Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/20/2009 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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08:58:02 AM Start
08:58:43 AM HB137
09:40:01 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 137-COMPACT: EDUCATION OF MILITARY CHILDREN                                                                                
8:58:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 137, "An Act  relating to an interstate compact on                                                               
educational opportunity  for military children; amending  Rules 4                                                               
and 24,  Alaska Rules  of Civil Procedure;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
8:59:30 AM                                                                                                                    
KAREN LIDSTER,  Staff, Representative John Coghill,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  speaking  on  behalf  of the  sponsor  of  HB  137,                                                               
Representative  Coghill, paraphrased  from the  following written                                                               
sponsor statement,  which read  as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     The purpose of  House Bill 137 is to  eliminate some of                                                                    
     the barriers  that face children of  military personnel                                                                    
     as they  transition from one school  system to another.                                                                    
     The average  student will move  from six to  nine times                                                                    
     from kindergarten to 12th grade.                                                                                           
     While  the armed  services has  done much  to ease  the                                                                    
     transition  for children  of military  personnel, there                                                                    
     is much that can be done  at the state and local levels                                                                    
     to  ensure that  these children  are afforded  the same                                                                    
     opportunities   for   educational  success   as   other                                                                    
     Alaska  enjoys a  close relationship  with our  service                                                                    
     men  and women  and their  families and  recognizes the                                                                    
     sacrifice and stress they face  with frequent moves and                                                                    
     deployment.   There  are  12,106  active duty  children                                                                    
     between the  ages of five  and 18 plus the  children of                                                                    
     active  members  of the  guard  and  reserve that  will                                                                    
     benefit from this compact.                                                                                                 
     Eleven  states   in  2008  adopted  this   compact  and                                                                    
     presently 22  states have  pending legislation  to join                                                                    
     the  compact.    Passing  this  legislation  will  help                                                                    
     remove some  of that  stress by providing  the children                                                                    
     timely enrollment as the children  move from one school                                                                    
     district to another.                                                                                                       
9:02:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON,  upon Ms. Lidster's  offer to review  the sectional                                                               
analysis of  HB 137, suggested  reviewing the  sectional analysis                                                               
at a later hearing, once public testimony has concluded.                                                                        
9:02:16 AM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS HINTON, Senior  State Liaison, Office of  the Deputy Under                                                               
Secretary of Defense,  U. S. Department of  Defense, related that                                                               
a few  years ago  the U.S. Department  of Defense  realized there                                                               
are a number of issues  impacting military families of the nation                                                               
that  the  federal  government couldn't  and  shouldn't  address.                                                               
Therefore, assistance  for military families was  sought from the                                                               
states,  which  have  been very  responsive.    This  legislation                                                               
addresses  an issue  that is  at the  top of  the list  of issues                                                               
impacting military  families.  Mr.  Hinton opined that this  is a                                                               
matter of  readiness.  In  other words, if military  personnel in                                                               
the  field are  worried about  how  their children  are doing  in                                                               
school, then  they don't  have their  mind on  the task  at hand.                                                               
Furthermore, if  the children of  military personnel  aren't well                                                               
cared  for,  personnel decide  to  leave  the  service.   As  was                                                               
mentioned,  11  states  joined   this  compact,  with  20  others                                                               
reviewing the possibility.  The  compact became active last year.                                                               
As of 2009 Mississippi joined  the compact and Virginia is poised                                                               
to join as well.  Mr.  Hinton explained that prior to the compact                                                               
school  transitions  for  military  children were  handled  on  a                                                               
state-by-state  and  even  a  district-by-district  basis,  which                                                               
proved  ineffective.   Therefore, the  transition between  states                                                               
was  problematic, which  led to  the realization  of the  need to                                                               
address the issue in a  comprehensive fashion.  After discovering                                                               
the vehicle of interstate compact,  in 2006 an advisory group was                                                               
formed that was  followed by a drafting group.   He mentioned the                                                               
following  interest  groups from  around  the  country that  were                                                               
involved, including:   National Association of  Elementary School                                                               
Principals, National Military  Family Association, Military Child                                                               
Education   Coalition,   National  School   Boards   Association,                                                               
National PTA, National Association  of State Boards of Education,                                                               
National   Education  Association,   Military  Impacted   Schools                                                               
Association,  and  Education  Commission   of  the  States.    In                                                               
conclusion,  Mr.  Hinton  expressed   his  appreciation  for  the                                                               
committee having  HB 137 on  its agenda and the  partnership with                                                               
the Council of State Governments (CSG) on this issue.                                                                           
9:10:34 AM                                                                                                                    
RICK MASTERS,  Special Council  for Interstate  Compacts, Council                                                               
of State Governments, informed the  committee that the Council of                                                               
State Governments  is dedicated  to the notion  that initiatives,                                                               
such as this proposed compact,  that are traditionally managed by                                                               
the states ought  to continue to be managed by  the states.  When                                                               
there is  a problem that transcends  the border of one  state and                                                               
requires  joint action,  it's preferable  to  do so  collectively                                                               
rather  than be  dictated by  the federal  government.   The U.S.                                                               
Department of  Defense agrees, he  noted.  Mr.  Masters mentioned                                                               
that he  has worked  on several  interstate compacts,  several of                                                               
which  have  been  considered  or adopted  by  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature.    Compacts,  he  explained,  allow  the  states  to                                                               
collectively make  decisions and  allow for  certain uniformities                                                               
unless the federal government preempts  the field.  In this case,                                                               
when  military  children  are moving  about  the  country,  these                                                               
children  encounter many  situations  in which  they  have to  be                                                               
transferred  from   one  public   school  district   to  another.                                                               
Although Alaska  and other states  are doing a very  credible job                                                               
within the  state, the  problem is  when the  transfer is  out of                                                               
state.  The  question is whether the military  child will receive                                                               
the  same accommodations  that Alaska  and other  states provide.                                                               
Therefore,  this  compact  seeks  to  solve  the  aforementioned.                                                               
Research  has  identified  the  following  four  areas  in  which                                                               
problems occur  for military children.   First, some  states have                                                               
enrollment requirements,  such as  requiring an  original record,                                                               
that delay  a student  beginning class.   The compact  would call                                                               
for the acceptance  of a copy/facsimile of a  record that appears                                                               
to be  genuine and  require the  certified credentials  within 10                                                               
days  of  the  student's  enrollment.    Second,  eligibility,  a                                                               
student  may enter  a school  too late  to participate  in school                                                               
activities/teams.   The  compact merely  requests that  the state                                                               
makes available  to a  student that  is otherwise  qualified, the                                                               
opportunity   to  participate   in  extracurricular   activities.                                                               
Third,  placement, a  student  is  placed at  the  same level  as                                                               
he/she was  placed in their  prior school.  This  compact doesn't                                                               
require  Alaska  or any  other  state  to accept  that  placement                                                               
without  question.   The  compact merely  says  that a  placement                                                               
issue  shouldn't  prevent  a  student from  enrolling.    Once  a                                                               
student is enrolled,  the student can be tested  to ensure proper                                                               
placement.    Fourth,  on-time  graduation is  one  of  the  most                                                               
important  goals of  military children.    Military children  may                                                               
face  a delayed  graduation  because they  don't  meet the  local                                                               
history requirement  studies or  other course  requirements, even                                                               
if such requirements were met in  the sending state.  The compact                                                               
seeks to accommodate  military students who move  in their junior                                                               
or  senior  year  in  order  to ensure  they  graduate  on  time.                                                               
Therefore,  the   compact  requests  that  the   receiving  state                                                               
substitute courses  and/or recognize some alternative  testing in                                                               
lieu  of an  exit exam,  when  possible.   If the  aforementioned                                                               
isn't possible,  the receiving  state is asked  to work  with the                                                               
sending state to ensure that  the student receives a diploma from                                                               
the sending state.                                                                                                              
9:16:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON   suggested  that  [the  tenets   of  this                                                               
proposed  compact] should  be carried  through for  all students,                                                               
not just military  students.  She pointed out that  any child who                                                               
has to  move a  lot would  face the  same challenges  as military                                                               
children.  She  encouraged CSG to review  helping other student's                                                               
transition between states.                                                                                                      
MR. MASTERS said that it's on CSG's radar screen.                                                                               
9:17:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH asked  if there  will be  a work  session on                                                               
this issue at the upcoming CSG meeting.                                                                                         
MR. MASTERS  related his belief  that this  issue will be  on the                                                               
agenda for upcoming CSG meetings.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH expressed  his  interest in  serving on  the                                                               
CSG, and he lobbied Mr. Masters for a recommendation.                                                                           
MR.  MASTERS   agreed  to  advocate  for   Representative  Buch's                                                               
participation with CSG.                                                                                                         
9:19:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK  SAN   SOUCI,  Regional   Liaison  for   Military  Families,                                                               
Northwest  Region,  Office  of  the  Deputy  Under  Secretary  of                                                               
Defense, U.S. Department  of Defense, said that  he is considered                                                               
Alaska's local  contact.  In response  to Representative Wilson's                                                               
comments,  Mr.  San  Souci  related  that  study  has  been  done                                                               
regarding whether  this interstate  compact should  be considered                                                               
for  all  children.   The  strategic  decision  was to  focus  on                                                               
military children now because military  children are different in                                                               
that they are moving because their  parents are doing so to serve                                                               
the nation.   However, he indicated that  this interstate compact                                                               
could be  leveraged to  pursue its  use in  the future  for other                                                               
children.  Mr.  San Souci then related some  anecdotal stories of                                                               
situations in which military children  were adversely impacted by                                                               
moving  to new  schools.   For  example, a  15-year-old girl  who                                                               
reached All  American cheerleader  status in Oklahoma  missed the                                                               
tryouts in the state to which  her family was transferred and was                                                               
unable to cheer.   The aforementioned is an example  of what this                                                               
compact is  trying to address.   He  then related a  situation in                                                               
which a boy passed the high  school qualifying exam in Texas, but                                                               
was told  upon moving to the  State of Washington that  he had to                                                               
take the high  school qualifying exam in Washington  and take all                                                               
the courses  required to  pass that  exam.   However, due  to the                                                               
extraordinary persistence  of the  parents, the  receiving school                                                               
district  waived   the  requirement  to  pass   its  high  school                                                               
qualifying  exam.   He  then  related a  situation  in which  the                                                               
interpretation of  grades between  states impacted a  young man's                                                               
ability  to  obtain  a  scholarship  for.    He  noted  that  the                                                               
committee packet  should also  include examples  in which  HB 137                                                               
would've been helpful.                                                                                                          
9:28:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  related her understanding that  HB 137 is                                                               
identical to  the proposals in  other states, save  the necessary                                                               
drafting style of the Alaska Statutes.                                                                                          
MR. MASTERS replied  yes it's materially the same  as the compact                                                               
adopted by  other states.   Mr. Masters related CSG's  support of                                                               
HB 137.                                                                                                                         
9:30:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HINTON related his and Mr. San Souci's support of HB 137.                                                                   
9:30:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON opined  that he is supportive  of military families.                                                               
He then noted that parents often  make decisions based on what is                                                               
good for their children.  Chair  Seaton stated his intent to hold                                                               
HB 137 to hear departmental testimony at a future meeting.                                                                      
9:31:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CAROL  COMEAU,   Superintendant,   Anchorage   School  District,                                                                
related  her  personal  support  for  HB  137.   She  noted  that                                                               
the  Anchorage   School  Board   has  drafted  a  resolution   in                                                               
support  of  this proposed   compact,  which  she hopes  will  be                                                               
approved.    She noted  that  she  has recommended   support  for                                                               
HB 137.   Upon  review  of the  compact,  she said  she believes                                                                
that  the proposed  compact  strengthens  the [Anchorage   School                                                               
District's]  commitment  to  continue to  implement  most of  the                                                               
practices  that  it  outlines.    Still,   the  compact  sends  a                                                               
very  strong   message   to  the  schools   in  the  state   that                                                               
military  families  deserve  consideration  and support  so  that                                                               
the  children  can  make successful   transitions.    She  agreed                                                               
with   earlier  testimony   that   parents  shouldn't   have   to                                                               
figure  out  how  to  navigate   the  system  and  advocate   for                                                               
their  children  regarding  issues   that [recur  with  military                                                                
children transitioning into new schools].                                                                                       
9:34:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  inquired  as  to  why  these  provisions                                                               
should not apply to all children.                                                                                               
MS.  COMEAU   indicated  her  agreement  with   earlier  comments                                                               
regarding focusing on  military children at this  time.  However,                                                               
she noted  that [the Anchorage  School District]  has implemented                                                               
similar  procedures   for  other   students  in   transition  and                                                               
recommended   further  discussion   with  the   Anchorage  School                                                               
District  and Anchorage  School Board  regarding other  students.                                                               
She  noted that  the Anchorage  School District  does offer  many                                                               
transition programs.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER pointed out that  it doesn't matter to the                                                               
child who  is moving from  school-to-school whether  it's because                                                               
of   military  assignments   or  not.     Either   way  a   child                                                               
transitioning from school-to-school "is in the same boat."                                                                      
MS. COMEAU said  that she didn't disagree, but  recalled from the                                                               
last military deployment  that there is a higher  level of stress                                                               
on military families.                                                                                                           
9:35:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON closed  public  testimony.   He  then reviewed  the                                                               
contents of the HB 137 packet.                                                                                                  
9:36:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH qualified his interest  in serving on CSG and                                                               
related that  the information he  learns affords him  the ability                                                               
to be a better advocate for students.                                                                                           
9:37:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON stated that HB 137 would be held.                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 137 support.pdf HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 137
HB0137A.pdf HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 137
HB137-EED-ESS-3-17-09.pdf HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 137
img-3191420-0001.pdf HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
img-3191549-0001.pdf HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
Sponsor statement HB 137.doc HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 137
Sectional HB 137.doc HEDC 3/20/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 137