Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

03/20/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Moved CSHB 135(EDC) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
         HB 102-LIMITED TEACHER CERTIFICATES; LANGUAGES                                                                     
8:19:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  announced that  the next  order of business  would                                                              
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 102,  "An  Act relating  to  instruction in  a                                                              
language  other  than English;  and  relating to  limited  teacher                                                              
8:19:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REID  MAGDANZ,  Staff,  Representative   Jonathan  Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                              
prime sponsor  of HB  102, informed  the committee  the bill  is a                                                              
repeal  and reenactment  of statute;  he directed  attention to  a                                                              
document  provided in  the committee  packet entitled,  "HB 102  -                                                              
Comparison  to Current Law"  [undated], that  clarified HB  102 is                                                              
not all  new law.   In response  to previous committee  discussion                                                              
and  to comments  received from  the Department  of Education  and                                                              
Early  Development (DEED),  the  sponsor will  offer an  amendment                                                              
that would  remove language  in the bill  related to  the academic                                                              
policy committees  of charter schools, as the  department seeks to                                                              
work  directly  with  districts   and  to  avoid  tension  between                                                              
charter schools  and districts.   Mr.  Magdanz directed  attention                                                              
to a document  provided in the committee packet  entitled, "HB 102                                                              
-  Response  to concerns  of  Department  of Education  and  Early                                                              
Development,"  [undated].  He  stressed two  key points  within HB
102  are:   1.)  the  Alaska  State  Board  of Education  &  Early                                                              
Development   (state  board)  holds   regulatory  authority;   2.)                                                              
discretion  is  held  by  school   districts  related  to  limited                                                              
certificates.   On the first point,  HB 102 requires a  teacher to                                                              
have  the  identical   skills  that  are  currently   required  by                                                              
existing  limited certificate  law;  further, the  state board  is                                                              
empowered to write  regulations to interpret the  language related                                                              
to the  standards of  the limited  teaching certificate.    On the                                                              
second  point,  HB  102  provides   flexibility  so  local  school                                                              
districts   can  staff   their   language   programs  as   needed,                                                              
recognizing that  the needs of districts  differ for a  variety of                                                              
reasons.    The  bill is  designed  to  provide  school  districts                                                              
complete  and total  discretion  over whether  to  hire a  teacher                                                              
holding a  limited teaching  certificate, and  a school  board can                                                              
impose additional prerequisites.                                                                                                
8:24:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony.                                                                                         
8:25:20 AM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER   POWELL,  Teacher,   Hoonah  City   Schools,  began   her                                                              
testimony  speaking   her  first  language.    She   informed  the                                                              
committee she  is a  Tlingit language teacher  in the  Hoonah City                                                              
Schools  district   currently  teaching   students  in   preschool                                                              
through 12th grade.   She said she began her  language training as                                                              
a  child taught  by her  grandmother,  who  was one  of the  first                                                              
Tlingit language teachers  in the Sitka School District.   At that                                                              
time  -  1992  -  her  grandmother  overcame  the  trauma  of  her                                                              
experience in school,  and was one of few elders  willing to teach                                                              
in schools,  and in 1995, Ms.  Powell began student  teaching with                                                              
her.     Ms.  Powell   noted  the   importance  of  her   language                                                              
instruction and  further instruction from other elders  who, along                                                              
with  language   instruction,  taught   the  value  of   land  and                                                              
important  public  policy such  as  the Alaska  National  Interest                                                              
Lands Conservation  Act, the Alaska Native Claims  Settlement Act,                                                              
the Alaska Native  Brotherhood, and the Alaska  Native Sisterhood.                                                              
Along  with math  and  cultural traditions,  place-based  learning                                                              
also  teaches  kinship with  family  and  the land,  using  Native                                                              
language to  teach skills for  life and  reality.  Ms.  Powell has                                                              
continued  this  path and  has  raised three  bilingual  children.                                                              
She noted  the difficulty for emergent  programs that do  not have                                                              
the capacity  of sufficient certificated  teachers to  share their                                                              
knowledge  with   children.    She   pointed  out   Alaska  Native                                                              
languages are  recognized official  Alaska languages, and  this is                                                              
the  time to  value  languages.   Recently,  seven  of her  eleven                                                              
students  expressed their  interest in  becoming Tlingit  language                                                              
teachers.   She said  the number  of Native  language speakers  is                                                              
declining  and  expressed the  urgency  of  this loss.    Building                                                              
capacity  by  allowing teachers  to  be  valued by  ancestral  and                                                              
educational  systems is  important for  children.   She said  [the                                                              
bill]  provides an  opportunity  to value  teachers and  language,                                                              
and  to bring  language  into everything  one  does.   Ms.  Powell                                                              
closed her testimony speaking her first language.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked for  clarification on  [the number                                                              
of Native language speakers.]                                                                                                   
MS.  POWELL  said  last year  there  were  120  documented  fluent                                                              
language speakers on  a list; this year there are  less than 60 on                                                              
the list.   In further response  to Representative  Spohnholz, she                                                              
confirmed the speakers were elders who are now deceased.                                                                        
8:30:49 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM HAMILL  said he  is the  Education and  Training Director  for                                                              
the Knik  Tribal Council,  however,  he is testifying  on  his own                                                              
behalf as  a concerned  citizen.  He  provided a short  background                                                              
of  his education,  and  said  he is  a  certified  teacher.   Mr.                                                              
Hamill  said  he  has  worked  with   certified  and  noncertified                                                              
instructors as the  director of the School to Work  program at the                                                              
nationally  recognized   Chugach  School  District,   and  as  the                                                              
education  director of the  Cook Inlet  Tribal Council,  directing                                                              
fifty staff in  eight schools serving approximately  eight hundred                                                              
Native  students   in  the  Anchorage   School  District.     More                                                              
recently,  he served  as principal  of the  Alaska Military  Youth                                                              
Academy, Department  of Military  & Veterans' Affairs,  overseeing                                                              
a   nationally   recognized   academic    team   of   noncertified                                                              
instructors.   Mr. Hamill opined a  credential is not the  only or                                                              
best  measurement   of  teaching   skills  when  correlated   with                                                              
[student] learning  success, and gave  an example of  an exemplary                                                              
noncertified instructor  who is now  a successful principal.   Mr.                                                              
Hamill stressed  the importance of providing the  best instructors                                                              
available  who can  teach  content and  also  ensure each  student                                                              
learns,  progresses, and  can demonstrate  proficient  performance                                                              
and application  of  their new knowledge.   Alaska  is facing  the                                                              
loss of many of  its Native languages and thus  must locate Native                                                              
speakers,  many of  whom are  elders  who would  be challenged  to                                                              
obtain a  teaching certificate;  however,  in its present  crisis,                                                              
the  state must  use all  the talent  available.   [HB 102]  would                                                              
allow schools  and districts  to use  the best available  teachers                                                              
of Alaska  Native languages.  In  most cases, the  Native language                                                              
teachers  hired  are  well  known  by  the  school  community;  in                                                              
addition,  their  presence in  the  classroom would  allow  Alaska                                                              
Native   students  to   identify   with,   respect,  and   observe                                                              
indigenous language  speakers as they teach language  and culture,                                                              
which  is  an  opportunity  that  was  not  possible  for  others.                                                              
Through his  research into the  Upper Inlet Dena'ina  dialect, Mr.                                                              
Hamill  said  he is  finding  very  few speakers  today,  although                                                              
there is  a rising  interest in the  language, and cautioned  that                                                              
if   speakers  are   found,  they   will  not   hold  a   teaching                                                              
certificate.   He stated passage of  the bill is "the  right thing                                                              
to do for the people whom we serve."                                                                                            
8:36:24 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA  WADE,  Health,  Education,  and  Social  Services  Director,                                                              
Chickaloon  Traditional Village  Council  and Education  Director,                                                              
Ya  Ne  Da Ah  School,  began  her testimony  speaking  her  first                                                              
language.   Ms. Wade  informed the  committee Ya  Ne Da  Ah School                                                              
was founded  in 1992  by her  grandmother who  was the  last elder                                                              
fluent  speaker  of  the  Ahtna  language  in  her  region.    She                                                              
estimated less than  40 fluent speakers remain at  this time, many                                                              
of  which  are elders.    Ya  Ne  Da  Ah School  currently  is  an                                                              
immersion-style  program  -  working   towards  a  full  immersion                                                              
program -  using certified and noncertified  staff to teach.   The                                                              
noncertified  teacher  is  a natural  Dena'ina  speaker,  and  the                                                              
school  is  using  all  methods  to retain  and  teach  the  Ahtna                                                              
language.   The noncertified teacher  is responsible  for managing                                                              
a classroom  and teaching  language, and brings  a wealth  of life                                                              
experience into the  school.  Due to her caring  style of teaching                                                              
and  her  experience  with students  affected  by  [fetal  alcohol                                                              
related neurodevelopmental  disorder], the Ahtna  language program                                                              
is blooming,  and some  students  are advancing  to college.   The                                                              
teaching  method at  the school  is a  recognized teaching  method                                                              
using  total   physical   response  (TPR),   and  the  school   is                                                              
developing its curriculum  for the Ahtna language.   Ms. Wade said                                                              
students at her  school are aged three years  through twelve years                                                              
and use  a jigsaw method  of teaching.   A language  apprentice is                                                              
also  present in  the  classroom  and many  elders  visit to  help                                                              
ensure that  every spoken and learned  word is a healing  word, in                                                              
order to address  intergenerational trauma.  Students  at Ya Ne Da                                                              
School  are Native  and nonnative,  some are  Tribal citizens  and                                                              
some  travel from  other regions  to  attend.   She stressed  when                                                              
students  from  other  regions  speak the  Ahtna  language  it  is                                                              
powerful and healing  for the community, as a  generation ago many                                                              
residents  attended  boarding  schools and  were  preventing  from                                                              
speaking  or   studying  their  language.     She  spoke   of  the                                                              
difficulty of operating  a small Tribal school in  Alaska, but the                                                              
school is  the heart  and center  of the Tribe.   Ms.  Wade stated                                                              
her strong  support for  the bill because  every method  should be                                                              
used  to  retain  the  state's  languages,  and  she  invited  the                                                              
members to visit the school's Facebook page or web site.                                                                        
8:42:19 AM                                                                                                                    
ALICE  TAFF, PhD,  informed the  committee she  is a  certificated                                                              
teacher with 14  years of experience in Alaska and  is now working                                                              
as a linguist.   Dr. Taff said she is representing  herself and is                                                              
retired from  teaching, and  from the University  of Alaska.   She                                                              
said  many schools  in rural  areas  are struggling  and there  is                                                              
evidence  worldwide  that indigenous  language  immersion  schools                                                              
can help.   In  fact, research indicates  the strongest  immersion                                                              
programs  - in which  80-100 percent  of content  is delivered  in                                                              
the  indigenous language  -  have the  highest  levels of  overall                                                              
academic achievement.   Immersion  education is the  most reliable                                                              
approach,  and  more  education   correlates  with  higher  socio-                                                              
economic  status, better  health,  and increased  safety.   A  new                                                              
field of  study links indigenous  language use to health,  and she                                                              
described research  that revealed lower suicide rates  among First                                                              
Nation communities  in Canada  in which at  least one-half  of the                                                              
members had a  conversational knowledge of their  Native language,                                                              
and lower diabetes  rates in communities with  strong [indigenous]                                                              
language  use.   Therefore,  immersion  schooling  in Alaska  will                                                              
become  cost effective  when the  state pays  less for  healthcare                                                              
after immersion  schools are  in place.   Dr. Taff advised  Alaska                                                              
schools have  been modeled after  a Lower 48 system  of education;                                                              
Alaska Natives  must adapt to this  system, and this has  not been                                                              
successful in  many parts of the  state, as shown by  academic and                                                              
healthcare  data.    She suggested  the  Alaska  education  system                                                              
should adapt and  change to support education in  the language and                                                              
culture of  its Native  peoples.  Because  children only  have one                                                              
chance   for  their   education,   immersion  programs   recommend                                                              
programs  start now  and persist  while overcoming  hurdles.   The                                                              
first  hurdle to Alaska  is to  find teachers  certified to  teach                                                              
all content  in Alaska languages, and  HB 102 can help  schools do                                                              
so.    Dr.  Taff  closed,  noting  that  the  United  Nations  has                                                              
designated 2018 as  the Year of Indigenous languages  and the bill                                                              
would allow Alaskans to proclaim progress to positive results                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  asked how  the programs in  Canada approach                                                              
indigenous language instruction.                                                                                                
DR. TAFF offered to provide further research.                                                                                   
8:48:55 AM                                                                                                                    
X'UNEI LANCE  TWITCHELL began  his testimony  in an Alaska  Native                                                            
