Getting Ready to Implement
The Alaska Reads Act (House Bill 114) was signed into law July 2022. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) is currently preparing for the implementation of the law, most of which takes effect on July 1, 2023.
The new legislation creates four new programs:
- a department-level reading program
- a district-level reading intervention program
- a voluntary pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) and Parents as Teachers program
- a virtual education consortium
While work is being done to implement all four parts of the legislation, thread is focusing on the early education components.
To write the regulations and define the educational learning standards for the new pre-kindergarten program, DEED formed an Early Education Committee. In addition, an advisory group (made up of early childhood education stakeholders) has been established to work with the Early Education Committee to guide the standards work. thread is excited to announce Meghan Johnson, Early Childhood Systems Director, has been selected to participate on this advisory group.
The work on regulations will occur in four phases:
- Phase 1: Stakeholder engagement on draft regulations through surveys and panelist discussions (August-September 2022)
- Phase 2: Formal Written Public Comment period on proposed regulations (December 13, 2022-January 30, 2023)
- Phase 3: Any revision of proposed regulations following public comment period (January 30-February 15, 2023)
- Phase 4: Anticipated adoption of Alaska Reads Act Regulations (March 2023)
Phase 1 is underway and has included a survey of stakeholders and a virtual panel discussion in mid-September, which Stephanie Berglund, thread CEO, and Meghan Johnson participated on. The feedback from survey and panel discussions is being used to inform the writing of regulations and standards needed to implement the Alaska Reads Act. These regulations and standards will be open for formal public comment during Phase 2 of the process.
thread’s Position – Mixed Delivery Means a Successful Implementation
The early education component of the Alaska Reads Act contains a component to expand publicly-funded pre-kindergarten in eligible communities. However, the legislation does not explicitly support the delivery of pre-kindergarten in a mixed delivery system (e.g., delivered via licensed child care centers, child care home, Head Start, military and tribal child care).
thread believes strongly in the importance of Alaska’s pre-kindergarten services being delivered in a mixed delivery system. For the Alaska Reads Act implementation this would allow a variety of early childhood education programs that meet the quality and eligibility requirements to receive public funds to deliver pre-kindergarten services within a community. Without mixed delivery, Alaska’s pre-kindergarten system will fail to meet the mixed-delivery standard that is recognized as best practice across the country.
We are advocating for publicly funded pre-kindergarten that intentionally includes licensed child care programs to support the development of a sustainable, high-quality mixed-delivery system. Additionally, we are encouraging DEED to align early education regulations and standards with Alaska’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan Direction.
Advocacy Opportunities – Coming Soon!
The expansion of Alaska’s pre-kindergarten opportunities is something to celebrate. By making intentional implementation choices now, the Alaska Reads Act pre-kindergarten expansion can support the work to strengthen child care and early childhood learning opportunities within the state.
As the implementation process moves forward, watch this space for advocacy opportunities! Or, if you have comments or questions for DEED about the process, please contact [email protected].