Domestic Immigration Spur’s Alabama’s Population Growth

Alabama’s population has grown to more than 5 million people not because of residents expanding their families, but because of people moving into the state from other places in the country.

In fact, Alabama’s birth rate fell in the 2010’s and its death rate rose, which follows a national trend, according to a Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama analysis of U.S. Census Bureau estimates released earlier this month. Read more.

Ivey, Other Speakers, List Prisons, Health Care, Education Among Challenges for the Year

Gov. Kay Ivey told the 2020 annual meeting of PARCA that Alabama can address the challenges it faces today.

“I’m confident through our collaboration we will find solutions to tackle our difficult problems,” said Ivey, the keynote speaker at the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s annual luncheon.

Ivey gave the audience a sneak peek into her upcoming State of the State address. She said she expects to applaud the positive and issue a challenge to address areas that need improvement. Those matters include the 2020 census, the prison system, health care, mental health care and education reform. Read more.

The Gap Between Graduating and Being Ready

Alabama’s graduation rate and the rate of students deemed college and career ready both are on the rise, but concerns remain about the gap between those two numbers, according to a recent report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

PARCA reported that the graduation rate statewide has been raised from 72 percent in 2011 to 90 percent in 2018, based on preliminary information from the state Department of Education. College and career readiness rose to 75 percent in 2018, compared to 66 percent in 2016.

State education leaders have raised concerns about the students who are graduating but are not ready to get a job or go to college, PARCA reported.

PARCA has posted detailed interactive graphics that allow you to look up specific measures of readiness by school system and even compare two schools. You can find those graphics here.

Huntsville Area Leads the State in Population Growth

The Birmingham-Hoover MSA grew by just 2,116 people in 2017-2018. The area ranked 251th out of 383 MSAs in terms of population growth rate, according to an analysis of census data conducted by the Public Research Council of Alabama.

The Huntsville MSA led the state in percentage of population growth, ranking it 64th in the country. It added 6,952 people to its ranks in the period.

Other large metros in the state fell below Birmingham-Hoover in terms of growth, with Mobile ranked 324th and Montgomery 327th. However, those two areas lost population in 2017-2018, as did some other metro areas in the U.S. Read more.

PARCA Survey Says Alabamians Want Fewer Non-Violent Criminals in Prison, More Money for Education

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama in a new survey said Alabamians favor supervising non-violent criminals in the community and giving them more rehabilitation opportunities rather than sending them to prison.

In the ”Public Opinion Survey: 2019 Edition,” released Wednesday, a slight majority of residents surveyed, 58 percent, oppose building new prisons. Almost that many, 54 percent, thought only violent criminals should be held in the state’s prisons.

As in previous PARCA surveys, Alabamians ranked education as the most important service the state provides, followed by health care, public safety and highways. Read more.

PARCA Tackling Research on Alabama’s Prison Problems as Legislature Begins to Meet

The Alabama Legislature will face tough choices this year on solving problems of the state’s crowded, obsolete and under-funded prison system, and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama is preparing a series of briefings to address “a system in crisis.”

PARCA, a non-profit organization that does nonpartisan research on issues facing state and local governments in Alabama, outlined problems that it said could lead to a federal takeover of the prisons system if they are not solved.

Gov. Kay Ivey has proposed the construction of three new men’s prisons at a cost of $950 million as one step toward dealing with the issues of crowding, health care and crumbling facilities. Read more.

Who Knows What Voters Want? PARCA Asked Them.

Who Knows What Voters Want?

Alabama’s Public Affairs Research Council took a serious stab at finding out in the months leading up to Alabama’s General Election on Nov. 6. They surveyed policy professionals and registered voters and got this view of the state electorate’s state of mind. Alabama priorities, the survey found, are:

1. K-12 Education
2. Healthcare
3. Government Corruption and Ethics
4. Mental Health and Substance Abuse
5. Poverty and Homelessness State

Plus: Jobs and the Economy; Crime and Public Safety; Job Training and Workforce Development: Improving the State’s Image; and Tax Reform.

You can learn more about what fellow voters considered important and why, more factual information about these issues and about specifics of the PARCA study in the Alabama Priorities report.

You also can read PARCA’s take on what passage or defeat of the statewide amendments would mean at the PARCA Statewide Constitutional Amendment Analysis.

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.