language.    Mr.   Twitchell  informed  the  committee   he  is  a                                                              
professor of Alaska  Native Languages at the University  of Alaska                                                              
Southeast  (UAS),   and  a  doctoral   student  of   Hawaiian  and                                                              
Indigenous  Language &  Culture Revitalization  at the  University                                                              
of Hawai'i  at Hilo,  and is testifying  on his  own behalf.   Mr.                                                              
Twitchell  said  HB 102  brought  to his  mind  the  dire need  to                                                              
support  Alaska Native  language  movements  to prevent  languages                                                              
from dying.   He recalled historical attempts  to "kill" languages                                                              
and  the  need  to  ensure  better   lives  for  all  Alaskans  by                                                              
recognizing  that Alaska  Native languages  are necessary  and are                                                              
linked  to the  health and  wellbeing of  Alaskans.   He made  the                                                              
following recommendations:                                                                                                      
   • elevate the status of teachers of indigenous languages,                                                                    
     which are official languages of the state                                                                                  
   • include an Alaska Native language class in high school                                                                     
     graduation requirements                                                                                                    
   • form a board of Alaska Native language education focused on                                                                
     language nests, K-12 education, higher education, and                                                                      
     teacher development                                                                                                        
MR.  TWITCHELL  cautioned  the problem  with  an  overreliance  on                                                              
existing  educational systems  is that THE  existing systems  were                                                              
active  in  the  genocide  of  Alaska  Native  languages,  and  he                                                              
described  methods used  against  students in  schools to  prevent                                                              
the use  of indigenous languages.   However, in Hawai'i,  language                                                              
revitalization  has  allowed thousands  of  children  to speak  in                                                              
language  schools  that have  a  20-year  history of  100  percent                                                              
graduation  rates.   Mr. Twitchell  said  language fluency  equals                                                              
life  for  indigenous  people.     Alaska  is  at  the  bottom  of                                                              
educational success rates;  to rise to the top, HB  102 would take                                                              
the  state  in  the  right  direction  by  elevating  teachers  of                                                              
indigenous languages.   Currently,  knowledge bearers are  seen as                                                              
paraprofessionals  and   optional  elements  of   curriculum,  and                                                              
therefore  are due  unequal pay.   It  is time  to recognize  that                                                              
indigenous   language  teachers   have  worked   hard  to   become                                                              
qualified  in indigenous  knowledge  systems:   Alaska  is on  the                                                              
cusp of successful  language movements and needs  state support to                                                              
further  advance.   Although  every successful  language  movement                                                              
begins  at  the local  level,  widespread  support and  equity  in                                                              
education  are  needed  to  progress.   Mr.  Twitchell  urged  the                                                              
committee to show  that the state values and  supports teachers of                                                              
Alaska  Native  languages  by legislating  equal  opportunity  and                                                              
systematic equity.                                                                                                              
8:53:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  whether the  bill would ensure  that                                                              
more  culture bearers  would  be teaching  in  schools across  the                                                              
MR.  TWITCHELL  said  yes.    He   opined  the  Type  M  [limited]                                                              
certificate  has served a  purpose, but  the system often  results                                                              
in  a stratification  of  qualification  and value.    He gave  an                                                              
example of  an Alaska  Native language  teacher who receives  very                                                              
low pay  when compared  to that of  other teachers,  which implies                                                              
the superiority  of one over  the other.   Further, the  design of                                                              
core  curriculum  that  excludes  indigenous  languages,  and  the                                                              
structure  of  teacher  certification,   denies  equal  status  to                                                              
teachers of indigenous languages.                                                                                               
8:55:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON remarked:                                                                                               
     ...  you seem  to  have embraced  academics,  to get  to                                                                   
     where you're going,  and a number of the  elders, to me,                                                                   
     have, have  a degree in, in  not only the  language, but                                                                   
     have  a  degree  in  living,   but  it's,  it's  not  as                                                                   
     definable  as what you're  doing.  How  do you  ... mesh                                                                   
     those  two  as  far  as  certification  and  as  far  as                                                                   
MR. TWITCHELL said  the knowledge bearers are fluent  speakers who                                                              
grew  up  speaking  the  language.    Those  who  learn  a  second                                                              
language  are qualified  to  document, and  can  learn methods  to                                                              
teach,  but   "our  language   is  contained   within  our   first                                                              
speakers."    From  his  research,   especially  of  Hawai'i,  New                                                              
Zealand, and Norway,  indigenous peoples have equity  in education                                                              
and  thus  [indigenous  language  and culture]  content  is  fully                                                              
integrated  in the  educational systems,  and is  not excluded  or                                                              
omitted  in a  covert  way,  as it  is  in Alaska,  where  "Alaska                                                              
Native  people and  their  content, their  ways  of knowing  their                                                              
languages,  are  outside of  the  door."   However,  when  highly-                                                              
educated  teachers  are  working  from  within  the  structure  of                                                              
higher education,  the systems  can be  changed, so that  language                                                              
can  be  reintegrated  into  households,  day  care  centers,  and                                                              
schools - and through  a holistic approach - prevent  the death of                                                              
20 Alaska languages.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON observed a  redefinition of  education is                                                              
approaching,   including  the  modernization   of  education   and                                                              
providing access  to information  for all  Alaskan students.   She                                                              
asked  how  language  instruction  -  mostly  through  a  distance                                                              
learning  model   -  could   include  participation   by  cultural                                                              
standard bearers so they can provide culture and mentorship.                                                                    
MR. TWITCHELL  questioned the  belief that  English is  modern and                                                              
indigenous  languages  are  ancient because  both  languages  come                                                              
from  ancient  beginnings.   About  50-60  years  ago,  indigenous                                                              
languages   stopped  being   the   languages  of   daily  use   of                                                              
communication  in Alaska.   He pointed  out all languages  evolve,                                                              
but with disuse  the ability to communicate in  modern terms, even                                                              
in  English,  would be  lost.    In  Hawai'i  there is  a  lexicon                                                              
committee working  to ensure indigenous  languages have  words for                                                              
concepts  such as  gravity,  for  example.   However,  for one  to                                                              
believe science and  math can't be taught in  indigenous languages                                                              
is nothing  but ignorant and prejudiced.   He related  examples of                                                              
how science  is congruent  with  Native life  in past and  present                                                              
times.  Mr. Twitchell  urged for an institutional  change to value                                                              
and support indigenous languages.                                                                                               
9:03:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  for  an opinion  on the  forthcoming                                                              
amendment  that   would  remove  academic  policy   committees  of                                                              
charter schools from the bill.                                                                                                  
MR. TWITCHELL  was unsure whether  the intent of the  amendment is                                                              
that charter  schools are  not specifically  tied to  HB 102.   He                                                              
related the  method of teaching through  language - as  is done in                                                              
New  Zealand and  Hawai'i -  instead of  teaching about  language,                                                              
results in  a rise in fluency.   As an aside, he  noted indigenous                                                              
languages in  Australia are  dying.  He  questioned the  effect of                                                              
the charter school  model on teaching indigenous  languages, or on                                                              
schools  governed  by  Tribes.   In  a  time  of  self-governance,                                                              
partnerships   may   make   funding   available   through   Tribal                                                              
sovereignty,   and  with   some   control   from  the   indigenous                                                              
population,  methods better  than the current  models may  emerge.                                                              
Mr. Twitchell  expressed the need  for a network of  Alaska Native                                                              
language  advocates  who  would   work  to  ensure  that  language                                                              
teachers are trained  to achieve fluency, that  language nests are                                                              
successful,  and   that  there   is  state  support   for  related                                                              
CHAIR DRUMMOND asked for the definition of a language nest.                                                                     
MR.  TWITCHELL  explained  a  language  nest  is  a  preschool  or                                                              
daycare that  is a home where  children are raised in  a language.                                                              
Adults and  children learn  language differently,  related  to the                                                              
grammar  aspect  of  each  language,  and  language  nests  enable                                                              
children to learn  multiple languages simultaneously.   He advised                                                              
in a language nest  kids, ranging in age from six  months to three                                                              
or four years, learn fluent language skills in three months.                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  thanked the speaker  in her native  Greek language                                                              
and stated  her strong support for  teaching language at  an early                                                              
age in an immersion program.                                                                                                    
9:09:05 AM                                                                                                                    
JOSHUA GILL,  Director of  Personnel and  Student Services,  Lower                                                              
Kuskokwim  School  District (LKSD),  stated  LKSD  opposes HB  102                                                              
because the district  has addressed language and  Native languages                                                              
across Alaska  by showing  its students can  learn in  English and                                                              
in Yupik; in fact,  LKSD is working to keep the  Yupik language in                                                              
its   communities  through   a  partnership   with  schools,   the                                                              
communities, and  parents.  One  of the reasons for  opposition is                                                              
just because a person  speaks a language, or is a  genius in math,                                                              
that  doesn't make  them an  excellent  teacher of  a language  or                                                              
math.   The  ability  to teach  is a  specific  skill and  minimum                                                              
proficiencies  in language should  be tested  to ensure  a teacher                                                              
can provide  the best  education possible.   Mr. Gill  referred to                                                              
Alaska  standards in  education  that require  the integration  of                                                              
standards  in  academics  and  [Alaska  Standards  for  Culturally                                                              
Responsive  Schools]  to  ensure  students are  provided  a  well-                                                              
rounded  education.   He  said HB  102  would  remove the  minimum                                                              
proficiency of  a sixth-grade test  to ensure students  are taught                                                              
by the strongest  language instructors.  [LKSD]  seeks to maintain                                                              
the  standard  of  the Type  [I]  teaching  certificate  that  was                                                              
designed  to ensure  teachers complete  teaching methods  courses,                                                              
so  teachers can  teach not  only  their language,  but can  teach                                                              
other  subjects  in  their  language,  such  as  math  and  social                                                              
studies, as  is happening at  LKSD.  Mr.  Gill stated  the current                                                              
law ensures the best education possible for students.                                                                           
9:11:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  asked for the percentage of  the population                                                              
that is now fluent.                                                                                                             
MR. GILL  said LKSD  is about 20  percent Alaska Native  certified                                                              
teachers, which is  the highest percentage in the  state, but more                                                              
are needed.   The district  has developed  a proficiency  test and                                                              
has  determined   LKSD  students  are   at  about  a   45  percent                                                              
proficiency at a sixth-grade Yupik level.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  restated his question as to  the percentage                                                              
of the overall population that is fluent in Yupik.                                                                              
MR. GILL said he did not know.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   PARISH  inquired  as   to  how  the   bill  would                                                              
interfere with the district's efforts.                                                                                          
MR.  GILL  responded   that  the  bill  removes   the  testing  to                                                              
determine  teachers'   proficiency  in   the  language   they  are                                                              
teaching.     Currently,  the  state   uses  the   ParaPro  Praxis                                                              
assessment  which is  equivalent  to a  sixth-grade  exit test  in                                                              
math,  reading,  and  writing.    [LKSD]  requires  a  teacher  or                                                              
associate teacher who  is entering its language program  to pass a                                                              
minimum proficiency  level in reading and writing  in Yupik, which                                                              
is administered at the time of their [job] application.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  pointed   out  the  bill  stipulates  that                                                              
school districts are not subject to the limitation on testing.                                                                  
MR. GILL  acknowledged the  exception; however, minimum  standards                                                              
ensure students  across the  state are  getting the best  language                                                              
instruction and the best education possible.                                                                                    
9:14:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  for the name of the test referred  to by Mr.                                                              
MR. GILL was unsure.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked whether  the bill directly  addresses                                                              
the  concern  that  culture  bearers   receive  a  lower  rate  of                                                              
compensation than other teachers.                                                                                               
9:16:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE     JONATHAN    KREISS-TOMKINS,     Alaska    State                                                              
Legislature,  prime sponsor  of  HB 102,  said [the  compensation]                                                              
issue is  not directly  changed by  the proposed legislation,  but                                                              
would be  indirectly addressed.   As  noted by previous  testimony                                                              
by  the Fronteras  Spanish  Immersion charter  school,  Matanuska-                                                              
Susitna  Borough  School  District,  there  are  no  pathways  for                                                              
teachers  who  are fluent  in  their  subject  matter -  and  have                                                              
teaching  ability -  to be  placed in  classrooms.   As a  result,                                                              
Fronteras   school   hires   language    teachers   as   long-term                                                              
substitutes, although  they are providing the same  experience for                                                              
students as  do teachers who are  fully certificated.   He advised                                                              
the  ability to  do so  would be  an indirect  consequence of  the                                                              
bill.   Although  the  bill does  not  mandate  levels of  teacher                                                              
