3rd Graders at Risk of Being Held Back for Poor Reading Skills; Local Schools Where That’s More and Less Likely
More than one-fifth of Alabama’s third graders last spring failed to pass a standardized reading test.
In more than 50 schools across the state, 50% or more of the students ended third grade without necessary reading skills needed by that age, according to the test results released recently by the state.
Seven of those schools are in the Birmingham City School system. The Tarrant School System as a whole also fell below the halfway mark, and the Fairfield system barely topped 50%.
This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade, except under certain conditions. Read more and find schools’ scores.
The Jefferson County Commission was told during its committee meeting Tuesday that it needs to declare a public health and safety emergency when it comes to emergency medical service in the county.
Todd Sheridan is a senior associate with Fitch and Associates, the firm hired to research issues in ambulance response times in Jefferson County. His report today laid out a picture in which some parts of the metro area could have multiple ambulance services responding to a call while others could have none.
And some of those who do get responses may have to wait as long as 4½ hours.
At least 15 first responders circled the room where commissioners met to hear Sheridan discuss four options for the commission. Read more.
Alabama leads the nation in graduating high school students on time, but middle school students’ math and reading scores are near last in the country, according to a new report.
Alabama ranked 46th in the nation in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2022 Kids Count Data Book released today. That ranking is up from 47th in 2021.
The annual report looks at 16 indicators of child well-being related to education, health care, economic factors and community and family. Data points come from 2016 through 2020.
Alabama did improve in 10 of the indicators but in four of them the state fell behind the rest of the nation, according to a written statement today. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council approved more than $13 million in capital project funding Tuesday, focusing most prominently on streetscaping and improvements on city-owned properties such as Vulcan Park and Rickwood Field.
Several city councilors expressed relief about the funding, saying that it would put to rest major complaints they have received from their constituents.
“Thank you on behalf of the Pine Knoll Vista neighborhood,” District 4 Councilor J.T. Moore told Mayor Randall Woodfin, referencing the $815,000 that will be allocated to drainage improvements in that neighborhood. “That neighborhood has really been on my head about it. I can go to neighborhood association meetings and not sweat because we’re actually making moves on this project.” District 9 Councilor LaTonya Tate echoed that gratitude over $598,615 in funding for drainage improvements in Hooper City, saying she had stepped into a “lion’s den” of complaints upon becoming councilor.
Mayor Randall Woodfin acknowledged that not every district’s needs could be fully met by this round of allocations, but he added that a meeting has been set with the finance team and the city’s bond counsel to “go deep” on potential market-based sources of funding. Read more.
Jimmie Stephens had hoped to leave Thursday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Commission with the county fully armed in its efforts to squelch illegal bingo in unincorporated Jefferson County.
Instead, the commission president left the meeting disappointed after the resolution failed on a 2-2 vote.
As in Tuesday’s committee meeting of the commission, Stephens would not discuss specifics of how the resolution would help the county crack down on bingo operations.
The resolution states only: “Therefore, be it resolved by the Jefferson County Commission that the resolution directing the County Attorney to pursue and initiate all legal actions.”
Stephens said the resolution called for no new ordinances to have been passed today. “It was the enforcement of the existing ordinances to be uniform and the enforcement of all of our zoning ordinances,” Stephens said after the meeting. Read more.
JeffCo Commission Indicates It Will Look for Alternate Absentee Voting Space After Clerk Alleges Voter Suppression
Bessemer Absentee Voting Clerk Karen Dunn Burks had a hug for every member of the Jefferson County Commission present after the panel settled on a resolution to a contentious disagreement over where absentee voting will take place in Bessemer.
During its meeting Tuesday at the Bessemer Justice Center, commissioners moved to Thursday’s meeting agenda a plan for absentee voting to continue in the ceremonial courtroom in the basement of the justice center while the offices of the county manager and general services explore the possibility of moving the office to the second floor.
Burks last week accused Jefferson County government of voter suppression because of plans to move her office from the courtroom basement to another office also in the basement. She contended the plan created unfair conditions and accommodations for voters and was inhumane.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Burks said, “I feel very hopeful. I feel very good. Read more.
As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street. Read more.
The Jefferson County Commission continued celebrating a summertime yuletide Thursday as it adopted resolutions that usher in development to the county.
After commissioners sent four development items to the agenda, Commissioner Joe Knight said the experience was “Christmas in August.”
But Commission President Jimmie Stephens made it clear the agreements that were consummated today were not gifts to the respective operations. Jefferson County was making an investment. Read more.
The latest strain of COVID-19 is more contagious than its ancestors, leading to more rebound infections and more infections among people who had so far been able to avoid it. Read more.
An expert explains how issues from staffing to healthcare to climate change have contributed to a recent rise in deaths in prisons across the Gulf South. In Alabama, at least 22 people have died while incarcerated at the Donaldson Correctional Facility alone. Read more.
As payments roll in, guaranteed income recipients in Birmingham, Atlanta and New Orleans reflect on what it means for their lives. Read more.
It’s time for Alabamians who do not want to catch COVID to put back on their masks.
That was the advice from the Alabama Department of Public Health this week as cases continued to increase across the state.
After the state’s positivity rate dropped to single digits in the spring and hospitals cleared out their overflow patients, people began to think the pandemic was over.
It is not.
Hospitalizations have been rising in recent weeks, and 677 people diagnosed with COVID were in Alabama hospitals Friday, According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID dashboard.
That’s the highest number since February, but it’s not nearly the almost 3,000 daily average COVID patients in hospitals in January.
The state’s positivity rate, which shows the portion of people who were officially tested for COVID-19 and returned a positive result, has risen to 30.2%. Read more.
Decisions about polling places in Alabama are up to county officials. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder, eliminated the requirement for any changes in voting procedures in Alabama and several other states to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. Since 2010, 31 Alabama counties have closed 155 voting precincts. Read more.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin told the City Council on Tuesday that staffing shortages were the root cause of recent delays in bulk trash and brush pickups throughout the city. Councilor Valerie Abbott said she’d received “tons of calls” from residents upset that their trash had not been picked up. Read more.
“I can’t even.”
That was a common remark on social media in the wake of discovery that a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, left a 2-year-old boy orphaned. He was found wandering in the street. “Are Mommy and Daddy coming soon?” he later asked his grandfather.
I can’t even.
Of course, what’s the unspoken part of that sentence?
“I can’t even comprehend something so awful.”
“I can’t even imagine what life will be like for him.”
“I can’t even believe we live in a society where that could happen.”
All of the above.
And for some people: “I can’t even bring myself to read the news these days.”
It’s bad out there: COVID, the Ukraine war, mass killings, political insanity, add your own. Many people decide they just don’t want to read or watch it anymore. They engage in “news avoidance.” Read more.
The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to allocate roughly one-third of its remaining federal COVID relief funds among the city’s police department, fire and rescue, public works and “district-specific and citywide council projects.” Read more.