Tag: Alabama Education

5 Things to Know About Alabama’s Back-to-School COVID Toolkit

Over the last several weeks, the hyper-contagious delta variant and surge in COVID-19 cases have pushed school districts to make last-minute changes to their plans for back to school.

Many health officials and school administrators said they were waiting for the Alabama Department of Public Health to release its back-to-school guidance in order to make decisions about masking, social distancing and vaccinations for K-12 schools.

Now, that 2021-2022 toolkit is here, and it has prompted some schools in Jefferson County to quickly update their COVID-19 protocols. The state guidance provides schools and guardians with checklists, testing guides and information on how to best protect students and teachers throughout the school year. Read more.

Schools Opening Short on Teachers Because of an Increase in Retirements

Beadie Bell has been a teacher in the Bessemer City School system for 20 years now. As a pre-school educator, she has seen many teachers come and go over the years but said she has seen a particularly “surprising” number of educators who have chosen to retire this past year.

According to 2020-21 numbers provided by Alabama’s Teacher Retirement System, 3,515 employees retired during the school year, the highest number since 2010-11. It’s a trend many school systems throughout the state have seen in the past year, and the number keeps growing.

That trend has left many school systems looking for new teachers even as they begin opening their doors for the new school year.

Jefferson County’s school system, for instance, has 63 open slots for certified teachers, counselors and coaches posted on the Alabama Department of Education’s site as the system nears its Aug. 10 opening date. Birmingham City Schools had 56 open teaching positions listed on the DOE site and 29 open sports coaching positions as schools started Tuesday. Read more.

More on the upcoming school term:

State Hiring Marketing Firm for Teacher Recruitment

5 Things to Know About Alabama’s Back-to-School COVID Toolkit

A+, the ACT and Poverty: Can Program Help Poor Schools Too?

A first look at the list of 81 Alabama high schools whose students scored best on the 2016 ACT exam shows an encouraging intersection: Fifty-four of those schools are participants in the A+ College Ready Initiative, a program that helps schools implement Advanced Placement programs and aims to raise education aspirations across the state.

But another view of the data, reported by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, reveals that 51 of the 54, about 94 percent, of top-performing A+ College Ready schools share another advantage. The schools are working with more affluent student bodies, those with less poverty than the state average. Read more.

ProPublica: How Jeff Sessions Helped Kill Equitable School Funding in Alabama

(The U.S. Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as the next U.S. attorney general Wednesday on a vote of 52-47.)

In the early 1990s, children across Alabama’s large rural stretches still attended faltering public schools, some with exposed wiring and rainwater leaking into classrooms. The education was in disrepair, too. Teachers couldn’t assign homework for lack of textbooks. A steel mill announced it would no longer hire local high school graduates because most tested below the eighth grade level. In short, Alabama’s most economically disadvantaged students, primarily black children and those with disabilities, were missing out on a basic education.

Then, for a moment, change seemed possible. A civil-rights lawsuit challenging the system for funding Alabama’s schools succeeded, and the state’s courts in 1993 declared the conditions in the poor schools a violation of Alabama’s Constitution. Gov. Guy Hunt, who had battled the litigation, accepted defeat, and vowed to work with the courts to negotiate a solution for equitably funding all of Alabama’s schools.

“This is a unique and timely opportunity to make historic improvements in Alabama’s public schools for our children,” Hunt said at a news conference in 1993, “and we will not miss this opportunity.”