Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/10/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE
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|SB102 || SB103 || SB104|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 102 "An Act relating to funding for Internet services for school districts; and relating to the Alaska higher education investment fund." SENATE BILL NO. 103 "An Act establishing the Alaska education innovation grant program; eliminating the Alaska education grant program and the Alaska performance scholarship program; redesignating the Alaska higher education investment fund as the Alaska education innovation grant fund; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 104 "An Act relating to the duties of the state Board of Education and Early Development; and relating to school curriculum." 1:45:03 PM BRITTANY HUTCHISON, STAFF, SENATOR ANNA MACKINNON, offered an overview about why the suite of bills were being introduced. She asserted that SB 102, 103, and 104 had been crafted out of the need for major improvements in Alaska's educational system. She said that the needs addressed in the legislation were threefold: the prioritization of K-12 education as a constitutional responsibility, the improvement of outcomes for Alaskan students, and providing for efficient and streamlined delivery of education processes and procedures. 2:24:08 PM Ms. Hutchison read from the sponsor statement (copy on file): Every school district in Alaska has to have their curriculum reviewed and approved every six years. It is a long, arduous, and expensive task. Many school districts struggle with this because they do not have the necessary resources for this type of work. The goal of this legislation is to provide all school districts with a three year reprieve from having to update or renew any curriculum. This will save school districts time and money. This will also allow for a time period in which the Alaska Education Challenge can be implemented without the burden of curriculum review. This bill will allow the State Board of Education (BOE) to approve of the curriculum from the large 5 school districts and 2 rural school districts and allow that curriculum to be used by all school districts, on a voluntary basis, for three years. This time will be a transition period. During the three year reprieve from curriculum review by districts, the Department of Education and Early Development, in consultation with school districts, will have one year to find the best curriculum and best practices for math and English language arts in other states and in other countries. Then that curriculum will be tested on districts in Alaska, for two years, to see if it will be successful. If it does prove to be a good measure of success for our students, then the State Board of Education will review, approve and adopt that curriculum for all school districts to be able to use, if they so choose. I urge your support for this legislation. 2:26:09 PM Ms. Hutchison read from sectional analysis (copy on file): Section 1 AS 14.07 A) Adds a new section titled, "Curriculum Approval and Review". B) This section allows the State Board of Education (BOE) to approve of all curricula from the largest 5 school districts, based on the 2015-2016 ADM and 2 rural school districts, chosen by the BOE, and makes it available for all school districts to use, on a voluntary basis. 2:26:57 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon OPENED public testimony. KEVIN SHIPLEY, KAKE CITY SCHOOLS, KAKE, spoke in support of the bill. He advocated for a research bases, systematic approach to curriculum in teaching and not a "textbook adoption" system. He believed that textbooks should be tools for, and not drivers of, education curriculum. He spoke of the work that had been done in Texas and New York to implement an effective curriculum. Co-Chair MacKinnon commented that the bill was intended to dovetail with the work of the Department of Education and Early Development to refrain from allowing textbook companies to dictate curriculum in Alaska schools. 2:29:46 PM ALYSE GALVIN, GREAT ALASKA SCHOOLS, JUNEAU, testified in support of the bill. She echoed the testimony of the previous speaker that educators and parents should support the changes in curriculum. She believed that new curriculum could raise the bar and change behavior in education. 2:32:39 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon CLOSED public testimony. PAUL PRUSSING, ACTING DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF STUDENT LEARNING, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT, commented that it would be a challenge for the department to implement the legislation. He appreciated the concept, said that the fiscal note presented a hurdle, but assured the committee that the department would work to realize the intent of the bill. SANA EFRID, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT, said that the goal of the department was to support the districts. She was unaware as to how the districts wanted the department to support them in their curriculum review, but she looked forward to having the conversation with districts. Co-Chair MacKinnon believed that textbooks should be a tool, but should not drive the learning of Alaska students. She lamented the achievement gap between the United States and other nations. She said that she had sent a letter to the department that asked for consideration for smaller school districts that could not conduct a proper review, and hoped that the department would work with her to lower the fiscal note. She suggested that the department could look at curriculum and give all schools a break on the curriculum review, voluntarily, and have schools adopt the 5 big school's curriculum, along with 2 high performing rural schools, and then wait for 3 years. She hoped that this could give all schools the opportunity to participate in the "Alaska Challenge." 2:37:57 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon hoped that during the curriculum review break, the department could examine the math and language arts programs that were successful in other states, and then bring that curriculum back to the state. She stated that the intent of the bill was to support a systemic change on a volunteer basis, with resources available on the state level to support districts. 2:39:07 PM Ms. Efrid hoped that a deeper conversation with the committee could provide the department with clarity on the intent of the legislation. She noted that the current DEED fiscal note was indeterminate, but that it could change once the department had a better understanding of the legislation. Co-Chair MacKinnon reiterated that the idea was not to provide districts with more textbooks. Ms. Efrid appreciated the statement. She added that many students in the state needed supplemental materials, and that each district had individual needs. 2:40:24 PM Vice-Chair Bishop thought that the University of Alaska should be involved in conversations about the three bills. Co-Chair MacKinnon stated that she had been in contact with the University. 2:42:44 PM Senator von Imhof asked when the Alaska State Standards were adopted, and wondered what curriculum efforts had been made since the standard were adopted. Mr. Prussing stated that the new standards were implemented in 2012. He lamented that, due to budget cuts, the department did not have the staff available to offer full support to districts. Co-Chair MacKinnon interjected that the legislation was intended to be a tool to assist the department. She said that the current budget deficit meant that there would be no new funds available for education. She furthered that anyone waiting to testify on SB 103, the Alaska Performance Scholarship bill, should be aware that funding for that program would have to come from a savings account of some type. 2:45:25 PM Co-Chair MacKinnon asked Ms. Efrid to schedule an appointment with her office to continue discussing the specifics of the bill. Ms. Efrid said she would schedule the meeting. Co-Chair MacKinnon commented that Miles Baker, Director, Government Relations, University of Alaska, was available to respond to questions for the University.