Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
04/14/2015 08:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 89-PARENT RIGHTS: EDUCATION; SCHOOL ABSENCE 8:09:48 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of SB 89. 8:10:38 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee meeting. SENATOR MIKE DUNLEAVY, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of SB 89, said the purpose of this bill is to reiterate the inherent rights of parents. He explained that the rights of parents have always existed and had never been extinguished. He is reiterating these rights because recently there has been more and more of a demand by practitioners and state and federal agencies to assess children, to take that data and use it for the stated purpose of trying to help improve instruction, but also to label schools to see where they fall; whether they are failing schools or schools that are actually assisting students. He had no issue with that, but a growing body of parents feels that they should be able to opt out and not be part of certain requests. These requests are a fuzzy area, because they are requests, but they also sometimes come across as demands - for children to be in certain classes that parents may feel are in conflict with their values and may even run counter to them. He elaborate that most parents believe that you send your child to school to learn the writing, reading, math, science, history etc. If that's not the case, parents want to be able to exercise their inherent rights to be able to say no to a particular lesson or activity. He said SB 89 also has a section that denies abortion providers the right to be in the schools, to be able to have a captive audience, which kids are. They should take their business outside of schools. 8:14:00 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how he defines "abortion services provider." SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered someone that provides abortion services. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if Providence Hospital provides an abortion for a woman who would otherwise die be an abortion service provider. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that there could be some individuals that make that stretch, but generally speaking, most folks view Providence Hospital as a medical provider. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said if they provide abortion services the language says they are an abortion service provider. So, he asked if someone who is volunteer at Providence Hospital be allowed to come in to speak to a group of students. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered if one of the main components of the services that they provide is abortion, then no. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI pointed out that the language just says, "A school district may not permit an abortion services provider or an employee or volunteer of an abortion services provider." It doesn't say that is their main component of business. It could be just one abortion that was maybe provided a couple of years ago for a life-threatening case. That person would not be able to volunteer at a school. SENATOR DUNLEAVY responded that was not what he was saying. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if that language should be clarified. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that he did not believe so. The purpose is for those who as a main component of their business is providing abortions and he did not believe Providence Hospital's main function was to provide abortions. 8:16:28 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if abortion services provider should be defined as some organization whose main purpose is to provide abortions. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered no, although a discussion could be had about it in committee. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what number of abortions makes an organization an abortion services provider. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that he didn't have a particular number. He just wanted to prevent abortion providers from having a captive audience of children to peddle their services, values, and ideas to. He had no issue with that if it's after school and across the street. 8:17:46 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if he thinks volunteers at Providence Hospital who perhaps perform one abortion a year are somehow pedaling abortions for kids in elementary schools. Is there any evidence that this is happening in schools? SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that he didn't believe that Providence Hospital's main purpose is abortion. SENATOR MCGUIRE said they are not really talking about Providence Hospital, but it was probably worth making sure the courts would view things not overly board. She said overall asking a parent to intersect with a school whose values they don't like is a good point. People find it frightening, but it's not. It's a chance for families to sit down and say we don't want you to participate in this activity or in this test or in this thing because our family values are the following. She liked the bill's approach and didn't think that families are as involved anymore as much as they should be. But when it comes to the issue of human sexuality. She is a doctor's daughter and wanted young people, particularly teenage children, to have some access to information about what is happening to their bodies, the changes that are going on with puberty and what that means, the hormones, how that might change behavior, and how to respond accordingly to protect themselves in a way not to get pregnant should they decide to engage in sex. All parents hope they would not, but that is not the reality. She didn't want to go too far to the point where young people can't get some kind of read on what is happening. SENATOR MCGUIRE asked what is happening in schools that has precipitated this. What is going on with Planned Parenthood and kids being taught about abortions? 