Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/06/2018 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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-- Public Testimony --
Moved SR 7 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved SR 8 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                     SCR 5-ALASKA READS DAY                                                                                 
3:44:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER called the committee  back to order. He announced the                                                               
consideration of Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 (SCR 5).                                                                        
3:44:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BERTA GARDNER, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
sponsor of  SCR 5, explained  that the resolution  would proclaim                                                               
March 2, 2018 as "Alaska Reads Day." She provided an overview of                                                                
SCR 5 as follows:                                                                                                               
     Early literacy  has been a  passion of mine for  a long                                                                    
     time, not  only with an  interest in education  for the                                                                    
     state, but  also because  I have  two children  who are                                                                    
     dyslexic in  various degrees; I've had  an awareness of                                                                    
     it to  find out my  husband is dyslexic too.  I've seen                                                                    
     the  difficulties that  some kids  have in  learning to                                                                    
     read and I've  also seen the impacts it has  on them in                                                                    
     terms of  self-esteem, struggles and things  like that,                                                                    
     and I've followed  it. My kids have grown  up, they are                                                                    
     successful,  independent, starting  their own  families                                                                    
     now but  I am  very much aware  of how  different their                                                                    
     stories might  have been had  they not had  the support                                                                    
     and resources  from their school, from  our family, and                                                                    
     an understanding of what they were struggling with.                                                                        
     I've  been  to a  lot  of  conferences  and I  tend  to                                                                    
     gravitate  to  the  issues about  education  and  about                                                                    
     reading  proficiencies. I've  heard  a  lot of  experts                                                                    
     talk about social and  economic consequences of reading                                                                    
     difficulties  or failure  of people  not being  able to                                                                    
     read proficiently,  particularly by third  grade. There                                                                    
     is a national effort to  talk about learning to read up                                                                    
     to about  third grade and  then reading to  learn after                                                                    
     third grade. I  was at one conference where  a group of                                                                    
     retired   military   generals,    admirals   and   such                                                                    
     presented, and  they talked about  the lack  of reading                                                                    
     proficiency being a national  security issue, that they                                                                    
     can't assume  that all  of their  people can  read well                                                                    
     enough to  follow instructions and  understand manuals.                                                                    
     So,  they  got  involved  in the  movement  to  try  to                                                                    
     promote reading proficiency.                                                                                               
     We have  all heard  the reports that  the state  is not                                                                    
     strong in reading proficiency and  that it is a chronic                                                                    
     problem and we don't seem  to have been able to address                                                                    
     it  effectively; that  being  said, I'm  not  a fan  of                                                                    
     resolutions, generally  not a huge fan  of task forces,                                                                    
     although sometimes they are  effective but I introduced                                                                    
     this resolution  at the request  of a  reading advocate                                                                    
     and I assume you will hear from  her. I am a fan of the                                                                    
     multi-pronged  approach  to  addressing some  of  these                                                                    
     thorny,  complex  problems  and  there  are  a  lot  of                                                                    
     elements to  address it  for part  of it  is awareness,                                                                    
     part  of it  is  early  exposure. There  are  a lot  of                                                                    
     organizations that work,  it's effective teachers, it's                                                                    
     PTA programs,  and there  are lots  of things  that can                                                                    
     happen to help.                                                                                                            
     This resolution is one small  part to draw awareness to                                                                    
     the issue, to be part of  a national effort. There is a                                                                    
     national "Read Across America  Day" which has developed                                                                    
     a lot  of resources to  help promote it,  libraries are                                                                    
     involved, PTAs  and such. I  think one of the  things I                                                                    
     want  to emphasize  as  much as  I can  is  one way  to                                                                    
     engage  kids and  get them  involved and  interested in                                                                    
     really wanting  to do it  is that  it is fun,  it's fun                                                                    
     and it helps you be  successful in almost any thing you                                                                    
     start to do.                                                                                                               
     I remember  the first book  I was every given  that was                                                                    
     my own, I came from a family  of four kids and we had a                                                                    
     lot of  books but this  one was my  very own, it  was a                                                                    
     birthday present, I don't know  if I was three or four,                                                                    
     but it  was, "The  Cat in  The Hat  Comes Back,"  and I                                                                    
     loved it dearly.  I remember that Christmas  when I was                                                                    
     five my parents got  us the Childcraft Encyclopedia and                                                                    
     years  later  when mother  persuaded  us  to move  them                                                                    
     along to other children, I  kept my favorite volume and                                                                    
