Category: Education

Jefferson County Schools Plan to Expand Broadband to Serve Students Learning Virtually

Help is on the way for remote learners who have had little to no access to Wi-Fi. Meeting in Bessemer Thursday, the Jefferson County Commission amended the Cares Act Coronavirus Relief Fund subgrant agreement with the Jefferson County Board of Education to award an additional $4,648,600 to expand broadband capacity to reach students taking classes virtually. Read more.

Back to School: Metro Districts Moving From Virtual to Face-to-Face Instruction

As metro Birmingham school systems learn to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, many of them are changing back to traditional class schedules, or at least something closer to it.

In general, many systems that began with only virtual learning to start the year already have moved toward allowing students back on campus, at least part time. The Jefferson County School System, for instance, is in the midst of a staggered plan to get students back to school in person full time.

Others plan to reassess their schedules at the end of the first nine-week grading period, late this month. Read more and look up your school district.

Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Has Lifelong Passion For Education

Birmingham city schools have a new superintendent this fall.  Longtime educator Mark Sullivan officially took over the role last month. He’s the district’s fourth superintendent in the past decade but Sullivan is no stranger to the system. Many hope that will keep him on the job longer than his predecessors.

Taking on a leadership role in the middle of a pandemic requires some adjustments. Students and teachers continue virtual learning, but that hasn’t prevented Sullivan from making  school visits. 

On a recent day, he walked down a hallway at  Birmingham’s Phillips Academy. Sullivan is here to check in with school administrators. These are halls he knows well. “I used to be principal here … it’s hard to believe,” he said. “These hallways used to be filled with students.” 
Read more.

On Second Thought: Hoover City Schools Return Elementary Students to Classrooms, but Not Older Kids

The Hoover City School District has altered a decision to return students to classrooms on a full-time basis because of a turn for the worse in local COVID-19 data.

Instead, parents of children in fifth grade and younger who opted for in-school education will attend classes four days a week beginning Monday, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the system. That’s up from the two days a week that those students attend now. But those in grades six and higher will stay with the staggered two-day schedule — a reversal of a previous decision by the system to return to in-school classes every day. Parents who opted for virtual learning for their children may continue using that system.
Read more.

JeffCo Schools Moving Toward On-Campus Classes Starting Later this Month

Jefferson County Schools will begin accepting students back onto campuses in just more than a week.

Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin announced on Facebook Thursday that the system would resume traditional learning starting Sept. 21. Grades will have staggered starts on the in-person learning. Students will go to class two days a week at first. Wednesdays will be set aside for remote learning for children and cleaning schools for staff. After two weeks, they will transition to five days a week on campus.

Students who want to may continue with virtual learning. Read more.

Racist Textbooks Endured, Presenting Alternate ‘History’ to Alabama Students for 70 Years

Slaves in Alabama could thank their masters for providing them with one of the earliest versions of social security, according to a ninth grade textbook used for more than a decade in public schools.

The textbook — Charles Grayson Summersell’s “Alabama History for Schools” — dismissed realities of slavery, glorified the Confederacy and defended deeds of the Ku Klux Klan.

Summersell’s textbook was the ninth grade companion to Frank L. Owlsey’s “Know Alabama,” written for fourth graders. In addition to repeating much of the same Lost Cause ideology, the two esteemed authors shared similar career paths, which included serving as chair of the history department at the University of Alabama. They influenced tens of thousands of grammar-school children, high school and college students, and professors.

Both authors also drew from predecessors such as Alabama history textbook writers L.D. Miller, Albert B. Moore, L. Lamar Matthews and others for a now-disputed version of history repeated for about seven decades.

Teachers were still using Owsley’s and Summersell’s books after classrooms were widely integrated in the late 1960s, and they continued to use revised editions well into the 1970s. The later editions toned down the contention that slaves were mostly happy and contented. Read more.

More about textbooks with pro-slavery messages used to teach Alabama students.
Textbook ‘Know Alabama’ Justified Slavery, Praised Confederacy to Schoolchildren

The Loyalty Foundation and Partners Chip in Computers for Area Students

With an eye toward bridging the digital divide, The Loyalty Foundation joined forces with Jefferson County and other partners to provide computers to students in underserved communities in the region.

Fifty boxes with new computers were on display today in the County Commission chambers as the joint effort was announced. Commissioner Sheila Tyson is part of the effort, along with DC BLOX, an Atlanta-based data center provider in Birmingham’s Titusville Community. Read more.

Board of Education President Criticizes Woodfin’s Plan to Cut Funding for Birmingham Schools

Though she insisted that she was “absolutely not here in my professional capacity,” Birmingham School Board President Daagye Hendricks addressed the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, calling Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget “egregious” for cutting funding to city schools.

This year’s city budget is nearly $50 million smaller than last year’s budget, thanks to a sharp decline in the city’s business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the $412 million budget’s many proposed austerity measures — which include funding cuts for external organizations and furloughs for hundreds of city employees — is a reduction of $1 million in city funding to Birmingham City Schools.
Read more.

Hoover, Shelby Schools Planning Moves to 5-Day-a-Week Classes

In-person learning at Hoover City and Shelby County schools will go to 5-day-a-week formats later this month.

In each case, the move is a continuation of plans that had been in place for the year. Shelby County told parents Monday that the change to five days a week would go into effect Sept. 14, and Hoover schools make the change Sept. 21, provided the COVID-19 numbers remain favorable.

Any students going to school virtually will continue to do so. Read more.