Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

02/27/2015 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:05:23 AM Start
08:05:34 AM HB30
08:45:01 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 30(EDC) Out of Committee
            HB  30-CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY CURRICULUM                                                                        
CHAIR KELLER announced  that the only 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."                                                                                                                
8:05:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER turned the gavel over to Vice Chair Reinbold.                                                                      
8:06:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER   spoke  as  sponsor   of  HB  30  and   said  that                                                               
Representative Seaton had asked  questions in an earlier hearing.                                                               
To address those concerns and to  clarify the intent of his bill,                                                               
he read from  a prepared statement. He pointed out  that there is                                                               
nothing controlling in his bill.  The founding documents cited in                                                               
HB 30  provide a context  for understanding original  intent, and                                                               
the list  is not  exclusive, he added.  Many documents  from that                                                               
time  period would  provide valuable  context. The  bill presumes                                                               
that  a  good education  must  include  an understanding  of  the                                                               
values  that existed  when America  was formed,  and it  does not                                                               
propose  that  current  values must  align  with  all  historical                                                               
values, he  explained, including slavery and  women's rights. The                                                               
writers did  not presume  they had  produced a  perfect document,                                                               
and Article  V has allowed  for thousands of  amendment attempts,                                                               
including 27 ratified amendments.                                                                                               
CHAIR  KELLER said  any education  standard should  not hide  the                                                               
errors  of the  past,  and  "he who  cannot  remember history  is                                                               
destined  to  repeat  it."  The  self-evident  truth  that  human                                                               
dignity  is  based  on  universal and  natural  human  rights  is                                                               
enshrined  in the  Declaration  of Independence  and  has been  a                                                               
beacon for  freedom worldwide, he  stated. He added  that America                                                               
is unique, and its values were  not invented when the country was                                                               
created, but they were enshrined.  The symbolism in the Statue of                                                               
Liberty is stunning, he stressed. It  is the symbol of the end of                                                               
slavery,  and in  the  hand  of the  statue  is  the tablet  that                                                               
symbolizes the  rule of law,  dated July 4,  1776. The bill  is a                                                               
small and important one, and he encouraged members' votes.                                                                      
8:14:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER  noted  that legislators  should  be  careful  when                                                               
creating mandates  for schools,  and he  intends to  vote against                                                               
many   other  school   mandates.  Many   schools  are   [teaching                                                               
constitutionalism].  He noted  that [HB  30] will  be a  required                                                               
history curriculum standard, but it does not mandate tests.                                                                     
8:17:28 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR REINBOLD moved to  adopt CSHB 30, labeled 29-LS0186\W,                                                               
as the working document.                                                                                                        
8:17:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER objected  for the  purpose of  discussion.                                                               
[Version W was  treated as though it were adopted  as the working                                                               
document.]  He  asked  if  the   intent  is  to  incorporate  the                                                               
constitutional coursework  within existing requirements.  He said                                                               
United States history  and government are already  taught in high                                                               
school,  and he  asked  if  the bill  will  create an  additional                                                               
graduation requirement.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  KELLER  answered  that  it  is  an  additional  graduation                                                               
requirement;  however,   each  school   district  will   set  the                                                               
standards and provide  the curriculum. The intent is  to say, "go                                                               
look at  the values in  American constitutionalism and  make sure                                                               
your kids learn this," he added.                                                                                                
8:19:32 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR REINBOLD opened public testimony.                                                                                    
JAMES SQUYRES,  Delta Junction, Alaska,  said he  represents "one                                                               
of the people" and that he  supports HB 30. Federal and state law                                                               
overreach  can  be  traced  back  to  "wandering  away  from  the                                                               
founding  of our  great country."  He said  he sailed  around the                                                               
world, and  he saw oppression and  tyranny abroad, and he  is now                                                               
aware of the  infringements on individual rights  that are taking                                                               
place in  the United States.  He said  he expects the  schools in                                                               
Alaska are teaching a great  deal about the constitution already.                                                               
Understanding  and defending  the constitution  "turns some  gray                                                               
areas into black and white issues  that can be solved quickly and                                                               
easily," he said.  Alaska has the most liberties  anywhere in the                                                               
world, and  it is worth  fighting for. Voting  for HB 30  will be                                                               
one more step in the right direction, he concluded.                                                                             
8:22:04 AM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA GOODE,  Delta Junction, Alaska,  expressed support  for HB
30, saying  that something is  missing in the fiber  of America's                                                               
society   as  shown   by  the   fact   that  [teaching   American                                                               
constitutionalism] is not automatic. Freedom  is dying in our own                                                               
hands, she said.  She noted that she sailed around  the world and                                                               
when encountering people  who spoke English in  Australia and New                                                               
Zealand,  she  expected them  to  be  like-minded, but  she  said                                                               
Americans are  different. "It's the way  we think and the  way we                                                               
approach things,"  she stated. She  added that people  would turn                                                               
to Americans for help because  Americans are industrious and "can                                                               
always  get stuff  done." She  said the  reason Americans  are so                                                               
different is because of the  constitution and biblical principles                                                               
and values. She said she used to  ask Americans if they live in a                                                               
republic  or  a  democracy  and  if  they  knew  the  purpose  of                                                               
government, and  they could  not answer.  The one  thing Alaskans                                                               
need to focus  on is cutting the budget, and  the problem is that                                                               
people  do  not  know  about smaller  government  and  individual                                                               
liberty.  She mentioned  health  care,  Common Core  [educational                                                               
standards], and  the EPA  [Environmental Protection  Agency], and                                                               
"we can't seem  to cut the budget." She said  that perhaps Alaska                                                               
could lead the way in the direction the country needs to go.                                                                    
8:25:14 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  CONWELL,  Superintendent,  Unalaska City  School  District,                                                               
expressed opposition  to HB 30,  stating that he has  taught U.S.                                                               
government and  history. He appreciates  the bill's  attention to                                                               
American government and constitutionalism,  which is an important                                                               
discussion, especially when  there is so much  recent emphasis on                                                               
reading, writing,  and math;  however, HB 30  calls for  a narrow                                                               
focus more  appropriate for an  advancement placement  or college                                                               
course. High school  civics courses should leave  students with a                                                               
general understanding  of the  constitutional foundations  of the                                                               
American  political  system, he  opined.  Civics  is a  year-long                                                               
course in Unalaska, and students  study the constitution, and the                                                               
highly-qualified history  teacher should be trusted  to cover the                                                               
topic  while   assessing  the  students'  understanding   of  the                                                               
content.  He  said school  districts  "have  their plates  heaped                                                               
full" right  now with several  recently mandated  initiatives. He                                                               
said that HB 30 is  well-intentioned but an unnecessary, unfunded                                                               
8:27:15 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR REINBOLD asked what unfunded mandates he referred to.                                                                
MR.  CONWELL  noted  the  new  educator  evaluation  system;  the                                                               
restraint and seclusion requirements;  and the Alaska measures of                                                               
progress testing, which has been a huge burden for his district.                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  thanked  the  caller  in the  event  that  he  had                                                               
participated  in "that  survey we  just got  from ASB."  He noted                                                               
receiving many comments  on unfunded mandates, and  that was very                                                               
helpful, but  [the survey] did not  deal with HB 30.  He asked if                                                               
Mr. Conwell responded to the survey. [Mr. Conwell said he did.]                                                                 
8:29:10 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  NEES, Anchorage,  Alaska,  stated support  for  HB 30.  He                                                               
noted that he has a degree in  history, and to know "who you are"                                                               
is to study  "where you came from." So a  clear, concise study of                                                               
[the  constitution] is  a  good idea,  he  stated. Landed,  white                                                               
males were  the people who  had the power  at the time,  "so they                                                               
got to  write the  document," but  America has  changed. Studying                                                               
such documents should  be part of a U.S.  history course anywhere                                                               
in Alaska. A civics course  tells students that they should vote,                                                               
but  that is  different from  knowing  why they  should vote,  he                                                               
opined.  If the  legislature  is adding  a  course to  graduation                                                               
requirements,  he  said,  the   curriculum  should  be  provided.                                                               
Additionally, HB 30 should include  money "to put those textbooks                                                               
out in those classrooms." He added  that he supports the bill and                                                               
said every  legislator should be  familiar with  these documents,                                                               
as well, because  they are sworn to uphold both  the American and                                                               
Alaska Constitutions.                                                                                                           
8:31:34 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR   REINBOLD  thanked   Ms.  Nees  and   closed  public                                                               
8:31:43 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:31 a.m. to 8:32 a.m.                                                                       
8:31:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER responded  to  Representative  Colver's request  to                                                               
release  a  February  10,  2015,   memo  from  Legislative  Legal                                                               
Counsel,  Kate  Glover,  regarding  an  amendment  that  was  not                                                               
offered. Chair Keller  read from the memo, which  stated that the                                                               
unoffered  amendment "does  not make  any substantive  changes to                                                               
the  content or  intent  of  the bill."  House  Bill 30  requires                                                               
schools   to   include   American  constitutionalism   in   their                                                               
curricula,  she  wrote,  and the  amendment  specifies  that  the                                                               
curriculum may  be taught as  part of a course  already required.                                                               
Ms. Glover wrote that "nothing in  the language of HB 30, without                                                               
the  amendment,  would  require  the  American  constitutionalism                                                               
curriculum to be taught as a stand-alone course."                                                                               
8:35:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER said the memo confirmed what he was thinking.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER said  he had  wanted clarity  that schools                                                               
would not be  directed to create a new class,  and some districts                                                               
already  [include constitutionalism]  in their  high schools.  He                                                               
said the memo clarifies the issue and satisfies his concerns.                                                                   
8:36:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said the committee packet  did not include                                                               
a  syllabus  outline or  a  definition  of constitutionalism.  He                                                               
noted  that the  sponsor statement  indicates that  students must                                                               
demonstrate knowledge  of the documents,  which seems to  be more                                                               
than  just passing  a course.  He pointed  out that  tThe sponsor                                                               
statement also states  that the bill will  require the Department                                                               
of Education  and/or the school  districts to  implement courses,                                                               
which  sounds  like  a   statewide  standard.  Additionally,  the                                                               
sponsor  said that  the law  will provide  standardized knowledge                                                               
across the state. Representative Seaton  said he finds this to be                                                               
confusing,  because HB  30 requires  that  every school  district                                                               
generate  a  syllabus,  which  indicates  that  it  will  not  be                                                               
consistent across  Alaska. There is  a memo attached to  the bill                                                               
stating that  the bill  will result in  a one-semester  course in                                                               
senior year, and such language is  not contained in the bill that                                                               
is  before the  committee,  he clarified.  He  noted that  school                                                               
districts  see HB  30 as  an  unfunded mandate,  and the  Chugach                                                               
School  District  is in  opposition.  The  Kenai School  District                                                               
provided  comments   saying  that  the  process   for  curriculum                                                               
development includes teacher and  community committee meetings to                                                               
develop  the  curriculum  and  the  courses  to  meet  the  state                                                               
standards, another  committee to review the  materials to support                                                               
the curriculum,  and a third  committee to develop  quarterly and                                                               
interim assessments. He  noted that the district  would then have                                                               
to do a review of the implementation after one year.                                                                            
8:39:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  the  timing of  this  law  is  very                                                               
problematic  regarding budgetary  constraints.  It  is a  mandate                                                               
that requires  committee work, public meetings,  and reviews, and                                                               
putting  the  law   into  statute  is  not   something  that  the                                                               
legislature  should  do  haphazardly. Additionally,  the  current                                                               
Alaska State  Standards list the  following nine  requirements to                                                               
be  taught:  1)  the  ideals  expressed  in  the  Declaration  of                                                               
Independence, the U.S.  Constitution, and the Bill  of Rights; 2)                                                               
American history  and culture, including  the republican  form of                                                               
government,  capitalism,  free   enterprise,  patriotism,  strong                                                               
family units, and freedom of  religion; 3) the U.S. Constitution,                                                               
including  the  separation  of powers,  branches  of  government,                                                               
majority  rule, and  minority  rights; 4)  the  sharing of  power                                                               
between federal, state, and local  entities; 5) the importance of                                                               
individuals,  public opinion,  media, and  others with  regard to                                                               
forming  and carrying  out  public policy;  6)  diversity in  the                                                               
political  system; 7)  the  difference in  constitutionally-based                                                               
ideals and  the reality of American  life; 8) the role  of law in                                                               
America's political system; and 9) the role of dissent.                                                                         
8:41:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed the concern that  Alaska schools                                                               
will  receive a  mandate to  develop  a separate  segment of  the                                                               
curriculum,  which  appears  to  be exclusive  of  the  documents                                                               
themselves  because  the documents  are  already  required to  be                                                               
taught and understood. "I am at a  loss to figure out, when we do                                                               
not  have   a  definition   in  this   bill,  of   what  American                                                               
constitutionalism  is," he  added, and  he questioned  having the                                                               
legislature place in  law this unfunded mandate that  seems to be                                                               
already incorporated in Alaska's  state standards. "I don't think                                                               
that we're ready to move the bill from committee," he opined.                                                                   
8:42:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER stated  that HB  30 is  only a  step to  strengthen                                                               
school standards.                                                                                                               
VICE CHAIR REINBOLD  said Alaska academic standards  are based on                                                               
the  Common  Core  standards,  which were  not  vetted  and  were                                                               
devised  behind closed  doors.  She  opined that  HB  30 is  more                                                               
critical than  ever. She noted  that David Coleman, chair  of the                                                               
College  Board,  helped  write the  standards,  and  "so  there's                                                               
dramatic concern  across this nation  for what has  happened with                                                               
our standards." Now  more than ever, she stated,  Alaska needs to                                                               
teach the  original founding documents and  the constitution. She                                                               
noted that she swore to  uphold and defend the constitution, "and                                                               
it's our  civic duty to  ensure that our children  understand the                                                               
document that has held this country together."                                                                                  
8:44:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER  moved  to   report  HB  30,  Version  29-                                                               
LS0186\W,  Glover,  2/12/15,  out of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying  (zero) fiscal  note. There                                                               
being  no objection,  CSHB 30(EDC)  was reported  from the  House                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
8:45:01 AM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB0030A.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Sponsor.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Sectional.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
Essays on Constitution.docx HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30 Civics Board Timeline.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Civic's Dunces.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 pro.msg HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Testimony Feb 4.doc HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Thompson comments.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 Wallace M. Olson.msg HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB 30 AML ltr opposition.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
HB30 Legal Memo.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30
CSHB30.pdf HEDC 2/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 30