Category: Education

Jefferson County Sheriff Wants to Put Trained Officers in Every County School This Year

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale today announced plans to put a school resource officer, mostly retired law enforcement offices, in every school in the Jefferson County School System.

That plan includes forming a Threat Assessment Team to identify patterns of troubling behavior and supplying resources for managing students who display them. Read more.

Teachers, School Funding Among New Schools Chief’s Priorities

Eric Mackey is Alabama’s new superintendent of education. Before this, he was a lobbyist for state school superintendents. Mackey replaces former superintendent Michael Sentance, who was forced out after only a year on the job. Recently, Mackey supported Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan to arm school administrators at schools that don’t have a school resource officer. His conversation with WBHM’s Sherrel Wheeler Stewart begins with some of the larger issues around school safety. Read more.

Embattled JefCoEd Board Member Donna Pike Says She Won’t Resign

Donna Pike isn’t going anywhere, no matter what three of her fellow members on the Jefferson County Board of Education would like.

Pike made a brief statement to BirminghamWatch on Wednesday in which she said she has no intention of resigning, despite accusations of racism stemming from items she shared on her Facebook page.

“This has certainly been a learning experience for me and my family,” Pike said. “I vow to continue with vigor serving the children of Jefferson County and the people who elected me.”

Her statement comes after three JefCoEd members — President Oscar Mann, Vice President Martha Bouyer and Ronnie Dixon — held a called meeting Tuesday morning in which their only item of business was to pass a resolution calling for Pike to step down.
Read more.

Birmingham City Council approves funding for metal detectors, enrichment programs for city schools

Security in Birmingham City Schools will be getting a boost this fall, after the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to allocate $3,665,000 in funding to the city Board of Education.

According to the agreement, which was passed unanimously, that funding will be divided among school security, academic and athletic support, and after-school care and summer enrichment programs.

Of that $3,665,000 — which comes from the city’s general fund — $1,362,000 will go toward the purchase of 14 walk-through metal detectors, 20 handheld scanners, door alarms, security officers, and crossing guards and substitutes.
Read more.

Alabama Students Improved Performance on ACT Aspire Scores

Alabama students showed progress in most measures during the four years the state used the ACT Aspire standardized tests for students in the grades 3-8 and 10, according to a report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

The state began using the ACT Aspire suite of tests in the 2013-2014 school year. It was administered for the final time in 2017.

The PARCA report, released this week, said gains by Alabama students on the Aspire tests were strongest in math. There were modest gains in reading proficiency for grades 3-6, but results were mixed for grades 7, 8 and 10, the report said.

The report includes results of students’ scores statewide, by school systems and in comparison to national averages.

Read the PARCA report and see charts outlining results.

With Boost From City Council, Birmingham Students Can Chase a Coding Dream This Summer

The Birmingham City Council Tuesday approved funding for computer coding “boot camps” at Lawson State Community College this summer.

The funding, which according to the resolution is not to exceed $85,000, will fund four weeks of four-day camps for Birmingham City School students, running from June 18 to July 19. Up to 100 students of the city’s school system — 50 middle schoolers and 50 high schoolers — will get to participate.

Lawson State President Dr. Perry Ward said that the program would be similar to Chicago’s Apple-sponsored “Everyone Can Code” initiative, which teaches city school students an easy-to-learn coding language called Swift which can be used in developing mobile applications. Read more.

Lynching Memorial Opens in Montgomery

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first memorial in America dedicated to remembering victims of lynchings and other racial violence, opens Thursday in Montgomery. The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based legal advocacy group that has developed the memorial and a museum, is expecting thousands of visitors this weekend to the memorial, the museum and a slate of events set around the opening. Events include a summit, during which national figures such as former Vice President Al Gore will speak, and a Friday night concert. Read more.

Birmingham Students See Connection With Holocaust: ‘I Thought About How They Want to Build a Border and Kick Us Out’

High schoolers from five Birmingham City Schools arrived at Temple Emanu-el on Thursday to present artwork that interpreted their studies of the Holocaust.

The event, the culmination of a six-week program of art and social studies launched by Violins of Hope, included a day of seminars, guest speakers and a musical concert played on violins once played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.

Violins of Hope is a national organization founded by Amnon Weinstein. Weinstein, a renowned violin maker, began restoring violins that Jewish musicians were forced to play while captive in the Nazi concentration camps. Amid death and despair, the song of those violins was often the last thing Jewish victims heard before they were killed in the gas chambers. Weinstein, decided to seek out and restore those instruments as a way to honor those who died.

The violins were in Birmingham for a series of events last week, including the session with the Birmingham students at Temple Emanu-el.
“This is such a deep topic for me, being African American, and for other groups going through struggles every day, so I knew there was a lot that I could work with,” one Huffman High School student said. Read more.