     I still have it today and  I read it to my grandkids; I                                                                    
     think that  is really how  you engage kids  in reading,                                                                    
     it's great, great fun.                                                                                                     
3:49:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER   explained  that   since  the   resolution  was                                                               
originally  introduced  the  date  has  become  problematic.  She                                                               
disclosed that  she did  not choose  the date,  but the  date was                                                               
chosen by a  national program. She disclosed that it  has come to                                                               
her attention  that Dr. Seuss,  the beloved writer  of children's                                                               
books, was  not the man  many had hoped  he would be,  that there                                                               
have been indications that he  was very racist. She asserted that                                                               
she was not fully committed  to the resolution's observation date                                                               
but  added that  being  part  of the  national  program that  one                                                               
agrees with would be nice.  She emphasized that the resolution is                                                               
not  about  honoring  Dr.  Seuss,  but  about  encouraging  kids,                                                               
families  and communities  to help  children succeed  by starting                                                               
with literacy.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  WILSON  thanked  Senator   Gardner  for  addressing  his                                                               
concern that  he mentioned  to her earlier.  He asked  if Senator                                                               
Gardner had an alternate date in mind.                                                                                          
SENATOR GARDNER replied that any  date would work. She reiterated                                                               
that SCR 5 is about the issue addressed in the resolution.                                                                      
3:51:19 PM                                                                                                                    
JACOB TATUM,  Staff, Senator  Gardner, Alaska  State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, stated  that SCR 5 would be an  important step in                                                               
addressing  substandard reading  proficiency  in  Alaska. He  set                                                               
forth that the resolution intends  to connect readers of all ages                                                               
within  the   wide  network   of  services,   organizations,  and                                                               
advocates  that have  reading proficiency  at the  core of  their                                                               
mission. He detailed  that SCR 5 would honor the  birthday of Dr.                                                               
Seuss  on  March   2,  2018,  a  day   envisioned  where  Alaskan                                                               
communities  celebrate Alaska  Reads  Day to  promote all  things                                                               
3:55:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
3:55:26 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNA  NEIDIG,   Member,  Alaska  Reading   Coalition,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, testified in support of SCR 5 as follows:                                                                               
     I am  testifying in support  as a member of  the Alaska                                                                    
     Reading Coalition, and as Vice  President of the Alaska                                                                    
     International Dyslexia Association.                                                                                        
     I  want to  tell you  the value  of passing  an "Alaska                                                                    
     Reads  Day"  resolution.  When  I  learned  about  this                                                                    
     resolution, I did not realize  it had not yet completed                                                                    
     the  full legislative  process toward  enactment. Under                                                                    
     this  misunderstanding,  I  reached  out  to  my  local                                                                    
     library  in  excitement  to  schedule  a  collaborative                                                                    
     event.  Loussac  Library  staff heartily  embraced  the                                                                    
     idea; they  immediately saw it  as a  great opportunity                                                                    
     to  grow their  already  scheduled  Dr. Seuss  birthday                                                                    
     celebration into a  larger, more encompassing, outreach                                                                    
     On  March  2, 2018,  a.k.a.  Dr.  Seuss' birthday,  the                                                                    
     Loussac Library in Anchorage will  be hosting three Dr.                                                                    
     Seuss book  readings in the  Wilda Marston  Theatre and                                                                    
     has  opened   its  newly  renovated  atrium   to  local                                                                    
     outreach  organizations.  So  simply the  rumor  of  an                                                                    
     "Alaska  Reads Day"  has already  created an  effective                                                                    
     platform  for   collaborative  community   outreach  to                                                                    
     families  at  high  risk of  low  reading  proficiency.                                                                    
     Public and  private organizations are  already rallying                                                                    
     around "Alaska Reads Day."                                                                                                 
     Our  collaborative   event  is  geared   to  increasing                                                                    
     exposure in language and  other pre-reading skills that                                                                    
     help children succeed. We will  have fun activities for                                                                    
     children,   a   checklist   for   identifying   reading                                                                    
     struggles,   and   information  about   resources   for                                                                    
     struggling readers.                                                                                                        
     So,   with   great   enthusiasm,   despite   a   little                                                                    
     legislative   process  misunderstanding,   speaking  on                                                                    
     behalf of  the Alaska Reading Coalition  and the Alaska                                                                    
     International Dyslexia  Association, please pass  SCR 5                                                                    
     because in our minds you already have.                                                                                     
3:57:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony.                                                                                            
SENATOR EGAN  thanked Senator Gardner  for introducing SCR  5. He                                                               
recounted being  a longtime  advocate for  reading in  Alaska. He                                                               
disclosed that his  daughter volunteers as a  director with Dolly                                                               
Parton's [Imagination  Library] that works with  the state's Best                                                               
Beginnings program.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  MEYER   asked  if  the  committee   members  had  possible                                                               
4:00:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON  explained that he  was very supportive of  SCR 5.                                                               
He  noted that  he cosponsored  the initiative  for the  Dyslexia                                                               
Task Force and believed in  Alaska's education. He disclosed that                                                               
he was going to  school to become a teacher and  have a degree in                                                               
He  offered a  conceptual  amendment to  strike  verbiage in  the                                                               
resolution that references Dr. Seuss  and to keep the observation                                                               
date of March  2, 2018. He asked  that lines 29-31 on  page 2 and                                                               
line 1  on page 3  be stricken from  the resolution and  that the                                                               
date be kept maintaining alignment  with the activities that have                                                               
already been planned.                                                                                                           
CHAIR MEYER  asked him to  confirm that the  conceptual amendment                                                               
was to delete lines 29-31 on page 2 and line 1 on page 3.                                                                       
SENATOR WILSON answered correct.                                                                                                
4:00:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL objected for discussion purposes.                                                                               
CHAIR MEYER  asked Senator Gardner  if she would like  to address                                                               
Senator Wilson's conceptual amendment.                                                                                          
SENATOR GARDNER  replied that she  appreciated the  amendment and                                                               
the spirt in  which it is intended. She said  she agreed with the                                                               
amendment and  thanked Senator Wilson for  providing a resolution                                                               
to the conflict.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER  asked  if  there   were  additional  objections  or                                                               
SENATOR  COGHILL pointed  out that  Dr. Seuss  was being  removed                                                               
from  the  resolution  and  asked why  the  amendment  was  being                                                               
SENATOR  WILSON  explained  that   the  amendment  reflected  the                                                               
national     attention    debating     Dr.    Seuss's     earlier                                                               
characterizations  and cartoons  between  1920-1940. He  asserted                                                               
that  he  and some  of  his  constituents  harbor an  issue  with                                                               
honoring Dr. Seuss due to  controversies that have not been fully                                                               
4:02:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  noted that he  objected only because  he thought                                                               
Dr. Seuss's later work showed  extreme tolerance for all kinds of                                                               
people. He  opined that Dr. Seuss's  earlier work may not  be the                                                               
best way  to judge him.  He asserted that  he has not  heard what                                                               
Senator Wilson  was referencing  regarding a  national discussion                                                               
on Dr. Seuss, especially if the  entanglement was the kind in the                                                               
politically-correct-zone rather  than a  real problem.  He stated                                                               
that he  has been active  in trying  to help people  read through                                                               
the use  of Dr. Seuss.  He summarized  that he was  surprised and                                                               
objected because  he did not  know the issue that  Senator Wilson                                                               
was talking about.                                                                                                              
CHAIR MEYER  asked Senator Gardner if  she has heard of  the same                                                               
concerns that Senator Wilson has voiced.                                                                                        
SENATOR GARDNER  explained that Senator Wilson  brought the issue                                                               
regarding Dr. Seuss to her attention  and she spent time prior to                                                               
the  committee  meeting  to find  another  children's  author  of                                                               
stature  that  could  be substituted.  She  emphasized  that  her                                                               
effort  is to  draw attention  to  reading. She  opined that  Dr.                                                               
Seuss has certainly brought a  great deal of pleasure to children                                                               
and adults as  well and that was probably why  he was selected to                                                               
be sort of the symbol of  "Alaska Reads Day." She reiterated that                                                               
whatever the committee wants to do is fine with her.                                                                            
4:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON  emphasized that  he did not  want his  issue with                                                               
Dr. Seuss to  be a controversy that the Legislature  must take up                                                               
later should the  public call the act into  question. He asserted                                                               
that his intent is to head-off the debate regarding Dr. Seuss.                                                                  
SENATOR GIESSEL stated that she  agreed with Senator Coghill. She                                                               
noted that  she stayed appraised  of national topics and  she has                                                               
not heard of what Senator  Wilson addressed, something that comes                                                               
as a surprise to her as well.                                                                                                   
CHAIR MEYER  suggested that the  committee needs to get  a better                                                               
understanding and  clarification of Senator Wilson's  concern. He                                                               
admitted that he  was not aware of the issue  that Senator Wilson                                                               
revealed.  He asked  that Senator  Wilson  provide the  committee                                                               
with additional information.                                                                                                    
4:06:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER held SCR 5 in committee.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SR 7 Version J.PDF SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 7
SR 7 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 7
SCR5 - Version A.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 - Support Document-Condoleezza Letter 2.2.18.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 - Support Document-PBS Article 2.2.18.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 - Support Document-data summary 2.2.18.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 - Support Document Annie E. Casey--Early Literacy 2.2.18.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 8 Ver. D.PDF SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 8
SR7 Fiscal Note.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 7
SCR 5-support document-Testimony of Posie Boggs of Alaska Reading Coalition 2.5.18.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 5 Testimony.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 8 Black History Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/6/2018 3:30:00 PM
SR 8