The New Education-Related Laws from the 2014 Session

Click the link, read the synopsis. Check out the Current Legislation page for the final status of all education-related bills. Here’s the FY15 ETF budget, with only the items specific to K-12. (Here’s the spreadsheet.) Here’s the full FY15 ETF budget. Further analysis coming soon.

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ACT Assessments – What You Need to Know

Annual standardized testing season is here. The ACT Aspire and ACT Plus Writing will be administered to Alabama’s public school students later this month. Here’s what you need to know. ACT has a full suite of tests to assess where a student’s achievement is in relation to the college- and career-ready standard benchmarks developed by ACT. These […]

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What Are the Real Options for Alabama Students in “Failing” Schools?

During the 2013 legislative session, the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) became law, with the authors and proponents stating that the AAA would give children stuck in failing schools real options for transferring out of those public schools. Alabama now has a year under its belt and some additional numbers to examine. So let’s take a […]

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Education Budget for FY15 – FINAL VERSION

UPDATE APRIL 12 – 10:00 p.m. – The Governor signed this version yesterday (April 11). This is the final version. UPDATE APRIL 3 – 8:00 p.m. – The House concurred and this budget now goes to the Governor. No pay raise was included in the legislature’s approved ETF budget. Here is the PDF from the […]

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How Big of a Budgetary Priority Are Our Public Schools?

States are responsible for funding public education, right? And states fund public education by passing a budget through which monies are allocated to public schools, right? A budget is a policy tool. A budget delineates and clarifies priorities. Every year, about this time (right before the legislative session ends), our state legislators finally get around […]

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Paying to Learn: The Hidden Cost of Public Education, Part 2

Paying to learn has become a generally-accepted principle in Alabama’s public schools. As taxpayers have refused to increase funding for public education and as the state legislature continues to carve up the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget among agencies other than public schools, local school officials have sought ways to shift the cost to the […]

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The Civil Rights Data – How to Get to It and What It Tells Us

The U.S. Department of Education recently released the 2011-2012 civil rights data collected from schools across the country. These numbers give us a whole lot more information than we can get from our local districts and the ALSDE about access and equity in our schools. This information can be used to ensure discriminatory practices (intentional […]

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This Is When Alabama’s Schools Are on Spring Break

Spring Break week has begun for 122 of Alabama’s 135 school districts. Six districts are out next week, and another six districts the week of April 14, 2014. Pike County students were out for Spring Break the week of March 10. You know how much I like maps, right? So here’s a map of who […]

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Accountability Reports: Who Has Those Online?

As Sunshine Week 2014 comes to an end, I want to share the results of one more search for reports on Alabama’s school district web sites: the set of reports known as the “Accountability Reports”. Each year, pursuant to Alabama Act 1995-313, every Alabama school district is required to produce “Accountability Reports”, comprised of three […]

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Who Isn’t Posting Required Financial Statements on Time?

The simple answer to that question is: about one of every five school districts. This month. In continued celebration of Sunshine Week 2014, I reviewed all 135 school district web sites on Sunday, March 16, and Monday, March 17, looking for a few specific pieces of information. The results of the search for monthly financial […]

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Must-Read K-12 Education News Weekly

On March 1st, I began publishing a weekly collection of must-read news and information items through Storify. It is published every Saturday evening (sometimes pretty late-night, actually), and can be found on the right side of this page. No notifications go out through this site, only through Twitter. Sincere appreciation to all of the hard-working […]

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Check Register Table with Links

I should have known that the post about check registers would be no fun without the table. Sorry. Below is a table depicting which of Alabama’s 135 school districts were in compliance with the ALSDE’s requirement to post check registers online as of 8:00 p.m. March 17. The “Financial Page” link takes you to the […]

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Sunshine Week is HERE! Check Registers Online? Find Out.

OK. It’s Sunshine Week. 2014. I celebrated first by broadcasting, live, the Hoover Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 17. [No decision yet on charging fees to students who rely upon buses to transport them to and from school.] Now it’s time to share some Sunshine with the rest of the state. Beginning October […]

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Six Legislative Days Left: What’s Been Done So Far

Day 25 begins on Tuesday, March 18.  Six legislative days left. What’s been done? What’s still to come? Check out the Current Legislation page for the latest updates. The table has been modified to allow it to be sorted by where the bill is in the process of becoming a law: 1 – In committee in […]

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Remediation Rates by District and School – Class of 2012

All this talk of College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) made me stop to remember why somebody decided creating new standards was necessary in the first place. Every source consulted agrees that one reason was to produce high school graduates better prepared for college and careers. Evidence has existed […]

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Testing – How Much and What’s It Used For?

Much of the criticism of Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which are contained within the CCRS, has centered around standardized testing: how much testing and how the results will be used. So let’s look at the facts. How Much Right now, the highest number of days […]

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So Who Is Sponsoring the Senate Takeover of K-12 Public Education?

Three bills have been introduced to usurp the power granted to the State Board of Education (SBOE) and State Superintendent: SB380 - Provides for termination of English Language Arts and Math courses of study and revert to prior courses of study. SB438 - Calls for Constitutional amendment to change State Superintendent from appointed to elected position. SB443 - […]

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Senate’s Attempt to Takeover K-12 Education: Public Hearing Tuesday, March 11

Thirteen members of the Alabama Senate have come together to attempt what can only be called a takeover of K-12 public education. They all are sponsors of SB443. A public hearing has been called for Tuesday, March 11, at 10:00 a.m. in Montgomery in Room 304 (which does not have live audio) of the statehouse. Senators […]

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Senator Beason’s SB438: Elected State Superintendent?

UPDATE 3/15/14: Senate Education Committee has carried over this bill. Senator Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, has filed a bill calling for a Constitutional Amendment to change the State Superintendent of Education from an appointed to an elected position. SB438 would provide for the state superintendent to be elected every four years beginning in November 2016. Currently, […]

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Crowdfunding: Raising Money for Our Public Schools

What is crowdfunding? It’s where you ask folks through the internet or other online means to help fund whatever it is you need or want to buy. [I used it last year to help fund this web site.] What you may not know is that our public school teachers are reaching out through crowdfunding sites […]

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The Good Stuff Happening in Our Schools

Ever get tired of hearing the bad news about Alabama’s public schools? Wanna know where to find the good stuff? If you’re on Twitter (and you should be), check out this list of Twitter feeds for 31 of Alabama’s school districts. That’s where the good stuff is. While only 31 of our 135 school districts […]

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High School Graduates: Reflective of the Population Living There?

After reviewing the 4-year high school graduation rates for the class of 2013, the question came to mind: what is the percentage of students that graduated in 2013 compared with the population living within the school district’s geographic boundaries? In other words: are the public schools where you live producing a level of high school […]

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Graduation Rates Across Alabama – The Class of 2013

Graduating from high school results in a lifetime of higher pay. 80% of Alabama’s students who entered high school in the fall of 2009 graduated in the spring of 2013. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice shared the good news about Alabama’s graduation rate, the highest ever, during the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget hearings in January. […]

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Sovereign Immunity and a Student’s Bill of Rights

Sovereign immunity, simply stated, is a doctrine preventing the government or its agents from being sued. Case law currently exists protecting teachers and other public school employees from civil lawsuits when the alleged wrongdoing (the reason for the lawsuit) was done while they were performing duties related to their jobs (likely an oversimplification, but I’m […]

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Cyber and Virtual Schools Bills in the Pipeline

A trio of bills, HB456, HB479, and SB345 aim to create more choice for Alabama’s public school students. The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Information Technology – HB456 The first, HB456, creates the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Information Technology. This school would be structured similarly to that of the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) […]

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