compensation,  it allows  more flexibility  and  options to  local                                                              
districts  which  choose to  place  a  teacher  holding a  Type  M                                                              
MR. MAGDANZ  added his  research has  shown that language  teacher                                                              
placement  in  Alaska varies  by  district;  for example,  in  the                                                              
Anchorage  School  District  (ASD),  teachers  holding  a  limited                                                              
certificate  are   paid  on  the  same  pay   scale  as  certified                                                              
teachers.   Other  districts do  not,  and he  offered to  provide                                                              
additional  information  on  this  issue  from DEED  at  a  future                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  for  comment  on the  aforementioned                                                              
amendment that would  delete "or the academic policy  committee of                                                              
the charter school."                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS    assured   the   committee   the                                                              
amendment is  supported by  the sponsors and  does not  affect the                                                              
intent of the bill.                                                                                                             
9:20:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER  referred   to  testimony  in  support  of                                                              
minimum  testing and  asked  how competency  [to  teach a  certain                                                              
subject] should be demonstrated.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  explained the  underlying  premise                                                              
of the bill  is that one size  does not fit all; in  fact, nothing                                                              
about HB  102 forces a  school district,  such as LKSD,  to change                                                              
its procedures.   The bill creates more options  for Alaska school                                                              
districts to use  the resources to which each  school district has                                                              
access.   For  example, the  Yukon-Kuskokwim [Delta]  area is  the                                                              
heartland of  knowledge for Alaska  Native languages,  and thereby                                                              
has a  larger pool of  expertise on which  to draw.  On  the other                                                              
hand,  in the  Annette  Island School  District,  there are  fewer                                                              
than  20 fluent  speakers  of Sm'algyax,  so  more flexibility  is                                                              
needed.   Representative  Kreiss-Tompkins restated  the intent  of                                                              
the bill is to  allow school districts and school  boards, that do                                                              
not  have  the   immense  expertise  available  to   LKSD,  to  be                                                              
responsive to local expertise.                                                                                                  
MR.  MAGDANZ  added  that  the   renewal  period,  and  any  other                                                              
provisions in  the bill, will be  addressed to ensure  there would                                                              
be no effect on LKSD's programs.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER surmised  the  concern raised  by LKSD  is                                                              
that the  bill removes the "floor"  as to the qualifications  of a                                                              
classroom   teacher;   the  school   board   -  or   without   the                                                              
aforementioned  amendment,  the academic  policy  committee -  can                                                              
decide that  a teacher is qualified  to teach any  subject because                                                              
he/she can speak  a certain language.  He asked if  the sponsor is                                                              
opposed  to having  minimum proficiency  [requirements] placed  in                                                              
the bill.                                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   said  testimony  from   ASD,  the                                                              
Matanuska-Susitna  Borough School  District,  and others  revealed                                                              
that having to pass  a nonexistent calculus exam in  Tlingit is an                                                              
unreasonable expectation.   He opined  [the bill ensures  there is                                                              
a floor]  because the  floor is  a qualitative  evaluation,  and a                                                              
procedural  floor, in  that to  be certificated  one must  receive                                                              
approval  from  the  school  board  and  DEED  on  a  case-by-case                                                              
evaluation.     Therefore,   the   qualifications   of  a   highly                                                              
specialized  teacher are  reviewed  by the  community, the  school                                                              
district,  and the school  administration,  and he concluded  [the                                                              
foregoing] comprise a reasonable standard.                                                                                      
MR.  MAGDANZ  restated  the  State   Board  of  Education  retains                                                              
regulatory authority  related to teacher qualifications  under the                                                              
proposed  legislation.    In  regard to  the  Praxis  testing,  he                                                              
pointed out  teachers hired  to teach  a non-English language  and                                                              
who may have  learned English as a second language,  are currently                                                              
required to pass a test conducted in English.                                                                                   
9:29:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP turned  to  a larger  issue:   the danger  of                                                              
attempting  to separate fact  from meaning.   Human  understanding                                                              
includes  facts  in  context  and  in  meaning;  the  bill  offers                                                              
spiritual healing  to those who learn an indigenous  language, and                                                              
offers  a capacity  to heal and  a powerful  feeling of  wholeness                                                              
for peoples  and culture.   He opined  the accountability  piece -                                                              
the [teacher  qualification]  floor -  can best  be judged  by the                                                              
local  school boards  and  the parents  of  the  children who  are                                                              
learning a language.   In fact, the program will  not be supported                                                              
if it does not  promote success in the lives of  the children when                                                              
they go  out in the  world.  Representative  Kopp stated  the bill                                                              
recognizes  that people  seek meaning  in education  and that  the                                                              
most important  aspect of a  child's education  is not found  in a                                                              
textbook, but in a teacher.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DRUMMOND read  from a  document included  in the  committee                                                              
packet entitled, "HB  102 - Response to concerns  of Department of                                                              
Education and Early Development" as follows:                                                                                    
     HB  102   requires  teachers  who  are   issued  limited                                                                   
     certificates  to  demonstrate  content  area  expertise,                                                                   
     and  provides multiple  checks to  ensure that  teachers                                                                   
     do not enter the classroom without such expertise.                                                                         
CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  how teachers would demonstrate  content area                                                              
MR.  MAGDANZ   referred  to  the   current  language   in  limited                                                              
certificate  regulations   related  to   the  expertise   that  is                                                              
required  for certificates  issued  for Alaska  Native  languages,                                                              
Alaska  Native culture,  and vocational  education.   He said  the                                                              
regulations   state  documents   that  demonstrate  subject   area                                                              
knowledge  can be  industry certifications,  or  evidence of  work                                                              
experience.   In  the case  of Native  language  and culture,  the                                                              
certification  can  be based  on  letters of  recommendation  from                                                              
knowledgeable  sources,  and  resumes that  reflect  past  related                                                              
experiences.  Mr.  Magdanz said there are "creative  and different                                                              
ways  to determine  on a  case-by-case basis  whether someone  has                                                              
the skills  to be  in the  classroom ...."   He provided  examples                                                              
such as a demonstration  of language fluency, the use  of a sixth-                                                              
grade level written  test, classroom observation, and  a review of                                                              
student outcomes.                                                                                                               
9:36:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  directed attention to HB 102  on page 1,                                                              
beginning on line 13, which read:                                                                                               
     (b)   A  person  may   apply  for   a  limited   teacher                                                                   
     certificate  under this  section  if the  person is  the                                                                   
     subject  of a  request made  under (c)  of this  section                                                                   
     and  demonstrates, as  required  by regulations  adopted                                                                   
     by the  board, instructional  skills and subject  matter                                                                   
     expertise  sufficient  to  assure the  public  that  the                                                                   
     person is competent as a teacher.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  opined [demonstration of  expertise] can                                                              
be achieved  at the local level  by local priorities that  are not                                                              
defined by the  state, and pointed out the priorities  of Hydaburg                                                              
[City  School District]  would  be different  from  those of  ASD.                                                              
She related  how two of  her children expanded  their view  of the                                                              
world  by  their  experience  in   a  Spanish  language  immersion                                                              
program, and expressed  her confidence the bill  would not [lower]                                                              
the skill level of classroom teachers.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE    KREISS-TOMKINS,     speaking    from    personal                                                              
experience, said  he is inspired  by language immersion  programs,                                                              
which  bring   a  meaningful  cultural   education,  as   well  as                                                              
language,  in a  transformative way.   He  opined the  opportunity                                                              
for students to  reconnect with their language and  culture is the                                                              
deepest  form of  education, and  can change  students' lives  for                                                              
the better.                                                                                                                     
9:41:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH moved Amendment  1, labeled  30-LS0237\D.1,                                                              
Glover, 3/7/17, which read:                                                                                                     
     Page 2, lines 7 - 8:                                                                                                       
        Delete "or the academic policy committee of the                                                                         
     charter school"                                                                                                            
     Page 2, line 20:                                                                                                           
          Delete "or academic policy committee"                                                                                 
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
9:42:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND closed public testimony.                                                                                         
HB 102 was held over.                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects