Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/03/2016 03:30 PM Senate EDUCATION

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Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
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Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 107(EDC) AM Out of Committee
          SB 84-LANG. IMMERSION SCHOOLS/TEACHER CERTS.                                                                      
3:43:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced the consideration of SB 84.                                                                            
SENATOR  DONALD OLSON,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor  of SB
84, introduced his staff.                                                                                                       
CORDELIA  KELLIE,  Staff,  Senator   Donny  Olson,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  presented information  on SB  84 on  behalf of  the                                                               
sponsor. She  welcomed the  committee in  the Yupik  language and                                                               
then read from the following statement:                                                                                         
     Before  you is  SB  84.  The goal  of  the  bill is  to                                                                    
     provide   a  more   efficient  route   towards  teacher                                                                    
     certification than  the current framework by  making it                                                                    
     easier for language immersion  charter schools to exist                                                                    
     in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
     Immersion schools are proven  to be the most successful                                                                    
     model  for second  language  acquisition, teaching  not                                                                    
     just  the language,  but teaching  content through  the                                                                    
     language. The  benefits of attaining a  second language                                                                    
     are widely  researched and are  found to  be cerebrally                                                                    
     additive,  with   language  immersion   not  displacing                                                                    
     ability  in   English  development  and   studies,  but                                                                    
     providing many  cognitive and scholastic  benefits that                                                                    
     allow students  to often perform at  higher levels than                                                                    
     their monolingual peers.                                                                                                   
     Alaska is  home to several successful  language schools                                                                    
     and programs, such as Rilka  Schula, a German immersion                                                                    
     school  in Anchorage,  Fronteras,  a Spanish  immersion                                                                    
     school  in  Wasilla,  and Ayaprun,  a  Yupik  immersion                                                                    
     school in Bethel. SB 84  contains provisions that would                                                                    
     make it more effectual  for existing language immersion                                                                    
     schools  and   programs  like   these  to   operate  by                                                                    
     providing  pathways  nontraditional  teachers  to  come                                                                    
     into  the classroom,  who have  the necessary  language                                                                    
     skills and abilities, but may  not have a baccalaureate                                                                    
     degree attained through traditional means.                                                                                 
     Last year, Alaska received  national press when studies                                                                    
     showed our largest city, housing  nearly half the state                                                                    
     population,  was home  to the  top  three most  diverse                                                                    
     high schools  in the nation. Alaska  is leading America                                                                    
     as a hub of culture  and language; the Anchorage School                                                                    
     District is  responding, for example, by  expanding its                                                                    
     World  Languages   program  to  include   Japanese  and                                                                    
     Chinese.  SB  84  provides the  necessary  avenues  and                                                                    
     regulatory framework  to be thusly  responsive, growing                                                                    
     and supporting our communities statewide  as a place of                                                                    
     culture and languages, both indigenous and introduced.                                                                     
     This  bill  accomplishes  this  through  the  following                                                                    
     provisions: It  creates a new designation  for language                                                                    
     immersion charter  school respond to the  robust demand                                                                    
     for  more  immersion  teachers,  schools,  and  program                                                                    
     growth.  These  language  immersion schools  will  have                                                                    
     high statutory standards for both  the teachers and the                                                                    
     school  structure. This  bill would  also allow  people                                                                    
     who are  proficient in the  language to be part  of the                                                                    
     academic  policy committee;  in  current statute,  only                                                                    
     school employees, teachers, and parents can.                                                                               
     It allows  a pathway for  a greater number  of teachers                                                                    
     to get into the  classroom through the following means:                                                                    
     Any traditionally  certified teacher who happens  to be                                                                    
     or becomes a speaker of  a language and wishes to teach                                                                    
     in that language can now  do so by this bill's creation                                                                    
     of  a language  immersion  endorsement. An  endorsement                                                                    
     helps the  teacher learn how  to teach in  an immersion                                                                    
     environment.  This  is  one   avenue  of  getting  more                                                                    
     teachers into the immersion classroom.                                                                                     
     Currently, limited  teaching certificates  - Type  M in                                                                    
     regulation -  are good for vocational  training, Alaska                                                                    
     Native  language  and  culture, and  military  science;                                                                    
     this bill  removes the language  component and  puts it                                                                    
     in  its  own  limited  teaching  certificate  category.                                                                    
     This  bill  also  expands  this  new  limited  teaching                                                                    
     certificate  to  include   world  languages,  not  just                                                                    
     Alaska Native language.                                                                                                    
     Limited  language  certificates   are  similar  to  the                                                                    
     current   "Type   M"    certificates,   but   will   be                                                                    
     specifically  for languages  and  issued  by the  tribe                                                                    
     that the  state can  choose to  recognize. A  tribe has                                                                    
     the  local knowledge  regarding who  is fluent  and has                                                                    
     the  ability to  teach in  that language.  Other states                                                                    
     such as Arizona, Wisconsin  and California have already                                                                    
     passed  legislation to  get tribes  more involved  with                                                                    
     education,  realizing  the   importance  of  preserving                                                                    
     local languages.                                                                                                           
     As we continue  to work on and develop  this bill, your                                                                    
     feedback  and  questions  are  greatly  appreciated  in                                                                    
     shaping legislation to nourish  this very exciting time                                                                    
     in  our state.  Thank  you very  much  for hearing  the                                                                    
3:49:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY requested a sectional analysis of the bill.                                                                      
MS. KELLIE read:                                                                                                                
Section 1  requires the charter  contract between a  school board                                                               
and  a language  immersion charter  school to  contain provisions                                                               
requiring compliance with Section 2.                                                                                            
Section  2  creates  a  subcategory  of  charter  schools  called                                                               
language immersion  charter schools  applying all the  same rules                                                               
as  existing charter  schools, the  same procedure  for applying,                                                               
and the same  funding formula. It requires the  charter school to                                                               
spend 50  percent of  its instruction hours  in a  language other                                                               
than  English.  It holds  these  schools  to  a higher  bar  than                                                               
currently exists. It requires immersion  teachers to have mastery                                                               
in the  target language and  have had some training  in immersion                                                               
education. It  requires immersion teachers to  also have cultural                                                               
knowledge  and  allows  them  to serve  on  the  academic  policy                                                               
committee  of  the charter  school  in  addition to  parents  and                                                               
school employees. It would require  the academic policy committee                                                               
to  work  with  Department  of Education  and  Early  Development                                                               
(DEED) to develop  a plan for reaching the  50 percent benchmark,                                                               
should  it not  be in  place. Section  2 also  requires immersion                                                               
teachers  to  have  additional immersion-specific  training,  but                                                               
exempts  teachers teaching  classes in  the non-immersion  target                                                               
language  from  the  requirement  to hold  a  language  immersion                                                               
3:50:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Section 3 creates a language immersion endorsement.                                                                             
Section  4 deals  with the  limited  teacher certificate  program                                                               
(Type M).  The section removes  Alaska Native languages  from the                                                               
list  of  subjects certificate  holders  are  eligible to  teach,                                                               
expands  that list  to  all languages,  and can  be  used in  all                                                               
school districts, not just in  immersion schools. It requires the                                                               
language  immersion  teacher  to   know  the  language  and  have                                                               
immersion training.  The language immersion  certificate requests                                                               
are  made at  the request  of the  academic policy  committees at                                                               
3:52:35 PM                                                                                                                    
Section   5  further   amends   the   existing  limited   teacher                                                               
certificate  program by  making newly  issued certificates  valid                                                               
for  only one  year. Upon  verification  by the  school board  or                                                               
academic  policy  committee  that the  teacher  has  demonstrated                                                               
skills  in  classroom  instruction, curriculum  development,  and                                                               
student assessment,  the certificate can be  extended and renewed                                                               
in  accordance with  regulation.  It prohibits  the school  board                                                               
from  requiring additional  academic training  as a  condition of                                                               
certificate renewal.                                                                                                            
Section  6  creates  a  new   limited  language  certificate  for                                                               
teachers  instructing  in  a  language   other  than  English.  A                                                               
certificate can be issued if  there are an insufficient number of                                                               
certified  teachers  in  the  state  capable  of  teaching  in  a                                                               
language. Subsection  (a) states  that a limited  certificate can                                                               
be issued if  a school board or the academic  policy committee of                                                               
a  language immersion  charter school  requests it.  It is  valid                                                               
only in  the school district  that requested it.  The certificate                                                               
is valid  for teaching  languages at any  level and  for teaching                                                               
other  subjects in  grades pre-K  through 8,  if the  language of                                                               
instruction  is  a  foreign  or  indigenous  language.  A  person                                                               
teaching a subject other than  that language, must have completed                                                               
a  course  in  language   immersion  education  and  demonstrates                                                               
subject  matter  expertise. Subsection  (b)  says  that DEED  may                                                               
issue   a  limited   certificate  if   the  certified   applicant                                                               
demonstrates  instructional  skills   sufficient  to  assure  the                                                               
public that  the person is competent  as a teacher as  defined by                                                               
regulation, the applicant  demonstrates subject matter expertise,                                                               
and  the applicant  has the  language  proficiency sufficient  to                                                               
teach  classroom activities  wholly in  the language.  Subsection                                                               
(c) states that the newly  issued certificates are valid for only                                                               
one year.  Upon certification  by the  entity that  requested the                                                               
limited certificate,  that the holder has  demonstrated skills in                                                               
the  classroom instruction,  curriculum development,  and student                                                               
assessment,  the  certificate  can  be extended  and  renewed  in                                                               
accordance with  regulations. Subsection (d) prohibits  the board                                                               
from  requiring additional  academic training  as a  condition of                                                               
certificate renewal.                                                                                                            
3:54:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Section 7  relates to  teacher certificates  issued by  an Alaska                                                               
Native tribe.  They are  limited certificates  and apply  only to                                                               