8:20:53 AM SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that he had received phone calls from constituents and others throughout the state that abortion providers were providing "lessons, trainings, and trainings for teenagers so they can talk to others about sex and reproductive issues." This bill does not prevent health teachers in a school from teaching sex education. This is third parties using a school as a host to get between parents and their children in terms of values regarding reproductive services, sexuality, etc. 8:22:02 AM SENATOR COGHILL moved to adopt the work draft CS for SB 89, version 29-LS0735\G, as the working document. 8:22:21 AM CHAIR STOLTZE objected for an explanation. BETHANY MARCUM, staff to Senator Dunleavy, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, said the CS basically eliminates some unfunded mandates. It eliminates some unfunded mandates by doing three things. One is on page 4, lines 20-27: it eliminates the requirement for a certified teacher at a child care facility to be fingerprinted twice and provides for a deed to supply the fingerprint records to the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) at the request of the individual. The second change is on page 4, lines 2-7, that adds a new subsection saying the district can't pay for physical exams for teachers. They are not required by the state, but some districts may require them. The third primary change on page 4, line 28, eliminates the requirement for school districts to provide physical exams for children. Currently, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) can require districts to conduct physical exams, and that hasn't changed and they may reimburse the district as required. This CS removes the requirement for the school districts to provide those exams. She said other conforming language is made and explained that with the previous school district-provided exam a report was required to be provided to parents. That report would obviously would go away since the exams would be going away. That is on page 4, line 28. Then on page 4, lines 14-18, conforming language is also removed regarding that statute being repealed. CHAIR STOLTZE removed his objection and version G was before the committee. 8:24:45 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the health teacher teaching these courses was a volunteer at an abortion services provider, could they not be permitted to teach. SENATOR DUNLEAVY answered that he didn't believe that was the case. He would be teaching the school district approved curriculum that had been vetted by the school district in a public forum. A health teacher who is contracted by the school district to be a teacher with a Type A, if they have district approved curriculum that has been vetted, would be able to teach most likely in a health class the prescribed curriculum as it applies to human sexuality. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if it was okay for a substitute teacher who is a volunteer at an abortion services provider to teach health for one day. SENATOR DUNLEAVY replied his intent was that adopted curriculum that has been vetted by the school board on human sexuality can be taught under this bill. 8:25:51 AM SENATOR HUGGINS said kids graduate from school and don't object to having a health teacher teach them health curriculum, but that is not what he sends them to school for. He is with Senator Dunleavy on this one. 8:27:47 AM CHAIR STOLTZE, finding no further objections, announced that the CS for SB 89 [version G] was before the committee. 8:29:59 AM At ease from 8:29 to 8:31 a.m. 8:31:56 AM CHAIR STOLTZE opened public testimony on SB 89. 8:32:53 AM APRIL SMITH, representing herself, North Pole, Alaska, supported SB 89. She said she thought an abortion provider would be someone who markets and sells abortions, not Providence Hospital that just provides them as an extra medical service. She related how she was taught sex education in schools it wasn't inappropriate but when she looked for more information from a trust worthy source she was pulled into their system of defeat. She went to them for help and they taught her how to lie and manipulate adults in her life. They pushed services that eventually lead to abortion. 8:36:50 AM HEATHER FUSSELL, representing herself, Wasilla, Alaska, supported SB 89. She believed in her right as a parent to determine what her children are exposed to. Her children are home schooled, but she thought abortion service providers should not be allowed to supply materials to schools. A majority of the money they make is from abortion services. 8:38:29 AM ANDY HOLLEMAN, lobbyist, Anchorage Education Association, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. He said he represents about 3,500 educators in the classroom and everyone appreciates the clarification of parents' rights to be informed, but the local school boards that parents participate in are where it's decided which materials come into the school rooms. But putting a legal question on which materials a classroom teacher who may be looking for current materials or outside expertise to come in isn't necessarily healthy. He hoped they removed the language that prohibits that. 8:40:34 AM JENNIFER WOOLEY, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She was a life-long Alaskan and was proud of the state, but was dismayed by its rate of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexual assault. Her background is in sexual health education and her future career is in medicine, so she sees the direct connection between education and health. She knew parents' concern lead to the introduction of this bill, but she cautioned them to consider the children's parents who were not as involved as hoped. Under this bill, each child will have the additional burden of obtaining parental consent to access information that may save their lives. They may not be able to access the information they need, because their parents aren't around. What happens to them then? She said all children undoubtedly benefit from medically accurate, age-appropriate education about their bodies and relationships. Currently, parents can opt out, so children should not be punished by requiring parents to opt in. She encouraged promoting health and not the imagined threat of peddling abortions. 8:42:19 AM LENA ILLIG, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She said sex education and education for healthy relationships is crucial. Alaska is the number one state for sexual assault, domestic violence and certain STIs. These issues are personal to her because she had experienced domestic violence and is using her experience to create awareness and education for others regarding this epidemic in Alaska. She said that over half of sexually active people will get an STI in their life and taking away sex education only adds to the problem. It will let teenagers be uninformed on how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STIs. Studies show that comprehensive sex education is effective in preventing teen pregnancy. 8:44:11 AM JOHN BLAINE, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. He supported previous comments saying that a better place to discuss this matter are the local school boards. He said it seemed like SB 89 was a direct assault against Planned Parenthood, which has an admirable reputation for sex education in schools with the best possible information given to children in an appropriate way and time. The only thing that has not been mentioned is how much the family situation has changed in the country. Parents and children sitting around a table talking about sex education is not exactly the case. Children won't receive the information they need if they don't have sex education in the schools. Statistics show education reduces abortion. 8:46:54 AM ROBIN SMITH, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She said parental support for school-based sex education is overwhelmingly positive over the past 20 years in survey after survey. Local, state or national, 80-85 percent of parents indicate that they want their children to received comprehensive, medically accurate age-appropriate sex education. Parents see such courses and content as supplementing, not supplanting, their discussions at home. They say that their children need both to be taught about delaying the onset of intimate sexual relationships until they are mature and responsible and also getting the information and skills they need to use contraception when they do choose to become sexually active. It's not a matter of either or, but both. She said that Planned Parenthood helps fill an important gap left by the state's inaction to ensure students have the information they need to make educated decisions about relationships and sex. The state does not have a comprehensive sex education curricula that they even offer to the schools, let alone require. Until Alaska steps up and provides this comprehensive medically accurate sex health education to all students communities will rely on outside educators to provide it. One of the education programs that Planned Parenthood offers is a workshop for parents. This program encourages parents to pass on their values to their children, but also to become more comfortable with engaging children on sexual issues. She encouraged them to look at this curricula and others they provide. KENNI LINDEN, representing herself, Palmer, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She was born and raised in Palmer and owns a home with her husband around the corner from the elementary school she attended. Her whole family had a "fantastic public education" in Palmer public schools. The only glaring omission in her education was sexual health. She and her peers would have greatly benefited from comprehensive medically accurate reproductive health education. She was sexually assaulted when she was 15 and afterwards she was unaware of the resources available to her as a student to protect her health and to speak up in support of healthy relationships and consent. She was delighted to hear that professionally trained health educators were invited into schools to teach sex education and hoped it would prevent others from experiencing the sexual trauma she experienced. Although she has fabulous parents, she wasn't sure that asking them to opt in for sex education may have prevented her and her brothers from receiving any health information. Between two households and three children, keeping track of permission slips was chaos. This bill would add an undue burden on parents and educators. 8:51:36 AM JARED MCCLURE, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, supported SB 89. Planned Parenthood's agenda is to market sex to vulnerable and impressionable children and trick them into behaving irresponsibly so they can sell them an abortion later. If you want STDs and illegitimate and underage pregnancy rates to go down, "just end the practice of allowing these perverse abortionists free rein to market sex and abortions in our school." They make a killing doing the abortions later. 8:52:41 AM DEBORAH WILLIAMS, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89, because it will cost more money and undermine the authority of local school districts. It will undermine local control. She urged them to take a hard look at AS 14.03.016(a)(3), the opt in provision in it. It states that schools, teachers, must provide parents notification not less than two weeks but not more than six weeks before any activity or class involving sexual health education. The cost of this notification, the burden on teachers of this notification, the problem with permission slips falling through the cracks is great. New costs and new burdens cannot be imposed on teachers, parents, students and particularly on our fiscal constraints. MS. WILLIAMS said the current opt out provision is working well. There is no testimony whatsoever that it is not working well. She also opposed AS 14.03.83, which prohibits a school district from contracting with an abortion services provider for all the reasons Senator Wielechowski mentioned. It is vague and arguably unconstitutional and very problematic, but mostly it undermines the authority of the local school districts and local control. She didn't think this committee wanted that. Sexual health education saves dollars and this will undermine the ability to save those dollars; we are in a fiscal crisis and can't afford to spend more money where we don't have it. MS. WILLIAMS closed saying that she is aware of the evidence- based programming that is provided in the schools today on sexual health education. "They matter; they are outstanding; they are evidence-based. Please let school districts be the authority on whether they want to continue using those, not Juneau." 8:55:40 AM MICHAEL PAULEY, Alaska Family Action, Alaska Family Council, Seattle, Washington, supported SB 89. The most important words in the entire bill are found in the title: An act relating to a parent's right to direct the education of a child. They believe that the right of parents to direct the education of their child is inherent. He said, "Government doesn't give parents that right any more than government gives us children." Government does have an important role in helping to protect and advance this inherent right and SB 89 is such a measure. He said abortion is legal, but so are other things, like cigarettes, and one would want tobacco companies into schools to promote those in front of impressionable young people. Religion is legal, too, but a local Catholic or Mormon church would not get invited to teach a sex education class. Yet, Planned Parenthood, a highly political and ideological organization, acts as if they are entitle to be peddling their services to children in the schools that citizens pay for. He said nothing in SB 89 inhibits public schools from offering sex education in classes provided they have the consent of parents and provided they are not farming out the task to people who sell abortions on the side. 8:58:25 AM SACHA PETTITT, representing herself, Palmer, Alaska, supported SB 89. She is a parent and works as a teacher for the Mat-Su Borough school district. Parental choice is an integral part the checks and balances that are needed in the education system. Her students have consistently exceeded the statewide standards. She said SB 89 sets up safety parameters for children and allows parents to not be steamrolled into an agenda with others. She didn't feel that permission slips are a burden. She thought the cost of a ream of paper could easily be fit into the budget. 9:00:59 AM ELENA GUSTAFSON, representing herself, Sitka, Alaska, opposed SB 89 wholeheartedly. Alaska's devastatingly high rates of child sexual abuse were six times the national average; it is the highest for teen dating violence, teen pregnancies rates are higher than the national average and STDs are higher than in any other state. She wasn't proud of these facts, but comprehensive sex education, which is being taught at a large percentage of schools in the States, is known to reduce these. Every parent already has the right to be involved in their child's education; they can remove their children from the classroom if they believe the curriculum runs counter to their best interests. The current system already provides for this, she said. It is not an undue burden on parents to take advantage of the rights that they already have to object and withdraw their child from tests or any activity. It is an undue burden on the most vulnerable in the state to put opt-in clauses, specifically section (3) in the working draft, on children who are experiencing abuse and neglect. If a child is already being abused has to ask permission to receive what may be the only safety resources they have ever had. MS. GUSTAFSON said she had worked with children who after her safety presentations in elementary schools had the language to speak up and get the safety they deserved. If this bill went into effect these children might be denied that education and be stuck in an abusive family for years. School districts should be the ones to decide who is the most qualified to provide this information. 9:03:48 AM LIBBY STORTZ, representing herself, Sitka, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She agreed with previous testifiers in opposition. During adolescence most teens explore their sexuality through behavior and Planned Parenthood, against whom this bill is focused, has provided evidence-based, accurate, neutral sex education for almost 100 years in the United States. This is about the health and safety of teens. Comprehensive sex education helps thousands of teens who with or without parental consent will do what comes naturally. They need this information with or without parental consent. 9:06:01 AM BARBARA HANEY, representing herself, North Pole, Alaska, supported SB 89 wholeheartedly. She understands people who are upset about the abortion provider provision, but this bill in no way blocks sex education. From her survey of schools in Alaska, sex education is taught by a member of the bargaining unit; it's not taught by Planned Parenthood. She said many districts in the state have parental right of refusal or opt out language, but not in others. Some schools are good at letting parents opt out of sexual education units but not testing. Other places are really good at letting you out of testing but not so much sex education and she wasn't sure how the two got linked together. Except for the overriding principal which is that the parent should have the right to say "no, thank you," that is already a right. She wanted the policy to be uniform across the state. 9:07:52 AM AMY WALKER, representing herself, Palmer, Alaska, supported SB 89. She said schools should be a safe place for our kids where they can feel protected against propaganda and indoctrination. She wanted to keep Planned Parenthood out of the schools; their goal is to make money corrupting and indoctrinating our kids with premarital sex, homosexuality, anti-family and anti-life propaganda. 9:10:03 AM CHRISTOPHER KURKA, Executive Director, Alaska Right to Life, Chugiak, Alaska, supported SB 89. If Planned Parenthood has been successful in preventing STDs, then "they really suck at it" because there has been an extraordinary rise in recent years. They don't exhibit scientific material, but material for the purpose of promoting promiscuity. This bill is about stopping organizations like Planned Parenthood who have an agenda to promote promiscuity and abortion. 9:12:24 AM ED GRAY, representing himself, Sitka, Alaska, supported SB 89. Planned Parenthood has been in their school district and it hasn't worked well. In fact, the school district has not acted responsibly in collecting all students' information, email addresses and turning them over to the abortion industry. 9:14:32 AM SUSAN JENSEN, representing herself, Sitka, Alaska, supported SB 89. As a former public school teacher, she strongly respects the right of parents to determine what is best for their children. Parents are legally responsible for their children and should therefore have the final say over what their children participate in and what they are taught. 9:16:32 AM YVONNE CORDUAN, representing herself, Sitka, Alaska, supported SB 89, for all the previously stated reasons and because it protects the inherent rights of parents to direct the education of their children. Requiring local school boards to adopt policies recognizing that authority perpetuates that right. 9:18:59 AM LISA MELNICK, representing herself, Sitka, Alaska, supported SB 89. She is a mom raising six kids in the Alaska public school system and supported it to keep abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, out of the schools. They sell the product of abortion and she did not want her girls learning about their bodies from an organization that sells a product that she is fundamentally against. 9:20:29 AM JOANIE CLEARY, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. It is being promoted as a bill that will protect parents' rights, but as a parent who supports having a say in their children's education especially sexual education, but this bill targets one of the most qualified providers of comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate, sexual education. She agreed with other speaker who opposed this bill. Parents who want to teach their children about sex are never prevented from doing that. She is an assistant to a guardian ad litem and sees children in the foster care system who get no other information in their home. Their parents are not available to them for a variety of reasons, usually drugs, alcohol, mental health problems, and they are just not doing their jobs. She sees countless teens of the system who are growing up to have children of their own. They didn't get a sufficient education to be able to prevent that. She has volunteered at Planned Parenthood and supports them. Every single person she has met there has been very dedicated to women's and young people's health and sexual health. She objected to some of the characterizations that she had heard today. Finally, Ms. Cleary said it part of the intent of this bill is to prevent abortion, it is misguided. The best way to prevent abortion is to provide comprehensive, medically accurate information to our youth in every possible way. 9:23:02 AM JUDY MILLER, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She respected the bill's intent to support parental involvement in schools, but she felt that it damages student's ability to gain access to vetted, objective medically accurate sexual health information as provided by Planned Parenthood. The opt-out consideration already exists for parents and requiring opt-in for sex education is counterproductive and a huge administrative burden for the schools. She said our youth are being inundated with sex messages from television, movies, social media, and computer games; this is why it is even more important that they receive unbiased medically accurate sexual health information. No other organization in the United State does more to prevent unintended pregnancies than Planned Parenthood. In preventing pregnancies, Planned Parenthood prevents the need for more abortions. 9:24:45 AM ZHENIA PETERSON, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She is a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage studying social work and public health. It is important that students in high school get sexual education that includes anatomy. It would be scary to appear at the university level and not understand the basic concepts of how their bodies. 9:26:36 AM BARBARA MCDANIEL, representing herself, Wasilla, Alaska, opposed SB 89, because it promotes ignorance and she is a firm believer in accurate and fact-based education delivered in a professional and appropriate manner in all subjects including and especially sexual health education. She is a parent and is happy that Planned Parenthood is providing sexual health education from more than 1.5 million youths every nationally. It's great that caring school and community agencies take responsibility for children's health and safety by seeking and employing Planned Parenthood's reputable, reliable, professional, and thoroughly vetted sexual health education curriculum for their students. Alaska's infamous sexual health and safety statistics prove Alaska youths do not need any more ignorance. ALYSON CURREY, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She said they operate four health centers across the state in Juneau, Anchorage, Soldotna, and Fairbanks. In 2013, they served about 13,000 patients, the vast majority of whom come to them for non-judgmental quality care, namely for birth control and family planning, STI testing and treatment, well room exams (cervical cancer screenings and breast health checks) and prenatal care. She said Planned Parenthood has also been a trusted provider of comprehensive sexual health education in Alaska for over 20 years and throughout the country for nearly 100 years. MS. CURREY said the collaborative work between school districts and Planned Parenthood is an important partnership that benefits students and empowers them to make safe and healthy decisions about their sexual health. Their programs reinforces communication between parents and their children and provides the tools necessary to support parents in communicating about sexuality and sexual health with their children. MS. CURREY explained that Planned Parenthood works closely with some schools, but they are not in every school. When invited in, they tailor their curriculum on prevention per a teacher's request and it should be up the schools to decide what curriculum comes into their classrooms. All of their curriculum is vetted for medical accuracy. 9:31:03 AM DIANNA HOBBS, representing herself, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She is a Thunder Mountain Junior and opposed the provision that bans abortion service providers from schools. This will directly affect the work she does as a volunteer/peer educator through teen councils that are sponsored by Planned Parenthood. She said there is a common misconception that Planned Parenthood educators are marketing abortion services to youth in school presentations, but that is "simply not true." She said Teen Councils was created over 20 years ago in Washington State by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest while the local Juneau Teen Council formed three years ago. She explained that when invited into classrooms, Teen Council members teach peers about healthy sexuality and healthy relationships and impact peers through thoughtful, nonjudgmental education and outreach. The support of these organizations is needed to help them learn and teach; it helps support thousands of teens and children who add to the state's tragic and disturbingly high statistics. 9:32:48 AM KALEY COLUMN, representing herself, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She is a 16-year old sophomore at Juneau-Douglas High School and a member of Juneau Teen Council. Since the beginning of the 2014/15 school year, 7 Juneau Teen Council members have collectively contributed over 900 volunteer hours toward learning about sexuality and developing education skills. These hours include those when they are invited into classrooms to educated students about growing up in their bodies. Often they are invited by health teachers, because they don't have all of the information they might need. She said the recently four members received the prestigious statewide Spirit of Youth Award for service to peers for creating a high quality teen made video about health relationships, healthy sexuality and nonviolence. Teen Council meets weekly for two-hour training meetings on things like abstinence and unintended pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infection prevention, healthy relationships, consent and teen dating violence. In addition, they learn about things like the side effects of abusing drugs and alcohol, media literacy, social justice issues and much more. She has left a class and receive anonymous notes saying how much they appreciate their talking to them. She has received drawings from little middle school girls saying how much they appreciated her coming in and helped them learn something about what they didn't know. She said the power of peer education is so important, because adolescents listen to each other much more often and with much more inherent respect than listening to adults. The information is learned with more detail and more information can be spread in this way. 9:36:23 AM SUSAN SCHRADER, representing herself, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She asked how likely is a parent who is abusing a child to proactively opt in to have that child receive sex education that might prevent that abuse. Someone at a previous meeting said she received anonymous note from a youngster if it was okay for her stepfather to have sex with me. How likely would that father sign a permission slip to allow that child to receive sex education? STD statistics will not be lowered with this bill's approach. Currently parents have many ways to opt out of any class or activity they don't agree with in a school district; this bill is unnecessary and represents a misguided effort to put a specific ideology of a few ahead of the health of Alaskans. 