                                                               
remarked that lowering student numbers  would allow more time for                                                               
teachers to  spend with parents  at conferences.  He  provided an                                                               
example of one district's way  of addressing class size reduction                                                               
by highlighting  the Flex  schedule used  at the  Fairbanks North                                                               
Star Borough  Schools for some  of its kindergarten classes.   He                                                               
explained  that the  system  features two  small  class sizes  of                                                               
fewer  than 20  students -  one  in the  morning and  one in  the                                                               
afternoon -  with a  small, overlapping period  in the  middle of                                                               
the  day combining  all students  for such  activities as  lunch,                                                               
recess, music, or gym.  In  conclusion, he stated, "It's a simple                                                               
bill and yet it's not a simple problem."                                                                                        
12:27:21 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN referred to HB  247, Representative Croft's proposed                                                               
legislation on  class size reduction, presented  to the committee                                                               
last month.   In  response to  the possible  cost and  whether it                                                               
would be  another unfunded  mandate to  the school  districts, he                                                               
relayed  that Representative  Croft  had  informed the  committee                                                               
that  his legislation  involved voluntary  participation.   Chair                                                               
Neuman requested  Representative Holm provide the  committee with                                                               
comparisons between the  two bills and to address  whether or not                                                               
his legislation was an unfunded mandate.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM suggested he  would tell districts, "We won't                                                               
let you  not do  it."  He  opined that "[large  class size]  is a                                                               
singular  causation  of poor  performance"  and  that "it's  more                                                               
important to build those foundations  for those young children of                                                               
Alaska."   He expressed  his belief that  addressing this  is far                                                               
more  important than  consideration of  the cost  to do  so.   He                                                               
remarked that  up to 35  percent of funds  has been added  to the                                                               
system  but asked  whether  the funds  are  being directed  where                                                               
needed.    He expressed  his  belief  that with  the  performance                                                               
standards set by  No Child Left Behind (NCLB), "we  need to raise                                                               
the children's abilities,  and to [do this],  smaller class sizes                                                               
are  absolutely  imperative."   In  response  to  Chair  Neuman's                                                               
question regarding  the need  to add  teachers and  classrooms to                                                               
accommodate  any [overflow]  of  students, he  opined that  these                                                               
decisions  would have  to  be made  at the  district  level.   He                                                               
informed the committee  that his proposed class size  limit of 20                                                               
students is  higher than he'd  like because of  the ramifications                                                               
of costs to implement the change.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  commented on the number  of bills introduced                                                               
every  year to  address  lowering class  size  and the  available                                                               
research  showing that  class  size must  be  somewhere below  20                                                               
[students] in order to make a real difference.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM said  he  agrees with  this  and stated  his                                                               
interest in having the dialogue  that says, "this is something we                                                               
can fix; this  is something we legislatively can  set in policy."                                                               
He opined  that district decisions are  more apt to be  guided by                                                               
available funding  and yet priority  should be given  to ensuring                                                               
that performance standards are met.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GARA, in noting that  available research has shown                                                               
"merely reducing class size from 25  to 20 is an ineffective form                                                               
of implementation," said  that before large amounts  of funds are                                                               
spent, he  would like to  see the  legislation crafted in  such a                                                               
way to  ensure it would really  make a difference.   He expressed                                                               
his  hope  that Representative  Holm  would  consider drafting  a                                                               
sponsor substitute to reduce class size to 17 students.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  informed the committee  that he is  "not set                                                               
in  stone"  as to  what  the  actual  number is  and  appreciated                                                               
Representative Gara's suggestion.                                                                                               
CHAIR NEUMAN announced that HB 228 would be held over.                                                                          
12:35:31 PM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Education meeting was adjourned at 12:35                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects