Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

02/06/2015 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: TELECONFERENCED
ANSWERS (Alaska Navigator: Statewide Workforce
& Education-Related Statistics) by Stephanie
Butler, Director of Operations, Alaska
Postsecondary Education Commission
<Above Item Removed from Agenda>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HCR 2 AK SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHCR 2(EDC) Out of Committee
+= HB 30 CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY CURRICULUM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
             HB 30-CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY CURRICULUM                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:28:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                              
HOUSE BILL NO.  30, "An Act requiring school districts  to develop                                                              
and    require   completion    of    a   history    of    American                                                              
constitutionalism  curriculum   segment;  and  providing   for  an                                                              
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:28:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  recapped  HB  30,  stating  that  this  bill  would                                                              
require school districts  to include a segment of  curriculum as a                                                              
history requirement  that teaches the values the  founding fathers                                                              
had in mind at  the time that the Declaration  of Independence was                                                              
written,  such   as  the  Articles  of  Confederation   and  early                                                              
founding  documents that  were written in  an approximate  15-year                                                              
period.    He clarified  that  this  bill  does not  require  that                                                              
teachers advocate  for the values, but that the  curriculum review                                                              
and  understand the  values  when  our country  was  founded.   It                                                              
would be  inappropriate to  go beyond that,  he said.   He offered                                                              
his belief that  understanding the values that  caused our country                                                              
to happen  is very important and  should be part of  every child's                                                              
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   KELLER  said   he   personally  believes   that   American                                                              
constitutionalism provides  a level of freedom for  mankind, which                                                              
he finds  to be  the biggest  gift to  the world, emphasizing  the                                                              
importance  of rights  and  responsibilities.   Although  this  is                                                              
very important,  he also does not  want to imply that  the schools                                                              
and school districts  are not currently doing this.   He corrected                                                              
this  saying  he actually  believe  the  schools aren't  doing  an                                                              
adequate job  or he wouldn't bring  the bill forward;  however, he                                                              
is quick  to acknowledge  that there  are super  schools that  are                                                              
addressing  this.  He  recalled a  class called  in from  Houston,                                                              
Alaska, last  year, who  were very  knowledgeable on the  subject.                                                              
The implication  is that  the legislature  should monitor  this to                                                              
ensure that  this curriculum  is taught in  all of our  schools so                                                              
students  have  an understanding  of  how  government works.    He                                                              
didn't think  anyone would argue  that somehow [the  schools] have                                                              
lost  some  basic  civics  and the  general  public  is  sometimes                                                              
apathetic, not being able to identify their elected officials.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:32:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER referred  members to Section 3 of HB  30, which read,                                                              
as follows:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     (a)  The   chief  school   administrator  of  a   school                                                                   
     district  shall  develop  and submit  to  the  governing                                                                   
     body of  a school district  for approval a  syllabus for                                                                   
     a  curriculum   segment  in  the  history   of  American                                                                   
     constitutionalism to  be taught to all students  [in the                                                                   
     enrolled  in the district.   An  approved syllabus  must                                                                   
     ensure  a  student's  understanding of  the  history  of                                                                   
     American   constitutionalism   as   portrayed   in   the                                                                   
     Declaration   of    Independence,   the    first   state                                                                   
     constitutions,   the  Articles  of  Confederation,   the                                                                   
     Constitution  of  the  United   States,  the  Federalist                                                                   
     Papers,  the  Bill  of  Rights,   and  other  historical                                                                   
     documents    produced   in    the   founding   of    our                                                                   
     constitutional republic model of government.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     (b)  A  district  may  not   issue  a  secondary  school                                                                   
     diploma   to  a  student   who  does  not   successfully                                                                   
     complete  the course  in  which the  curriculum  segment                                                                   
     described  in  (a)  of  this  section  is  contained.  A                                                                   
     school  district   may  not  grant  a  waiver   of  this                                                                   
     requirement.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:33:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  emphasized  that  the  curriculum  segment  can  be                                                              
inserted  in existing  courses.   As sponsor,  his intent is  that                                                              
the district has  the option to include the curriculum  segment in                                                              
a  history,   civics,  or  other   course,  but  must   contain  a                                                              
curriculum segment  in the history of American  constitutionalism.                                                              
The  state  would   not  require  testing,  he   said.    Instead,                                                              
districts must put  the curriculum in place and  be satisfied that                                                              
students  have  successfully  completed   the  curriculum  to  the                                                              
district's standards  so it does  not create an imposition  on the                                                              
testing  program.   He said  this  would be  considered a  mandate                                                              
since the statute  will require every student to  receive and pass                                                              
the   curriculum    segment   in    the   history   of    American                                                              
constitutionalism.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:35:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  said  that  Commissioner   Hanley  brought  to  his                                                              
attention that  under the bill a  waiver may not be granted  as to                                                              
whether  a  student has  successfully  completed  the  curriculum;                                                              
however,  it leaves  authority  with the  district.   He  recalled                                                              
that [waiver language] was in prior bills on this subject.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:35:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to page  2, line 16 of HB  30, and                                                              
asked whether  any other provisions  in statute require  the chief                                                              
administrator  to develop  the curriculum  and syllabus.   He  did                                                              
not  think  this  represents  the   normal  method  of  developing                                                              
curricula  in  schools.   He  asked  whether  bill will  create  a                                                              
different model  for local  schools in terms  of their  ability to                                                              
have local control over their curriculum to teach the standards.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:36:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER,  as  sponsor,  said  the  intent  is  to  have  the                                                              
curriculum segment  developed like  any other curriculum  segment,                                                              
and the  legislature has given  the districts the  responsibility.                                                              
He  said   some  districts  use   committees  to   evaluate  their                                                              
curriculum.   He did not envision  that a new model would  be used                                                              
to  implement   the  American   constitutionalism  segment   in  a                                                              
district's curriculum.   The language  is designed to  ensure that                                                              
the superintendent  is responsible for  getting this done,  but in                                                              
his   view  the   superintendent   could  delegate   this  to   an                                                              
appropriate entity within a committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:37:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM  POUND,   Staff,  Representative  Wes  Keller,   Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature,  on  behalf  of  one of  the  joint  prime  sponsors,                                                              
agreed that  most districts operate  from their superintendent  or                                                              
school  administrator  who provide  the  curriculum.   He  offered                                                              
that saying  one individual writes  the curriculum is  like saying                                                              
one  person  writes  a  bill  and   that  doesn't  really  happen.                                                              
Instead, it is a delegated authority, he said.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:38:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON stated  his interest  is for the  structure                                                              
of the  bill to parallel  the current  process.  Currently,  local                                                              
school  boards control  curriculum,  but  the bill  elevates  that                                                              
specific charge to  a school chief administrator  who will develop                                                              
the  curriculum segment  and submit  it  to the  school board  for                                                              
approval.   He  asked whether  the sponsor  will consider  another                                                              
process,  such  as  the school  board  approving  what  the  chief                                                              
administrator  has  developed  instead   of  requiring  the  local                                                              
district as  the school  board to develop  the curriculum  for the                                                              
school.  He pointed  out the language in the bill  doesn't seem to                                                              
parallel the current process.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:39:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER,  speaking as sponsor  of HB 30,  said it is  not his                                                              
intent to develop  a new process  for this bill.  While  it states                                                              
the "chief school  administrator shall develop" it  also adds "and                                                              
submit to the governing  body of a school district  for approval a                                                              
syllabus  for a  curriculum  segment in  the  history of  American                                                              
constitutionalism  ...." The  pattern exists,  he offered,  and he                                                              
believes it's  appropriate to place  the responsibility on  the on                                                              
the superintendent,  but he would  consider a suggested  change to                                                              
the language.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:40:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  said she  was  a little  confused  since                                                              
Section  3  of  the sponsor's  memorandum  [of  January  21,  2015                                                              
provides  a  sectional  analysis  for HB  30]  and  reads,  "Local                                                              
school districts  will establish a  one semester course  and final                                                              
exam that  represents one-half  credit during  the senior  year of                                                              
high school ...."   She referred to page 2, line 15  of HB 30, [to                                                              
proposed Sec. 14.14.095],  that refers throughout  to a curriculum                                                              
segment and  the course.  She referred  to page 2, line  26, which                                                              
read, "the course  in which a curriculum segment  described in (a)                                                              
of this  section is contained."   Thus,  the memo does  not appear                                                              
to represent  the  language in  HB 30  in its current  form.   She                                                              
related her understanding  that the sponsor's intent  is to simply                                                              
add to the  existing history curriculum that the  school districts                                                              
are  already presenting,  but  it  would not  add  a one  semester                                                              
course.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND answered  that it  was  an error  on his  part and  the                                                              
language has  been deleted  from new  sectional.  He  acknowledged                                                              
that members  did not  yet have  the new  sectional analysis,  but                                                              
the language relating to the senior year has been deleted.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER   appreciated  his   staff  taking   responsibility;                                                              
however,  he characterized  this bill  as being  "a perfect  bill"                                                              
since  it  has been  previously  vetted.    He remarked  that  the                                                              
paperwork just hasn't kept up with the vetting.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND wanted to  be sure the  memo is  not part                                                              
of  the record.    She related  her  understanding  that that  the                                                              
sponsor's  bill recommends  a curriculum  segment  related to  the                                                              
history of the country as part of the curriculum.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  responded  that  the  sectional  analysis  will  be                                                              
updated to match the language in the bill.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:43:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND referred  to line  page 2, line  [16-17],                                                              
which read, "the  chief school administrator of  a school district                                                              
shall  develop  and submit  to  the  governing  body of  a  school                                                              
district for approval  a syllabus for a curriculum  segment in the                                                              
history  of  American  constitutionalism  ...."    She  asked  for                                                              
further clarification  on what will  happen if the  governing body                                                              
chooses not to approve it.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER  remarked that  the bill doesn't  get to  that level.                                                              
He assumed  local school district would  work it out.   He did not                                                              
think this introduces  confusion.  He agreed that  if the syllabus                                                              
wasn't  approved  there  will be  trouble  under  subsection  (b),                                                              
since the district  can't issue a diploma unless  the district can                                                              
establishing that the  requirement has been met.   He offered that                                                              
the school  district will  likely be motivated  to go  through the                                                              
process required to get the approval.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:44:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD stated  that she  had a couple  questions                                                              
on the resolution,  but she had issues  with the audio.   She said                                                              
she is listening to the hearing.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:45:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON referred to  page 2,  line 19, which  read,                                                              
"An approved  syllabus must  ensure a  student's understanding  of                                                              
the history of  American constitutionalism ...."  On  page 2, line                                                              
27-28, reads,  "A school district may  not grant a waiver  of this                                                              
requirement."      He  was   trying   to  understand   how   these                                                              
requirements  will be  met without  requiring an  assessment.   He                                                              
recalled  the sponsor  indicating  each  school district  did  not                                                              
need to grant a  waiver because there isn't any  requirement for a                                                              
test.  He  surmised that that teachers ensure  students understand                                                              
the history  by using  the syllabus;  however, he also  recognized                                                              
that this  provision adds a  "high stakes" graduation  requirement                                                              
that cannot be waived.   He envisioned a district  would provide a                                                              
one  week  or other  segment  of  the  aforementioned  curriculum,                                                              
verify that all  students attended the class,  and thereby satisfy                                                              
the  criteria  and  be  eligible  for graduation.    He  said  the                                                              
parameters seem to be somewhat in conflict.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER answered  that the syllabus outlines the  course.  He                                                              
said, the language  will "ensure a student's understanding  of the                                                              
history"  is  written  from  a  perspective  of  a  teacher.    He                                                              
envisioned  that teachers  will give  an initial  oral or  written                                                              
test, use  lesson plans,  and test  students to  determine  if the                                                              
teacher has been  successful or not.  He referred  to page 2, line                                                              
26, to  the standard for the  district, which requires  successful                                                              
completion of the  course.  He offered his belief  the language in                                                              
HB 30 is  clear, but was open  to considering language  that would                                                              
further clarify the bill.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:48:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked whether  the syllabus is  required to                                                              
ensure  that the  student  has had  access  to  material for  that                                                              
portion of the  course.  Since districts cannot  grant waivers, it                                                              
means  that students  must  successfully  complete  or attend  the                                                              
course  but  won't  be  required  to  demonstrate  any  particular                                                              
knowledge related to the syllabus.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER replied  that he couldn't imagine  any caring teacher                                                              
wanting to [pass  students who don't understand  the material] but                                                              
it's  possible in  any program  to fill  out forms  or reports  to                                                              
slide  through   requirements  in   state  law;  however,   he  is                                                              
operating  under  the presumption  that  teachers,  students,  and                                                              
parents, in  good faith, want  [American constitutionalism]  to be                                                              
taught in Alaska's  schools.  He  said he is not concerned  that a                                                              
district might  just "check a box"  that the student  attended the                                                              
class every day, but of course, it is possible.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:50:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  expressed concern,  in  part,  due to  the                                                              
number  of  special  education  students.   Since  HB  30  has  an                                                              
explicit  provision that  districts cannot  grant waivers  to this                                                              
section,  he wanted  to  ensure that  the  sponsor's intention  is                                                              
that   all  students   must  demonstrate   a   certain  level   of                                                              
understanding  of   the  material,  including   special  education                                                              
students  and  English  [as  a  second]  language  students.    He                                                              
understood  the  sponsor's  intent   is  to  allow  districts  the                                                              
latitude  to determine how  students demonstrate  completion  of a                                                              
course, which is acceptable within the parameters of this bill.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER said that is the way he understands it.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD,  in response to a question,  said she did                                                              
not have any questions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:51:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER opened public testimony on HB 30.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:52:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STUART  THOMPSON   read  his   testimony,  as  follows   [original                                                              
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Greetings to  the Chairman and all members  of the House                                                                   
     Education Committee.  I speak  for myself, a  District 8                                                                   
     citizen,  for passage  of HB  30 Constitutional  History                                                                   
     Curriculum.  I pray  for committee  compassion.  Despite                                                                   
     hours of struggle,  my prepared testimony still  lasts 3                                                                   
     and  a  half  minutes. Hearing  Chairman,  may  I  still                                                                   
     testify? Thank you.  Start of my testimony.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:52:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMPSON continued reading his written testimony, as                                                                        
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     It's  a  well  known  concept   that  knowledge  enables                                                                   
     competent  change and problem  solving. It follows  that                                                                   
     chronic  state  and national  problems,  or  propaganda-                                                                   
     driven  solutions that  rebound  with grosser  problems,                                                                   
     or   no  verifiable/satisfactory   results  from   using                                                                   
     public money, all expose poor or no education.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     I've followed  the debate on Rep. Wes Keller's  bill for                                                                   
     some  years. Educational  special  interests claim  that                                                                   
     necessary  civic  education   is  provided  in  segments                                                                   
     within a  couple semesters  of social studies.  Further,                                                                   
     they say,  an educational  mandate would generate  extra                                                                   
     labor  Alaska  can  ill-afford.  These  rationalizations                                                                   
     for  continuing  inadequate  citizen education  make  me                                                                   
     want to puke. Here's a simple elaboration.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Contrary  to  the  propagandized  portrayal  of  America                                                                   
     having  government  of,  for  and by  the  people,  what                                                                   
     actually  gets  conducted  now   is  benevolent  elected                                                                   
     aristocracy  (government  by  an elite).  This  is  well                                                                   
     revealed  by  the  chronic   vulnerability  of  American                                                                   
     politicians   to   lobbyists   and   campaign   donation                                                                   
     blackmail  -  typical  of highly  centralized  forms  of                                                                   
     government.  Naturally, politicians  think it's best  to                                                                   
     make   the  hard   decisions,  as   elected  agents   or                                                                   
     officials,  on   behalf  of  everyone.   This  political                                                                   
     definition  of  "represent"  is supported  by  being  in                                                                   
     modern college-level dictionaries.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:54:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMPSON continued reading his written testimony, as follows                                                                
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     But  there   lies  the   problem.  This  definition   of                                                                   
     "represent" isn't  the one that was used  by US founding                                                                   
     fathers!   Nor   does   it   align   with   the   Alaska                                                                   
     Constitution's  Article I sections  1 & 2! The  proof is                                                                   
     simple.  There were  no English  dictionaries  available                                                                   
     to  people   in  America's  formative   years.  Educated                                                                   
     people then were  also conversant with Latin  and Greek.                                                                   
     Therefore,  their  understanding  of English  words  for                                                                   
     use  in  important  writings  arose from  the  Latin  or                                                                   
     Greek derivations  of those words.  So what is  the true                                                                   
     meaning  of "represent" on  that basis?  It is to  "show                                                                   
     or put forth  again". If you represent people  that way,                                                                   
     politicians  are supposed to  relay the fruits  of their                                                                   
     constituent's  minds. That means  elected officials  are                                                                   
     duty-bound to  actually lead their constituents  so they                                                                   
     supply  an organized  body of  comprehensive  viewpoints                                                                   
     for  legislative  use.  That   also  means  a  political                                                                   
     leader has  to handle constituent laziness  or ignorance                                                                   
     or immaturity so he can represent something.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:55:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMPSON continued reading his written testimony, as                                                                        
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Let  me  note  here  that  elected  officialdom  is  our                                                                   
     country's  only  major profession  that  doesn't  compel                                                                   
     continuing education.  The pride in this is  so arrogant                                                                   
     that about  10 years  ago I was  refused even a  hearing                                                                   
     before   the   House  Rules   Committee   about   making                                                                   
     legislator  continuing  education   about  government  a                                                                   
     legislative rule.  This is despite existing  Legislative                                                                   
     Rules that legitimize doing so.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Not knowing  true representative government  methodology                                                                   
     well-easily  a  consequence  of  not  understanding  the                                                                   
     basic  word underlying  all of  our political  heritage-                                                                   
     makes  politicians  and  citizens alike  reach  for  the                                                                   
     methodologies   of  other  forms   of  government.   For                                                                   
     example,   how   most  elected   officials   now   treat                                                                   
     constituent   concerns,   and   how   constituents   now                                                                   
     approach  elected officials,  is  quite  similar to  the                                                                   
     political  relationship  of  nobles &  peasants  in  the                                                                   
     Middle  Ages. Research  the word  assizes-the town  hall                                                                   
     meeting/public hearing of that era.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:56:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMPSON continued reading his written testimony, as                                                                        
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Pass HB  30. Let's  give our youth  a start at  learning                                                                   
       the true philosophy and methods of self-government-                                                                      
     which channels  organized liberty  with true justice  in                                                                   
     the pursuit of happiness.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Thanks  for your attention.  By the  way, Mr.  Chairman,                                                                   
     after all  other citizens have  had their say,  will you                                                                   
     give  me   special  permission  to  speak   for  another                                                                   
     minute?  I  would like to simply state what  is arguably                                                                   
     the most  fundamental principle  of government known  to                                                                   
     history-that  is  apparently   not  being  taught.  This                                                                   
     omission   is  arguably  hurting   Alaskans  and   their                                                                   
     teachers.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska  Constitution  Article  7's  prohibition  against                                                                   
     sectarian  control  of  education   should  compel  your                                                                   
     interest  in the fact  that the  following principle  is                                                                   
     not directly  taught in Alaskan  schools - evidenced  by                                                                   
     citizen and government conduct.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     All  types of government  fall somewhere  on a  spectrum                                                                   
     as  follows:  1) Government  of  the  people  (examples:                                                                   
     dictatorships,  monarchies, and theocracies,  shading to                                                                   
     elite oligarchies/aristocracies);  2) Government  of and                                                                   
     for the  people (examples:  benevolent ruler-ships  like                                                                   
     nobility-counseled  or parliamentary-backed  monarchies,                                                                   
     shading  to elected  aristocracies  that  honor Rule  of                                                                   
     Law);  and 3)  Government  of, for,  and  by the  people                                                                   
     (examples:    real    constitutional    republics    and                                                                   
     parliamentary  democracies,   shading  to  ethics-driven                                                                   
     democracies  and anarchies). You  can judge the  type of                                                                   
     government being  used by the types of devices  that get                                                                   
     utilized   to  rule,   the   attitude  towards   citizen                                                                   
     potential  (i.e. Obama's  "people are  too small  minded                                                                   
     to   govern  themselves"   versus   Thomas   Jefferson's                                                                   
     convictions),  and how  much a  government harvests  the                                                                   
     fruits of people's minds to govern.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:56:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. THOMPSON continued reading his written testimony, as                                                                        
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Thanks  again  for your  attention.  I shall  leave  you                                                                   
     with  something to  think  about for  the  rest of  your                                                                   
     legislative  careers.  Consider.   The  volume  of  true                                                                 
     citizen  participation  in government  of,  for, and  by                                                                 
     the  People  is  probably the  most  reliable  test  for                                                                 
     public  education  effectiveness  that  could  ever  be.                                                                 
     Good luck on your deliberations.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:57:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB  BIRD  complimented  Mr.  Thompson   on  his  testimony.    He                                                              
provided his  background, stating  he has taught  41 years  in the                                                              
public schools and  holds a Master's degree in  history.  Although                                                              
he  is  semi-retired,  but still  teaches  constitutional  law  to                                                              
seniors  at  Nikiski  High  School.     He  also  does  homeschool                                                              
tutoring  in  his  semi-retirement.    He  said  he  was  twice  a                                                              
candidate for  the U.S. Senate and  was endorsed by Ron  Paul.  He                                                              
stated  that  he exercises  the  great  books method  of  teaching                                                              
government,  noting the  course is  required course  in the  Kenai                                                              
Peninsula  Borough  School  District.    He  emphasized  that  his                                                              
students reads  the entire Declaration  of Independence,  the Bill                                                              
of  Rights, and  the  Constitution word  for  word.   He has  been                                                              
taking  this approach  to teaching  since 1986,  but he wishes  he                                                              
had  always  done   so  since  it  is  only  when   reviewing  the                                                              
documents,  including   the  federalist  and   the  antifederalist                                                              
papers that  one is able to gain  a full understanding  of what is                                                              
going  wrong.   He  has held  discussions  with legislators  about                                                              
Constitutional questions  and on many  other issues.   It occurred                                                              
to him  that every legislator  should have  a refresher  course on                                                              
the  Constitution,  which  is  what he  thinks  Mr.  Thompson  was                                                              
alluding to, he said.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:59:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BIRD said  he  sent  an attachment  that  illustrate  typical                                                              
responses  students  make after  taking  a  full semester  of  his                                                              
courses.   He hoped  the committee could  put those comments  into                                                              
the  record  or  members  will read  them,  since  it  shows  12th                                                              
graders are  perfectly capable of  understanding that  the country                                                              
is in a  terrible constitutional mess.   He praised the  bill, but                                                              
offered  caution since  federalist and  antifederalist papers  are                                                              
absolutely essential  to properly  teach the Constitution,  but it                                                              
is largely  incomprehensible to most  adults, let  alone students.                                                              
He said  he has to translate  the Declaration of  Independence due                                                              
to the language style as well as the federalist papers.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. BIRD  highlighted one problem  with the  bill is it  may allow                                                              
boilerplate constitutional  textbooks to fulfill  the requirement.                                                              
For  example,  he  just  received  a  glossy  package  that  asked                                                              
whether or not there  should be a balanced budget  amendment.  The                                                              
liberal Democrats  said no and  the conservative  Republicans said                                                              
there  should  and  the  packet  provided  arguments.    It  asked                                                              
students  to analyze  the arguments  and make  up their own  mind;                                                              
however,  they missed  that  there already  is  a balanced  budget                                                              
amendment,  the Tenth  Amendment.   He said, "I  tell my  students                                                              
there  is no  need for  a balanced  budget  amendment since  we've                                                              
already  got  one.   If  we  made  another  one are  we  going  to                                                              
guarantee that's  going to be obeyed  when there already  is one?"                                                              
He  characterized  that as  a  typical  example of  how  textbooks                                                              
generally don't get it.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:02:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BIRD rejected  the idea  that  the Constitution  is a  living                                                              
document,  and  if  so,  it is  essentially  dead.    Further  the                                                              
Constitution  takes  sides, it  does  demand,  it does  require  a                                                              
strict construction,  which in  most textbooks  is seen  as simply                                                              
another opinion  worthy of  considering.   He emphasized  the only                                                              
textbook  that should  be required  is  The Politically  Incorrect                                                            
Guide to the  Constitution by Kevin Gutzman.  He acknowledged that                                                            
the  legislature probably  isn't  going to  force feed  textbooks,                                                              
but he maintained  that is the  only way to really  understand the                                                              
Constitution.    He  wished  members   well  with  the  bill,  but                                                              
cautioned  that if  it  doesn't take  the care  to  show that  the                                                              
federalist  and  anti-federalist  papers  should  be part  of  the                                                              
curriculum,  it  will  probably just  become  nothing  but  "fluff                                                              
stuff" when it gets down to each individual school district.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:03:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER  offered  that Mr. Bird  captured  his intent  and he                                                              
heard the caution.   He offered his  belief that one good  part of                                                              
the bill  is the use of  "ism" as in "American  constitutionalism"                                                              
which   stems  from   a   book   that  impressed   him,   American                                                            
Constitutionalism  Heard  Round the  World,  [1776-1989: A  Global                                                            
Perspective by  George Billias], that  implies the values  need to                                                            
be  looked at  and refreshed.   He  did not  anticipate this  bill                                                              
will force ends  in of itself.  Any good results,  if this passes,                                                              
will  come from  good faith  efforts  like teachers,  such as  Mr.                                                              
Bird, who  will keep expanding  on the values.   He asked  for his                                                              
expertise on  what the most impressive  "ism value" revealed  in a                                                              
review of the Declaration of Independence.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. BIRD  answered that he shows  students that God  is recognized                                                              
in  our founding  document.   He characterized  the separation  of                                                              
church and  state as nonsense,  which is meant  to mean we  have a                                                              
separation  of state  and  God, which  is  nonsense  since God  is                                                              
mentioned  four times.   He  is recognized  as lawgiver,  creator,                                                              
provider,  and judge.   However the  U.S. Supreme  Court wants  to                                                              
ram  their  opinions  down American's  throats,  the  court  can't                                                              
escape that aspect  of the Declaration of Independence.   Further,                                                              
bureaucracy   is  specifically   cited  in   the  Declaration   of                                                              
Independence  as is implied  jury nullification.   He  interpreted                                                              
the phrase  " ...  and sent  hither swarms  of Officers  to harass                                                              
our people  and eat  out their substance,"  to represent  what the                                                              
federal  government has  become.   He offered  his belief that  in                                                              
1776,  our  founders  created  firewalls   that  have  since  been                                                              
destroyed,  but people  are starting  to wake  up to  it now.   He                                                              
said his  characterization of the  Declaration is to  mention that                                                              
natural law  is cited in the first  breath, God is asked  to judge                                                              
the righteousness of  the American cause and they  were not afraid                                                              
to call  upon his  name so the  idea of  expunging any  mention of                                                              
God in public venues is nonsense.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER thanked Mr. Bird.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:07:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE  HUTCHISON   stated  that   although  she   is  actively                                                              
involved  in  a  group,  she is  testifying  today  on  behalf  of                                                              
herself.   She gave  a brief  personal history,  noting she  has a                                                              
degree in  education and  previously taught  social studies.   She                                                              
agreed  with Mr.  Thompson  and Mr.  Bird's  testimony.   She  has                                                              
previously  testified  on this  issue  and  she will  continue  to                                                              
testify  on this issue  because it  is extremely  important.   She                                                              
acknowledged  she  has  not  paid  sufficient  attention  to  this                                                              
issue,  but  she  now realizes  the  grievous  lack  of  knowledge                                                              
students  have  of  the  process  [of  government]  in  Alaska  to                                                              
Washington  D.C.     She  related   her  understanding   that  the                                                              
legislature wants to  hear from the public, but to  do so requires                                                              
an  understanding   of  the   process,  the   policies,  and   the                                                              
procedures  to.   Again,  she favored  what  these gentlemen  have                                                              
said today.   She hoped  the committee would  pass [HB 30]  in its                                                              
entirety.  As she  goes through her day, she asks  young people if                                                              
they are registered  to vote.  More times than  not, students will                                                              
respond that  they graduated  from Nikiski  High School,  that Bob                                                              
Bird was  their teacher, and  that is why  they are  registered to                                                              
vote.   She  noted she  has asked  a student  who didn't  graduate                                                              
from  Nikiski  High  School  who wasn't  registered  to  vote  and                                                              
although that  doesn't mean there  is disparity in  education, she                                                              
emphasized  the importance  of getting young  people involved,  to                                                              
help them understand  how the Constitution works and  get them out                                                              
to  vote.   She  expressed  concern  that  the country  is  losing                                                              
ground  from her  generation  and her  parent's  generation.   She                                                              
said  this information  is all  found  in the  Constitution.   She                                                              
expressed  her   gratitude  for   Mr.  Thompson  and   Mr.  Bird's                                                              
testimony.  She  hopes this will flow through  the committee, that                                                              
she understands the  bill may encounter roadblocks  in the Senate.                                                              
She emphasized that  she will be back, that this  is not an option                                                              
or choice,  and  that this  must to be  done.   She thanked  Chair                                                              
Keller for  sponsoring HB  30.  She  acknowledged that  this issue                                                              
may need to be  heard again next year and this is  a process so it                                                              
may not get  fixed with one bill.   She thanked the  committee for                                                              
their consideration  and  urged them  to have  a positive vote  on                                                              
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:11:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA HANEY  stated that she  taught a political  economy course                                                              
at University  of Alaska Fairbanks.   She stressed  the importance                                                              
of  this   bill.     She  was   somewhat  amused   by  the   chief                                                              
administrator developing  the curriculum.   She asked  whether the                                                              
Mayflower Compact  could be added  to the list of  documents since                                                              
it  was the  first  freedom  document  written on  North  American                                                              
soil.  The history  behind the document of people  coming out of a                                                              
storm,  establishing  a government  and  rules of  conduct  should                                                              
impress  upon  students that  even  the  lack of  an  overreaching                                                              
structure doesn't  give them  an excuse to  act in an  absurd way.                                                              
She said  that there  are certain rules  and standards  of conduct                                                              
that people have historically used, even without government.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:14:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  THOMPSON concluded  his earlier  testimony,  by stating  that                                                              
Alaska  Constitution, Article  VII  prohibition against  sectarian                                                              
control  of  education  should  compel  the  committee's  interest                                                              
since the following  principle is not directly  taught in Alaska's                                                              
schools,  which is evidenced  by citizen  and government  conduct.                                                              
All types  of government  fall somewhere on  the spectrum  of one,                                                              
government  of the  people, including  dictatorships,  monarchies,                                                              
and  theocracies;   two,  government   of  and  for   the  people,                                                              
including  benevolent ruler-ships,  such as  nobility councils  or                                                              
parliamentary-backed  monarchies; and  three, government  of, for,                                                              
and  by the  people,  such as  real constitutional  republics  and                                                              
parliamentary democracies.   He said  that the type  of government                                                              
being used  can be judged  by the types  of devices used  to rule.                                                              
The attitude  toward citizen  potential ranges  from the  attitude                                                              
of Obama's  people who are too  small minded to  govern themselves                                                              
to  Thomas  Jefferson's  convictions  and how  much  a  government                                                              
harvests  the  fruits  of  people's  minds  to  govern.  He  asked                                                              
members to  consider the volume  of true citizen  participation in                                                              
government  of, for,  and by  the  people, which  is probably  the                                                              
most reliable test of public education's effectiveness.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:16:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER,  after first determining  no one wished  to testify,                                                              
closed public testimony on HB 30.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:17:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER  said although he supports the  intent of HB
30, he  would like to  work with the  sponsor on implementing  the                                                              
curriculum  in the  schools  without  requiring students  to  need                                                              
additional  credits   for  graduation.     For  example,   perhaps                                                              
language  could be  incorporated  to have  the curriculum  segment                                                              
apply  to   the  U.S.  history   credit  without   adding  another                                                              
requirement for  graduation.  He  expressed concern that  that the                                                              
current language  might result in  districts dropping  course work                                                              
or needing  additional staff.   Instead,  he hoped to  incorporate                                                              
this important subject  matter as part of the  U.S. history credit                                                              
already required as  part of the curriculum.  He  suggested if any                                                              
textbooks  are required  that they  could  be phased  in to  avoid                                                              
additional costs to districts.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:18:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER  asked  whether he has  any specific  amendment.   He                                                              
suggested that  some of these  issues were discussed  in committee                                                              
and  have been  vetted.   He  suggested a  review  of minutes  may                                                              
satisfy him.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:20:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER,  in response  to Representative  Colver, offered  to                                                              
set the  bill aside.   He  asked Representative  Colver to  review                                                              
the minutes.  He hoped to bring the back for quick action.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:20:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  pointed  out  the committee  has  not  yet                                                              
discussed the  bill.  He  said at this  point he is  uncomfortable                                                              
with the bill as  well as previous versions that  have come before                                                              
the   committee  in   prior  legislatures.      Further,  he   was                                                              
uncomfortable with  some of testimony  today that  suggested ideas                                                              
in  previous  documents  should override  the  Constitution.    He                                                              
stated that the  Constitution was an agreement  reached among many                                                              
parties.   It is  a structured  document, so  by reaching  back to                                                              
ideas   contained   in  the   papers   such  as   Declaration   of                                                              
Independence and  the federalist papers indicating  they should be                                                              
controlling,  seems   to  reject   the  idea  of   a  constitution                                                              
entirely.  Although  he didn't wish to debate  with testifiers, he                                                              
suggested the committee  must consider what is being  asked in the                                                              
bill.    For  example,  the bill  doesn't  pertain  to  civics  or                                                              
studying the Constitution.   Instead, the bill  speaks to teaching                                                              
the  values held  by  the  people that  existed  at  the time  the                                                              
Constitution was created.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  adopting   the  Constitution  was  a                                                              
compromise, but  the final document  also allowed slavery  and did                                                              
not allow women  the right to vote.  The bill  also includes state                                                              
constitutions,  and  many  did  not allow  married  women  to  own                                                              
property in  their names, counted  American Indians as  no persons                                                              
in the  census - they  were counted as  zero, as well  as counting                                                              
anyone  else other  than  white men  and women  as  a 3/4  person.                                                              
Certainly  many  occurrences  in world  that  [committee  members]                                                              
strongly  object to  are present  in  our own  history during  its                                                              
formation and in  the values held by the people.   Since then, the                                                              
Constitution  has  been  changed   through  amendments,  including                                                              
suffrage, and other rights were granted.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:22:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  expressed  concern that  the  Constitution                                                              
would not  be studied and  that is the  document that  was crafted                                                              
and agreed  to by the  people of the  United States.   Instead, HB
30  would  adopt the  values  of  the people  who  negotiated  the                                                              
Constitution  as  being the  controlling  values.   Views  of  the                                                              
federalists  or the  antifederalist papers  could be  picked.   He                                                              
objected to  the idea that under  the bill the  Constitution isn't                                                              
what is  important,  but rather the  values expressed  by some  of                                                              
the founders would be accelerated.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON said  that  other than  concerns about  the                                                              
structure  of  the   bill,  he  has  concerns   about  the  actual                                                              
implementation of  HB 30, including that values  the United States                                                              
no longer  espouses would be  taught.  He  concluded by  saying he                                                              
is not  in favor of  moving the bill.   He suggested  that perhaps                                                              
some things  could be  outlined but  he is uncomfortable  teaching                                                              
values not incorporated  into the Constitution and  the amendments                                                              
adopted later.   Otherwise,  the bill  would require teaching  the                                                              
Constitution, he said.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:25:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  offered  the  intent  of the  bill  is  to  examine                                                              
constitutionalism   and  the   values   at  the   time  when   the                                                              
Constitution  was  formed.   He  further said  the  aforementioned                                                              
items that  Representative  Seaton raised  could be allowable  and                                                              
included in  the proposed curriculum  segment.  He  suggested that                                                              
there is  a huge value  in [adding the  curriculum segment].   One                                                              
alternative  would be  the outcome  that HB 30  will not  consider                                                              
the values  that were present  and incorporated into  the founding                                                              
documents  for fear that  some of  the values  would be  shut out.                                                              
He said, "I can't  go there. But that's okay.   That's a matter of                                                              
debate."   The bill  will be set  aside and the  stage is  set for                                                              
committee discussion, he said.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[HB 30 was held over.]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 30 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 2/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HCR2 FiscalNote.pdf HEDC 2/6/2015 8:00:00 AM