Category: Education

Business Education Alliance: High-Level Skills and Education Needed to Meet Workforce Needs

Alabama faces a shortage of 200,000 highly skilled workers to fulfill industry job predictions by 2025 unless it aligns workforce development programs and collaborations between business and education with what employers will need, said the Business Education Alliance in a report released today.

As Alabama shifts away from an industrial-based to knowledge-based economy, the BEA report stated, 60% of the working population will need to attain college-level degrees or credentials to qualify for jobs in 2025. Data for 2017 showed that 43% of the Alabama workforce possessed a college degree or other post-secondary education. Read more.

Small Fraction of Students Qualify for Birmingham Promise Scholarship

For urban students interested in college, tuition can be a major barrier. So when it was announced recently that the Birmingham Promise would offer a full tuition scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, many praised the partnership as a way to give eligible Birmingham graduates a much-needed financial boost. But there’s just one problem: most students aren’t eligible to apply for the scholarship. Read more.

Birmingham and UAB Partner to Offer Free Tuition to City Graduates

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will offer full tuition scholarships to some graduates of Birmingham City Schools as part of a new partnership with the City of Birmingham.

The city and UAB announced the scholarship program Thursday morning at a press conference.

“It makes a down payment on our city’s economic competitiveness,” Mayor Randall Woodfin says.

The Birmingham Promise Scholarship is part of a city initiative that plans to offer graduates of Birmingham schools full tuition to all in-state public universities and colleges. UAB is the first academic partner to support the Birmingham Promise with a scholarship. UAB estimates it’ll contribute $250,000 the first year, according to a spokesperson for the city. The Birmingham Promise Incorporated does not yet have an estimate on how much it’ll contribute. Read more.

Education Town Hall Set for Jan. 15

A town hall meeting on the status of education in Birmingham has been set for Jan. 15, 6-8 p.m. State Reps. Mary Moore and John Rogers, both D-Birmingham, set the town hall, called “Where Do We Go From Here.” Moore said a number of local and state Board of Education members as well as local and state elected officials have been invited to speak.

Court Says Gardendale Must Pay Opponents’ Legal Fees in Failed School System Breakaway

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund got an early Christmas present this week, at the expense of the city of Gardendale.

In what may be the last act in the six-year-long saga of the city’s abortive attempt to break away from the Jefferson County Schools, U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala ruled on Monday that Gardendale must reimburse the LDF and attorney U.W. Clemon for costs and legal fees incurred in their effort to stop the breakaway. That effort was victorious for Clemon and his team when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Gardendale could not split from JefCoEd because the proposed split was motivated by racial animosity.

Haikala ruled that Gardendale must pay almost $850,000 in fees and expenses because their effort was in bad faith, and that awarding those fees to the LDF and Clemon “…hopefully will prompt more respectful arguments in the future.”
Read more.

Birmingham School Superintendent Receives 3.55 out of 5 in Evaluation

Birmingham’s school superintendent has “met expectations and goals for improvement” according to an evaluation presented at Tuesday’s board meeting.

On a 1 to 5 scale, Superintendent Lisa Herring received a 3.55 rating.

Two metrics were used in the evaluation: a rating based on benchmarks set out by the district’s strategic plan (3.36) and a cumulative score from board members (3.75). Those two scores were averaged to produce the final number. Read more.

Walter Gonsoulin Named New JefCoEd Superintendent, Its First African American Leader

Walter Gonsoulin, who has served as interim superintendent of the Jefferson County Schools since the departure last month of Craig Pouncey, now holds the position for good.

Gonsoulin was selected unanimously by the JefCoEd Board of Education in its regular monthly meeting Thursday morning. Unlike previous searches for a new superintendent, this search was over and done almost as quickly as legally allowed — just four days after the deadline for submitting applications had passed.

While other African American educators have served briefly as interim superintendents for JefCoEd in the past, Gonsoulin is the first in the system’s history to hold the job on a permanent basis.

“It’s a great honor and a great privilege to be a part of history,” he said. “I’m thankful that the board had confidence in me to appoint me. We’re just ready to get to work to serve our 36,000 students.” Read more.

Almost One-Third of Schools on the Statewide Failing Schools List Are in the Birmingham Area

The state Department of Education released its annual list of failing schools Friday and Birmingham-area schools make up 30% of the schools on the statewide list.

Six of the area districts, Birmingham City Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Bessemer City Schools, Fairfield Schools, Tarrant Schools and Midfield Schools had schools on the list.

The list is composed of the bottom 6% of schools based on students’ standardized test scores.

Although Birmingham City Schools had 16 schools on the list, Superintendent Lisa Herring said: “We are not a failing school system. We recognize there is work to be done. We are a turnaround district, and we will not be satisfied until every scholar in our district is highly successful.” Read more.

Report Ranks Alabama Worst in the U.S. for Higher Education Cuts

WBHM
Alabama has cut per-student funding at state colleges and universities more than any state in the U.S. That’s according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Chris Sanders of Alabama Arise, a non-profit organization that advocates for low-income Alabamians, tells WBHM’s Janae Pierre that Alabama cut higher education funding by nearly 36% between 2008 and 2018. Read more.