9:38:23 AM NORM WOOTEN, Association of Alaska School Boards, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. He addressed only section 3 and said the association had been involved in "Alaska Ice," the initiative for community engagement for 20 years. They try to connect schools to their communities and as part of that the provide for the administering of the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) that asks students about their perceptions of events going on around them. It's not about their personal behaviors and not about things that are going on in their family. He explained that consultants constructed this test to intentionally avoid those issues. The survey is used by school districts to determine destructive activity such as bullying that may exist in their schools and to take actions to create a safer climate within the school. It's based on the 40 assets model, that the more assets a student possesses the more likely they are to succeed both in school and out of school. SB 89 will make it very difficult to obtain consent from folks to get valid data to provide to school districts. He suggested that the bill goes too far. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what sorts of questions are being asked. MR. WOOTEN answered that he would provide that information to the chair. CHAIR STOLTZE invited parents to provide written testimony on what questions they might object to that they have been asked. 9:41:24 AM CAREN ROBINSON, lobbyist, Alaska Women's Lobby, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. Their mission is to defend and advance the rights and needs of women, children and families. This bill is an example of state overreach. Nothing is more local than their children's and grandchildren's schools. Communities elect school boards that hire a superintendent. In Juneau, each school has a parent council that hires the principals. We are so locally driven that one middle school bans all student activity travel and another that allows it. It should be up to local schools to decide who they invite, whether it's police for DARE or health care providers to talk about STIs or obesity, or advocates to talk about child abuse, dating violence and sexual assault. They also believe that putting the burden on school districts to ask parents to opt in on almost everything is costly and waste, plus it's just not realistic. She said the system is not broken; parents already have the authority to approve their children's participation in school activities. They believe that schools and parents working together to decide who can come into their schools. 9:43:44 AM MELISSA ENGEL, representing herself, Juneau, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She said, "SB 89 is masquerading as a parental rights bill and has dangerous consequences that puts the health and future of our youth at risk by limiting access to necessary resources and information regarding reproductive and sexual health." 9:46:28 AM PETER HOEPFNER, board member, Cordova School District, Cordova, Alaska, opposed SB 89. He noted that section 1, the ability of parents to opt out of standards-based assessments or tests required by the state, hadn't been discussed much. School districts have been asked to be accountable, and if students are opting out of this test the results will be an inadequate portrayal of the total student performance. The tests should eliminated rather than giving the option to opt out. Another issue is if a person doesn't opt in, you don't know if the student has lost the slip or if the parents have misplaced it. SENATOR STOLTZE said the teachers he hears from in his district are against more testing. 9:48:37 AM MARY E. KEHRHAHN-STARK, Planned Parenthood, Fairbanks, Alaska, opposed SB 89. This legislation will make it harder for Alaska youth to access crucial sexual health and social services they need. Both academic and sexual education are important in a person's life. Today's culture offers an abundance of opportunity for sexual exploration whether people want to see it or not and whether people agree with it or not. Young people need to be armed with as much knowledge about their bodies and what they can do to protect themselves from unwanted assaults, diseases, infections and unplanned pregnancy. 9:51:54 AM JESSICA CLER, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB 89. She had a great public school education in the Mat-Su school district and was fortunate to have very engaged parents. However, the one incredibly important piece that was missing from her public school education was comprehensive medically accurate sex education and information on consent, healthy relationships and teen dating violence. This information was desperately needed because of Alaska's high rates of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Alaska already falls short in providing this education; Planned Parenthood fills an important gap left by the state's inaction and communities rely on them to provide that information. In tight fiscal times, community partners, like Planned Parenthood, provide a vital service to the school districts. MS. CLER said this bill is an additional burden on already strapped schools and it is written so broadly that it could have dangerous effects in limiting students' access to sexual assault awareness and prevention. 9:53:42 AM DONNA KLECKA, representing herself, Eagle River, Alaska, opposed SB 89 because of all the reasons people have already iterated. 9:54:44 AM CHAIR STOLTZE, finding no further comments, closed public testimony and held SB 89 in committee.