The House and Senate Finance DEED Subcommittees and the House Task Force on Sustainable Education are all holding their own separate multiple, long hearings this interim, with the stated intent to look at education and education funding. A number of legislators have said over the past eight months that current education funding is not sustainable, appearing to imply either that education funding will need to be cut in the future, or that there will not be any increases, regardless of increasing costs to school districts.
Recently, Rep. Lynn Gattis, chair of the House Education Committee, requested a report from Legislative Research on the differences between the common core standards and Alaska's new standards. The report was completed May 31, 2013, and found two basic differences:
On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Steve Thompson, Lora Reinbold, and Peggy Wilson introduced HB 197, requiring mandatory retention of third graders not proficient in reading on state assessments.
On Wednesday, April 3, 2013 the House Education Committee spent two more hours on HB 151, and the more testimony I hear on the bill, the more it sounds like something that is certainly well-intentioned, but which confuses the issue of school grading with school improvement and would be unworkable for Alaska. Rep. Paul Seaton, Rep. Peggy Wilson, and Rep. Dan Saddler all sounded pretty skeptical of the efficacy of HB 151, and they all made good points in their discussion of the bill.
During the Wednesday, March 13, 2013 House Education Committee hearing on HB 142, Galena Superintendent Chris Reitan said, regarding classes students take, that their boarding school requires four years each of English, math, science, and social studies. Beyond that, there are elective requirements. Most areas students focus on fall in to the elective category. He said it's impossible for a student who wants to get the number of hours required by the state for cosmetology, which is 1,650, to do all those hours and meet the other graduation requirements.
The House Finance Dept. of Education & Early Development Subcommittee held their budget closeout on Thursday. The committee room scheduled for the hearing was far too small, with standing room only, and many people were turned away, including at least two legislators – Sen. Dunleavy and Rep.
I found the discussion during Monday's House Education Committee hearing about how “charter schools are so much better because of parental involvement, and how can we make other parents more involved – it would just solve much of the problems, and we can’t make it easier for parents to have their children attend charter schools by providing transportation, meals, and charter school facilities, because then the parents wouldn’t be as committed to making the charter schools successful” very difficult to listen to because of my personal experience with a charter school and the “volunteer” time
In close to half a dozen legislative hearings so far this year, legislators have questioned whether Alaska Performance Scholarship awards for students attending private postsecondary institutions are constitutional under Article IIV of the Alaska Constitution. The Alaska Supreme Court identified four items in the 1979 Sheldon Jackson College vs. State of Alaska case: