Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/13/1996 03:07 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 465 - TEACHER EMPLOYMENT/PUB SCHL BARGAINING Number 455 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Tom Wright, Legislative Aide to Representative Ivan to present the sponsor statement for HB 465. TOM WRIGHT, Legislative Aide to Representative Ivan Ivan, read the following sponsor statement: Representative Ivan introduced House Bill 465 to allow our school districts a degree of flexibility when dealing with increased costs associated with our educational system. House Bill 465 would allow school districts to lay off teachers who have acquired tenure rights, but only if the school district finds it necessary to reduce the number of teachers due to declining enrollment or declining revenues. Qualifications for rehire purposes are also established in this bill. The bill also increases tenure from two to three years and removes the costly trial de novo portion of our statutes which allows a school district employee who, if not satisfied with a district led investigation, to go to the court system to begin an entirely new trial. The district's investigation, most often, must be recreated. The deletion of the trial de novo provides our educators the same protections as provided to other state employees. New procedures for appealing a decision to dismiss or nonretain a tenured teacher are established in House Bill 465. The record established during the various hearings will be available for use if a suit is filed in superior court. An extensive evaluation system and an improvement of performance plan is included in House Bill 465. The evaluation system can be used for nonretention purposes. Should a tenured or nontenured teacher receive a less than acceptable evaluation, a plan of improvement would be imposed. If, after imposition of the plan of improvement, the teacher receives another less than acceptable evaluation, the teacher is subject to nonretention. Sections 2 and 4 of House Bill 465 apply only to those teachers who are hired after the bill is signed into law. The remaining sections of the bill dealing with loss of tenure rights, evaluations, layoff and rehire and elimination of trial de novo go into effect after the bill is signed and will have an effect on all teachers. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Representative Ivan to join Mr. Wright at the witness table. Number 594 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG asked Representative Ivan if he was planning on or if he would prepare a comparison of the various bills dealing with this issue. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN, Prime sponsor of HB 465, responded that the majority of the elements of HB 217 were incorporated in HB 465. He said they also took into consideration some of the issues brought up by the task force on House Bill 217 and the position statements of the Association of the Alaska School Boards. He believes this is a better bill than the bill he sponsored last year. He views it as a good tool for the various school districts, villages and parents. Number 649 TOM RICHARDS testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He said there are some good items in this bill, but some that he feels totally undermine its effectiveness. He commented on the process and approach that makes teachers feel like they haven't been included in this process. In a comparison of the Governor's bill and Representative Ivan's bill, he thought the peer review had some possibilities, but providing for peer review without any training is not good and undermines the effectiveness of this bill. With regard to observation, he said HB 465 calls for one observation and evaluation of each teacher. There needs to be some multiple approaches to that in order to take a good look at whether the teacher is effective or not. Representative Ivan's bill offers no in-service training and he felt that says something about teachers in general and how the legislature feels about what they do. In fact, he thought the timing of the teleconference sent a message in that the high schools are the only schools out by 3:00 p.m. and the only teachers available to testify. He referred to the reduction in force issue and mentioned that Representative Ivan's bill offers three criteria: 1) during the school year, the district determines there will be a decrease of at least 2 percent per pupil revenue in the next year. He thought the contingency funds could certainly handle a 2 percent dip and the school districts could use that as a punitive measure; 2) school district's revenue has failed to keep pace with inflation over the last five years. He commented that rainy day funds are for situations like this; and 3) school board has determined it is unable to meet its financial obligations. His concern is this could be used to clean house and once that was accomplished, the school board would find additional money. Relating to unacceptable performance, he said Representative Ivan's bill contains a large paragraph concerning only one evaluation, one observation and a one-year plan of improvement. He asked the committee to consider William Demming's approach to management and quality control. