Senators Joe Paskvan, Dennis Egan, and Gary Stevens during the closeout hearing of the Senate Finance DEED Subcommittee, March 20, 2012
This blog contains highlights from the Alaska Education Update. The update is issued daily during session and contains detailed summaries of education issues under consideration by the Alaska State Legislature. If there is a hearing on a Monday, a report will, with few exceptions, be released by Tuesday morning. There is also a weekly edition of the update. During interim, reports are issued only when there has been action. Interim action may include hearings, bill signings, the release of the Governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and other items that may be of interest to the education community.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Advisory Task Force on Higher Education & Career Readiness

The task force met to begin discussing what recommendations they would make in their April 1 report to the legislature. Task force staff put together a comprehensive list of preliminary recommendations for discussion (http://hecr.aksenate.org/archives/779/hecr_preliminary_recommendations_09march11). Chairman Stevens said the recommendations on the list are just suggestions, some of which he thinks are wonderful, and some he thinks are dreadful.

A number of task force members questioned the wide array of items listed as preliminary recommendations, and said they didn’t see how they fit in with the mission of the task force. Barb Angaiak, president of NEA-Alaska, said there are items in the recommendations that belong in a different venue. She was astonished at some of the things in the draft recommendations and wondered where they came from.

But several other task force members said they could see how many of the items fit in with the task force’s mission. Lolly Carpluk, coordinator, Alaska Teacher Preparation Project, UAF, said she sees all decisions as having a ripple effect.

Chairman Stevens said nothing on the list of preliminary recommendations was made up, and everything on it was suggested either at the meetings or in correspondence.

Mike Andrews, executive director, Alaska Works Partnership, said he's been looking forward to more opportunity for discussion, so when he saw the recommendations he thought it was a good opportunity to discuss them. While he didn't recognize all the recommendations, he knew there were comments made. He viewed today as the day the take the skin off the grape – to bring everything together on this critically important topic, with task force members who are highly invested. They are at a point where they can talk about the issues.

Tim Lamkin, staff to Chairman Stevens, said the suggested recommendations are the result of task force discussions, and additional discussions. Duties of the task force include identifying contributing causes and exploring new approaches that may be effective. One of the most consistent messages he heard, from many people who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, was that they're looking at it from the wrong end, and need to go deeper into the whole education system. If they can improve parental involvement, and different ways that they look at every one of the components, then that could result in less need for remediation, rather than just band aiding remediation in and of itself. He said that’s why the recommendations may be such a shock to people.

There were several suggested recommendations that were not supported by any task force member, and other suggestions where there was conflicting opinion. Chairman Stevens asked people to look through recommendations and suggest which should just be tossed, and which should be considered further.

The task force also heard a presentation from Cathy LeCompte, Tech Prep Consortium board member, on the Tech Prep Initiative (http://www.alaska.edu/techprep/).

A full report on task force deliberations from Thursday and Friday will appear in a special weekend edition of the Alaska Education Update.