classes  taught  in  an  Alaska Native  language  in  a  language                                                               
immersion charter school.                                                                                                       
Section  8 gives  the commissioner  of DEED  or the  Professional                                                               
Teaching Practice Commission the  authority to prohibit a teacher                                                               
certified by  a tribe from  teaching in  a public school  for the                                                               
same  reasons  that any  teacher  could  have on  their  teaching                                                               
certificate - suspended or revoked under AS 14.20.032.                                                                          
Section   9  describes   the  administrative   review  procedures                                                               
available to tribes  and teachers certified in the  case that the                                                               
department   or   Professional  Teaching   Practices   Commission                                                               
prohibits the use of a tribal certificate in public schools.                                                                    
Section  10 provides  for a  transition period  from the  current                                                               
limited  teacher certificate  status to  the new  limited teacher                                                               
certificate  status. This  section  is only  relevant to  limited                                                               
certificates for teaching Alaska Native languages.                                                                              
3:56:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER  asked why,  if  a  limited certificate  can  be                                                               
extended after  a year if  the school  board requests it  and the                                                               
sponsoring charter  school requests  it, the school  board cannot                                                               
request  that  the  person have  additional  training.  The  bill                                                               
allows   non-credentialed   teachers   to   teach   as   language                                                               
specialists. She  said she could  imagine an instance  where that                                                               
teacher  might lack  classroom  skills and  could  use help  with                                                               
that. She asked why the board can't require further training.                                                                   
3:58:03 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KELLIE  gave an  example  a  person  having expertise  in  a                                                               
SENATOR OLSON asked  whether the question is why  the board can't                                                               
request a language teacher to  improve on their lack of classroom                                                               
instruction expertise.                                                                                                          
MS. KELLIE  explained that the  limited certificate  was designed                                                               
for   substitute  teachers   or  those   working  with   prepared                                                               
curriculum  with  support  of existing  certified  teachers.  She                                                               
concluded that the network would help support those teachers.                                                                   
SENATOR GARDNER  gave an example of  a person who has  mastery of                                                               
the content  and has a support  system to help them.  However, if                                                               
it is  not working out and  they don't have the  necessary skills                                                               
she questioned why not have  the language teacher take courses in                                                               
order to renew their certificate.                                                                                               
MS. KELLIE replied that it could be  a costly burden to them or a                                                               
time issue.                                                                                                                     
4:01:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  said he did  not have  the answer, but  would look                                                               
into it.                                                                                                                        
CHAIR DUNLEAVY opened public testimony.                                                                                         
4:03:09 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHLEEN  YARR,   representing  herself,  testified   during  the                                                               
discussion  of SB  84.  She  provided an  example  of a  Japanese                                                               
language specialist  whose program  was in  danger of  being cut.                                                               
She asked  if SB  84 would  require the  district to  employ this                                                               
teacher, comparable to a Type A teacher.                                                                                        
SENATOR OLSON said that is not intent of the bill.                                                                              
4:05:55 PM                                                                                                                    
DEENA  PARAMO, Superintendent,  Mat-Su  Borough School  District,                                                               
testified  in  support  of  SB  84. She  noted  that  the  Mat-Su                                                               
District  highly  values  choice   in  educational  programs  and                                                               
delivery.  The  district  has  a  Russian  language  neighborhood                                                               
school and  a Spanish language  charter school. She spoke  of the                                                               
uniqueness of immersion schools  and the flexibility they provide                                                               
for hiring  non-traditional teachers  and for retaining  staff in                                                               
times of shortage.  She expressed support for a  deeper look into                                                               
the certification  process for  language immersion  teachers. She                                                               
concluded  that the  effective  date would  allow  ample time  to                                                               
communicate certificate requirements to employees.                                                                              
4:09:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL  was  surprised   that  the  statutes  regarding                                                               
language  immersion  charter  schools don't  already  exist.  She                                                               
referred to new Subsection 2.                                                                                                   
DR.  PARAMO  said  they  were able  to  have  language  immersion                                                               
charter   schools   previously;   the  bill   addresses   teacher                                                               
4:10:17 PM                                                                                                                    
KATE  GLOVER, Attorney,  Legislative  Legal, Legislative  Affairs                                                               
Agency, answered questions related to SB 84.                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL referred to Section  2 and asked whether language                                                               
immersion charter school statutes were already in place.                                                                        
MS. GLOVER said  they are in place under AS  14.03.250, and SB 84                                                               
bill adds additional requirements  for language immersion charter                                                               
4:11:21 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
4:11:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  moved to  adopt the  CS for  SB 84,  labeled 29-                                                               
LS0746\E, as the working document before the committee.                                                                         
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY  objected.  He  asked  if  there  was  additional                                                               
discussion and then removed his objection.                                                                                      
CHAIR DUNLEAVY held SB 84 in committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 191 - Sponsor Statement .pdf SEDC 3/3/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 191
CS HB 107 - Follow Up Letter from Board of Regents.pdf SEDC 3/3/2016 3:30:00 PM
HB 107
SB 191 - Sectional.pdf SEDC 3/3/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 191