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that Mr. Demming's approach is for everyone to be happy in a win/win situation. CO-CHAIR BUNDE added that as a former teacher, he shared some of Mr. Richard's frustration about teacher involvement. However, Co- Chair Bunde has been involved with this issue over the last two years and has begged the teachers in his district to get involved and quite frankly, the teachers that have tenure are not very concerned and have been ignoring the issue. It is not the committee's intent to ignore teacher participation, but it was vastly limited the last time this issue came before the legislature. MR. RICHARDS volunteered his telephone number and said if the committee at any time has any questions concerning secondary education, he would be happy to respond. Number 861 VINCE SPERANGE testified from Anchorage that he wanted to address the aspect of Representative Ivan's bill that calls for the ability to terminate a tenured teacher. Under current law, there are three criteria, one of which is incompetence which is defined as the inability to perform a teacher's customary duties. He thinks that an ill-considered change in the bill is the substitute that states that failure to receive an evaluation that is acceptable after an imposition of a plan of improvement would be grounds for termination. His concern is the plan of improvement and the aspects of the criteria are not defined. So a plan of improvement could be drafted because of a teacher's win/lose record as a coach, or because they are not volunteering enough after the work day. Effectively, it would allow a person's career to be ended based on a plan of improvement which the teacher had no input or is not necessarily related to their performance as a teacher. He stressed this is a serious consideration; this is a person who has chosen a career path in which they've invested tens of thousands of dollars to achieve and must maintain a certificate to continue in that career, yet this would allow a relatively arbitrary criteria to be the factor determining their loss of a job. He supports the Governor's compromise bill and believes it to be a good alternative that should be considered. BILL MUNROE, President, Classified Employees Association, Mat-Su Borough School District, testified via teleconference. He expressed his opposition to various parts of this bill. On page 2, line 28, Section 3 (c), he said there will be a cost associated and it appeared to him to be an unfunded mandate. He asked what the financial impact would be on a district of having to train people to evaluate employees. As the local association president, he has had opportunity to watch people go through plans of improvement for various reasons. Some times the reasons for a plan of improvement are legitimate employer concerns, but sometimes not. There are times when it is used as a tool to improve an employee's performance and sometimes not. He has seen evaluations that have been abused or ignored. To say that a teacher can be terminated because they fail to meet a plan of improvement with no other recourse, is probably giving too much power to an administrator with that particular tool. In his view, the plan of improvement should be used particularly to improve an employee's performance. Sometimes that is not possible, but there are ways of dealing with tenured teachers, and those ways have worked when management exercised its right to evaluate employees fairly. Number 1090 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Mr. Munroe had a position on the part of the bill that would involve an evaluation of administrators. MR. MUNROE said there exists ample opportunity for administration evaluation. In his school district, they have what is called (indisc.) and various other standardized policy procedures instituted by the school board that allow for evaluation of any employee whether it be the superintendent or the custodian. He felt there was a viable working process in place that addressed those concerns. MR. WRIGHT referenced Mr. Munroe's question regarding the costs involved for the evaluation system and said there would be costs involved in training someone to use the evaluation system no matter what evaluation system is used, whether it's in HB 398, HB 217 or HB 465. He added they have not tried to figure out what the cost would be for these systems; that's something the local school district would undertake. CO-CHAIR BUNDE questioned if there was a fiscal note reflecting those costs. MR. WRIGHT responded not for the local school districts. The attached fiscal note is from the Department of Education who has stated there would be no fiscal impact of the department. This impact would be undertaken by each school district. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the unfunded mandate then has some validity, but that would be a cost the district would have to address in their budget. MR. WRIGHT replied that if the evaluations suggested by the task force or in any other legislation were going to be imposed, he didn't think there was a way to avoid unfunded mandates in any relationship between the state and districts or local government. Number 1206 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY said it was his understanding that we're trying to change from the current mediation/litigation procedure that has a different cost to each school district to the evaluation process which would be no more expensive, and hopefully less expensive, than the current process. MR. WRIGHT said it is also their hope to improve the quality of education. He pointed out there are excellent teachers throughout the system and children are receiving a good education, but there are some teachers who are not up to standard with other teachers. The approach under this bill would be to do the evaluation, go to the plan of improvement and reevaluate again. The goal is to improve the quality of education anyway we can. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the intent was the evaluation system would be no more expensive or perhaps cheaper than the current system of arbitration and litigation. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he believed that costs would still be incurred in staff management in various districts. House Bill 465 is trying to improve performance of teachers. It is his understanding there are costs incurred with cases that are currently in the courts. This legislation addresses the trial de novo portion of the statute. Number 1362 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked Representative Ivan if he could briefly explain the system proposed under HB 465 versus the current system for nonretaining a teacher. What are the steps leading to trial de novo? MR. WRIGHT said the steps being proposed under HB 465 in place of the trial de novo are for dismissal: (1) a pre-termination hearing; (2) school board for a decision; (3) arbitration; and (4) superior court. For nonretention, the pre-termination hearing is the school board hearing, then arbitration and superior court on appeal. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE verified that it's pre-termination, school board, arbitration and then superior court. He asked what the current process is. MR. WRIGHT replied he wasn't certain if there was a pre-termination hearing, but there's a hearing at the school board level, then it can go to superior court. But the problem with going to superior court under the current system is a whole new record can be established. The record established at the school board hearing is not valid in superior court. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked which record under HB 465 would be established at the superior court - the pre-termination, school board or the arbitration? MR. WRIGHT replied the record would begin with the first hearing and be carried through the process. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE clarified that new information could be opened up at each of the three levels and at no point during the three step process would the findings be shut off. MR. WRIGHT responded that was his understanding. He added there can be new findings, but the record that is established at the first hearing follows through the process. There is, however, nothing to preclude someone from coming through with new findings. Number 1526 DAVE PARSONS testified from Fairbanks in opposition to HB 465 because he feels it has some problems. The evaluation process raises a red flag with him. The evaluation is a relatively simple process in his job as custodian because a person can come in after he's done and tell whether or not he's done a good job. He added that basically any person off the street could come in and do an evaluation. However, when it involves teachers, the process gets a bit more complicated. First, a person can begin to wonder what the motivations are for an evaluation; for example, if a school district is having a problem meeting its financial obligations, there could be an attempt to get rid of teachers that the district wouldn't have been able to get rid of otherwise with these so- called plans of improvement, which may or may not be realistic. CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that Representative Gail Phillips, Speaker of the House, had joined the meeting. Speaking for the school board in Anchorage, Co-Chair Bunde said they were highly motivated and jealously guard their powers and he doubted if they would accept anyone off the street to make any decisions for them. Number 1692 LELA AYRES testified from Anchorage that she is a third grade teacher and one of her concerns is the plan of improvement. She was part of the Mat-Su committee that developed an evaluation process for the district. The committee consisting of central office administrators, principals from every level and teachers, worked for over two years to refine the evaluation process they are now working with. A plan of improvement was one part of that process; it was a tool to be used when the principal saw the need. She feels HB 465 reduces the plan of improvement to a weapon that principals might be reluctant to use. It is too open-ended and ill-defined. She urged the committee to support the Governor's compromise bill. There was time and effort spent by all aspects of the community to develop that bill and it addresses everything that is of concern to the committee. CO-CHAIR BUNDE observed that unfortunately the Governor's compromise bill did not involve all aspects of the community. He didn't believe it involved any legislators and that might have been a useful inclusion. Number 1770 LUCY HOPE testified from Anchorage that she is concerned with the provisions of HB 465 regarding the imposition of a plan of improvement. She said when we, as teachers, develop an individual education plan or an individual discipline plan for a student, the student or the parents of the student are always involved in the process. In fact, the law requires they be involved in the development process. It seems that teachers who are in need of an individualized plan of improvement need to have involvement in that process and in evaluating their progress. Plans of improvement need to be stated in measurable terms and require ongoing monitoring. There are no provisions for any of those in this bill. It is her feeling that a teacher could fail to meet a plan of improvement because the plan is too vague, the time limits were not specified or the goals could be impossible to achieve. If plans of improvement are to be part of the law, it seems that the concerns also need to be addressed just as they are for the student plans that are currently in the law. CO-CHAIR BUNDE advised Ms. Hope that her concerns had been noted by Representative Ivan's staff. Number 1872 GAYLE PIERCE testified from Fairbanks regarding the removal of the trial de novo. She said she was having difficulty understanding the provisions of the bill and wanted to ask some questions of Representative Ivan. She wanted to know who does the advisory arbitration award advise. It was her understanding that the advisory arbitrator's decision would provide advice to the school board. As far as she can tell, it is only the school board that is (indisc.) to make the decision about the retention or nonretention of the teacher. She asked if that was a correct understanding or does the advisory arbitration advise the court. She added that didn't make sense to her because changing to a judicial review from a trial de nova suggests that it is only a procedural review. It was her understanding from reading the bill that by removing the trial de novo or by not going by a binding arbitrator's report, it removes any independent or neutral third party decision making. She referred to the layoff provision and asked if it wasn't true that given the funding in the last several years, every district right now meets the test of not keeping pace with inflation. It's her understanding that if this bill was enacted, every district would immediately qualify for decisions with regard to tenured teacher layoff. MR. WRIGHT referred to page 6, line 30, which states "If the school board sustains the dismissal or nonretention, the teacher is entitled to mandatory advisory arbitration conducted by a neutral third party." The feeling is that if it will strengthen the teacher's case, they are entitled to it. It certainly is not something the teacher has to undergo; they can go to superior court from the school board decision, if so desired. In regards to Ms. Pierce's second question, Mr. Wright said he didn't know if every school district would meet the test of not keeping pace with inflation, but thinks there are some that definitely meet that. Number 2085 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if inflation was calculated into the bill. MR. WRIGHT asked what Representative Rokeberg meant by calculated. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the witness testified that inflation would cause a triple (indisc.) in terms of the layoff provisions. MR. WRIGHT directed the committee's attention to page 4, line 23, "the school board has determined that the district revenue averaged over the past five school years has failed to keep pace, for the same period, with inflation or the cost of changes in the requirements imposed on the district by state and state law;". CO-CHAIR BUNDE speculated that the majority of districts in Alaska have not kept pace with inflation, certainly not the last four years when there has been flat funding. MR. WRIGHT added that it's conceivable that every school district probably could make that statement. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if this was something that was borrowed from the Governor's bill. MR. WRIGHT said no. TAPE 96-11, SIDE A Number 007 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON inquired if a list of those districts that have kept pace with inflation, if there is any, could be obtained through the department or the sponsor. MR. WRIGHT added he thought they were trying to come up with an interpretation of a financial emergency, rather than leaving it vague as it is in HB 217 and HB 398. Number 100 RICHARD MAUER, Member, Delta/Greely School District, testified in the capacity of legislative liaison for his school board. He believes HB 465 contains many excellent tools that are going to help in the Delta/Greely district. Specifically, he wanted to address the provision for layoffs based on declining student enrollment. He said in his school district, there is a military base that has been placed on the base realignment and closure list. Between now and the year 2001, the base will be nearly closed down completely. The impact on the district's student enrollment is dramatic. Currently, they have 890 students and by the year 2001, they are forecasting less than 500 students. Under current law, if teaching staff is reduced they have to nonretain and then go by their negotiated agreement for seniority as far as what staff is kept after they've gotten rid of the nontenured staff. Under the provisions of HB 465, it would give them, as a district, the opportunity to implement a plan to maintain their programs. He said an example is the district's science program where their chemistry teacher has no seniority; she has just gained tenure. As they reduce their students and the district has to nonretain, those teachers with low seniority are the ones who will be going out the door along with their science program. Under the provisions of this legislation, the district's plan could be implemented as to which programs they want to keep and then institute layoff. It is helpful for the kids, but it also helps the teaching staff because they are not nonretaining teaching staff. If there is an economic increase which brings the student population back up, these teachers could be brought back on. Number 365 DEB GERMANO, Member, Kenai Peninsula School Board, testified she is newly elected and is serving as the legislative liaison for the board. She referenced the previous comments regarding an emergency situation of a district, and said it needed to be understood that school boards want to do what is best for the children. There are 37 sites in the Kenai Peninsula School District. An emergency situation of laying off is not something they anticipate; they are always looking to increase staff not decrease it. She said it would be nice for them to have the flexibility to layoff staff in the emergency situations, but the intent is not there for the Kenai Peninsula School District or for that matter any other district, to look at laying off people to gain money for other things. With reference to the evaluation process, she thought there was some compromise or adjustments that needed to be made. She believes it is very important and needed to ensure that the staff is the best they could have for the children. A quality education is what we all want for our children and this gives the school boards local control to address the needs of the children locally. The school boards are the people who are looking at the kids. Number 559 MARILYN LEEHY, President, Valdez School District, testified this is an important piece of legislation for the Valdez School District both in terms of the layoff provision and the professional standards they would like to be able to establish and maintain in their schools. She mentioned that concern had been expressed about what those standards are, but as elected officials, it is their obligation, job and duty to ensure that professionals are up to those professional standards. She commented the Valdez School District has those standards in place now, but they aren't necessarily enforced because whether or not they are applied doesn't affect the schools. She said, "We'd like to have the opportunity to make sure that if these standards are in place, that they mean something and that we can do more than determine which teachers are incompetent, but also have some way of determining whether or not they are actually performing to an adequate standard; at least a satisfactory standard and there's a big difference which I think this bill addresses between whether or not a teacher is incompetent, which is cause for removal at the moment, as to whether or not that person can be retained in the district because their performance satisfies the standards that have been established." MS. LEEHY addressed the issue of process for removal and said it was important for committee members to know that when the school board meets to review this issue, they meet as a quasi-judicial body and they are bound by rules of law. They put together a full legal process and after that legal process is complete, after the rules of law have been established, they have to do it again. This legislation provides that once that record has been established - the conditions have been met for making sure the rights of the individual have been maintained, then that individual has the right to go on from there and review the school board's work in superior court to make sure the board did what they were supposed to do in the proper way, but not to start all over again from ground zero. The effect of that is to make it very difficult for school boards to afford the process of enforcing the standards they like to see. Number 727 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy's reaction to the notion of this being an unfunded mandate and school districts having to spend some time and money establishing an evaluation procedure. MS. LEEHY said she thought the assumption was that the school districts were not already doing that. She believes this could be used to improve the evaluation process and it may indeed cause some problems in the smaller districts for organizing the access to put together the plan. It is not to say the districts aren't already evaluating or don't already have instruments in place. It's part of the operating expenses and part of what is already done. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy as a school board member, to conceptualize how an evaluation team might be put together. MS. LEEHY replied there were professionals to do that. They employ a staff who are highly paid and well-trained. This bill provides for input and she didn't think their obligations should be pushed off onto people who don't have the training. She thinks this bill also provides that if the school board does it wrong, they are accountable for it. If these standards are not applied properly, it will come back on her on election day. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she anticipated a problem establishing the peer review portion of the legislation. MS. LEEHY responded she did. She thinks it is unfair to ask teachers to comment on another teacher's adequacy for employment. She feels that's what the school board gets paid to do and they establish the standards. There is a great deal of opportunity for personal perspectives to color the judgment of one teacher to another. The principals and administrators are the ones who see the overall view of the school and are best suited to accomplish that. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she thought teachers were professionals and able to judge competent teaching. MS. LEEHY said she thinks teachers are professionals, but she hopes their entire orientation is looking for the best in the people around them and try to encourage and magnify that. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Valdez had a teacher mentoring program instead of a teacher review process. MS. LEEHY responded they didn't, but she thinks it is an excellent idea, but it would involve some money. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referenced Ms. Leehy's previous statement regarding the issue of incompetency as a cause for nonretention and remarked that HB 465 replaces that with the plan of improvement. He asked if that would take a tool away from the school board and create a situation where a teacher would not be able to be removed for one year, because the plan of improvement in HB 465 allows for an entire year of evaluation. MS. LEEHY said she wasn't worried about that because they don't hire incompetent teachers. She added that after the evaluation period, there is no reason why they should have an incompetent teacher. If something has happened to a teacher that is causing them to not perform at the standard, she wants to be able to work with that teacher. The school district has invested a great deal in their professionals and the stability of the district and the staff is of importance to them. Number 1030 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Education, said the department recognizes the hard work that Representative Ivan has devoted to these difficult issues both last year and again this year. This bill, HB 465, does incorporate the "subject areas" contained also in the Governor's compromise bill, but deals with the subject areas in a different way. She said the Department of Education agrees these five issues can be addressed in legislation this year: Lengthening the teacher probationary period; improving the teacher evaluation process; increasing public information in the collective bargaining process; eliminating the trial de novo, which has been an expense to school districts; and increase the school district's ability to determine how and when teachers are laid off. The department believes that a bill amending these items needs to be carefully crafted so the best information and the broadest consensus is available. MS. HOMME stated this Administration's bill contained all of these issues, as well. Each one of these issues can be addressed in a bill the Administration can support. The department is willing to work with Representative Ivan, the HESS Committee and others. Commissioner Holloway has met with Representative Ivan and has requested his cooperation in this endeavor. Representative Ivan has agreed to meet to discuss possible changes. The department would like to work through the unacceptable provisions of the legislation and explore possible changes with him. MS. HOMME presented a brief history of the various bills. The Governor vetoed HB 217 last year because it was felt that it didn't adequately address the real issues of the education system. The Governor promised to work on the problems that face the rural school boards especially and asked Commissioner Holloway to form a group of people to work on the issues and take a fresh approach to studying the contentious issues of HB 217. Thus, the development of HB 398 which the department thinks will promote excellence in education. Involved in that group were a variety of people, not legislators as Representative Bunde duly noted, but parents, teachers, school board members, the State Board of Education, school administrators and the university. All of the issues in HB 217 were contained in HB 398. MS. HOMME advised that HB 465 would be acceptable to the department if it contained provisions that need to be made to better reflect the compromise piece of legislation. As it is written, it is divisive in the education community. She noted that committee members had been provided a packet which included a list of resolutions that came from all the different varieties of education community groups; i.e., Association of School Boards, elementary principals, secondary principals, et cetera. In summary, Ms. Homme said these different groups felt these issues could be addressed this year. The department believes they can work with the sponsor to deal with some of the potentially divisive issues in HB 465. Number 1284 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards, summarized that he made an attempt to try to address HB 465 from the standpoint of quality, performance, fairness and accountability. If there are measures in this piece of legislation that's threatening, he really wants to discuss them. He said he was willing to work with anyone to address those issues and added there were a number of things that have been of concern to school board members. As everyone is aware, they are elected officials; they are held accountable and are responsible for the oversight of the school districts. They are asking for the authority to do some things that affect the quality of education. Unfortunately, the school boards may get those tools as a result of financial emergency. The Association of Alaska School Boards thinks these tools should be in place for their use currently. They need the money to operate the schools. In the absence of that and if the school has an emergency, the tools are needed to ensure that the programs that are provided or the qualifications that are going to be determined are not negotiable, but determined by local elected officials. He would like the opportunity to discuss that issue with committee members. Number 1350 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators, asked that the record reflect their concern with the section of the bill that deals with the dismissal of the administrator if the responsibilities of the evaluation process are not carried out. He noted the Alaska Council of School Administrators has submitted some substitute language to the sponsor, which he understood is a friendly amendment being considered by Representative Ivan. He added the council had other comments regarding the rest of the bill which he would like the opportunity to discuss at a later time. Number 1391 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced the HESS Committee would hear HB 465 again at the request of the sponsor. He understood there would be additional work done on the bill, so rather than give a date certain, it will be heard again at the request of the sponsor. The hearing will be noticed and additional time allotted for testimony. Number 1404 CAREN ROBINSON said she would like to have a comparison of the different bills that deal with this issue. She expressed her desire to sit down in a working group and come up with a bill that could be supported by all HESS committee members. She appreciates all the work done by the sponsor and has made her concerns known to the department that it was an unfortunate mistake not to include Representative Ivan in the group. She commented the perspectives which come from the rural areas are very different from the urban areas and she is hopeful that in looking at this issue, they can be sensitive to those different perspectives.