Category: Education

State Commission Approves Birmingham Charter School

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The Alabama Public Charter School Commission approved plans for a new charter school in Birmingham on Monday. The Birmingham school board rejected the i3 Academy application in January, and school organizers appealed to the state.

The next step is for i3 Academy and the state to negotiate a contract for the school. It will outline expectations for academic performance, school operations and finances, school officials said.

Tommy Bice, former state education superintendent, is part of the team working to open i3 Academy as a K-5 charter school in Woodlawn in 2020. Read more.

Fast-Tracked Common Core Repeal Bill Passed by the Senate

Updated MONTGOMERY – A bill to repeal the state’s Common Core education standards cleared the Senate on Thursday, a day after being passed in committee.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, in previous years stood in the way of Common Core repeal efforts. But now he says removing the standards and charging the Alabama Board of Education to start over is aimed at improving Alabama’s lagging student performance.

“My position early on was that the (state) Department of Education and the board, elected by the people, should figure this out,” Marsh told Alabama Daily News this week. “That’s policy. We’re sitting here today with math scores in the eighth-grade level at 49th in the country and reading at 46th. I mean, you can’t justify that. So we’re saying after nine years with this program, it’s not working and we need to change direction.”

The bill would require the state board of educatiion to adopt new standards for the 2021-2022 school year. Originally the bill had called for the new standards to be in place for the 2020-2021 school year, and it required the state to revert to the previous standards in place during the 1990s and 2000s for the upcoming academic year. Some educators objected to changing the standards twice in two years and said making the changes would be a burdensome and costly task.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the bill would have a lot of unintended consequences.

Read more.

Report: Violence, Housing Costs Affect Health Outcomes

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A report out Tuesday published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute ranks the health of all 67 counties in Alabama. This year, Shelby County comes in first. Jefferson County ranks in the top third. The report compares differences based on location as well as race and ethnicity. Read more.

Hoover Residents Seek Ways to Combat Racism in Schools

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Ali Massoud, a 2011 graduate of Hoover High School, says he was disappointed at a video depicting white students who attend Hoover schools using the N-word and anti-Semitic slurs. But he wasn’t surprised.

“I think a lot of students of color who have been through the Hoover High School system have seen small aggressions on display, and so the fact that this was caught on camera shows the rest of the world that those things are not just in our minds” Massoud says. “They are real and they are happening.”

Massoud and others want to know what school officials plan to do about it. Recently, Massoud started a petition demanding Hoover City Schools take meaningful action to address racism within the system. Read more.

Hoover Parents, School Leaders Speak Out on Diversity

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Hoover parents had their say on discrimination in city schools Thursday night, and their words could help shape how school leaders in Hoover deal with race issues.

Hoover schools want to emerge from federal oversight, required by an ongoing desegregation lawsuit. Part of the process involves drafting a plan around diversity and seeking community feedback.

Teacher Shortage: More Scholarship Money Requested as Lawmakers Start Legislative Session

Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff will make a series of recruiting trips to Alabama’s education colleges looking for the best new teachers for his schools.

He’ll try to sell candidates on what his small, rural district can offer them.

There are $4,000 signing bonuses for high school math and science teachers and special education teachers in any grade.

There are attendance bonuses for all employees. Perfect attendance gets $400 at the end of the year.

Kallhoff has even taken steps to help new teachers find homes, putting together a list of area landlords happy to rent to them.

Some of the benefits for teachers aren’t monetary. For example, the system runs a “teacher bus” between its four schools at the end of the school day, picking up children and taking them to their educator parents.

Alabama has a teacher shortage that educators say has reached crisis level, especially in rural areas, and there are fewer new teachers coming out of colleges. So, Kallhoff and other superintendents are doing whatever they can — whatever their budgets allow — to attract and keep educators. A state task force also has been studying the shortage and possible solutions to it.

Even with the $4,000 signing bonus, something not all systems can afford to offer, Kallhoff has had a special education position open for more than a year.

Systems need help, he says.

“There need to be some statewide initiatives,” Kallhoff said. “We’re quick to give tax breaks to large corporations. Why not a tax break for math, science and special education teachers?” Read more.

Jefferson County’s 30 Victims and Their Stories

Students at colleges in the Birmingham area researched lynchings of 30 victims, including facts they found mostly in government documents and press reports, along with some of their impressions of the situations. Here are links to the victims’ stories.

Lewis Houston, Nov. 24, 1883, Linn Park
Unknown, April 22, 1886, Pratt Mines
Monroe Johnson, Sept. 19, 1887, Leeds
Jeff Curry, March 18, 1888, Adger, Blue Creek Mines
Hardy Posey, April 23, 1888, Bessemer, Southern Railway Depot
George Meadows, Jan. 15, 1889, Birmingham, Near Pratt Mines
John Steele, Sept. 27, 1889, Pratt Mines
Tom Redmond, June 17, 1890, Brookside Mines
Henry Smith, Nov. 16, 1890, Hillman Community
Unknown, Nov. 17, 1890, Location Unknown
Robert Mosley, Nov. 4, 1894, Dolomite
James Anderson, Oct. 9, 1896, Toadvine, Near Rocky Creek Bridge
Henry Cyat, Oct. 10, 1896, Toadvine Area
William Wardley, Dec. 7, 1896, Irondale
Jake McKenzie, March 22, 1897, Brookside Mines
James Thomas, July 3, 1897, Blossburg
Unknown, May 11, 1901, Leeds
Charles Bentley, Aug. 2, 1901, Leeds
Jerry Johnson, Sept. 3, 1907, Birmingham
Elijah Nelms, July 29, 1908, Pratt City
William Miller, Aug. 4, 1908, Brighton
Anthony Davis, Aug. 21, 1908, Pratt City
John Thomas, April 25, 1909, Bessemer, Outskirts of Town
John Chandler, Jan. 28, 1912, Bessemer, 3rd Avenue and 19th Street
William Smith, Nov. 1, 1912, Bessemer, 1623 Second Avenue
Wilson Gardner, Aug. 23, 1913, Kilgore
Will McBride, July 12, 1923, Adamsville
Elizabeth Lawrence, July 5, 1933, Birmingham
George Taylor, Aug. 23, 1934, Stockham Park
O.D. Henderson, May 9, 1940, Fairfield