The State Board of Education’s Preliminary FY16 Budget Request – UPDATED 12/17/14

The State Board of Education (SBOE) approved a preliminary budget proposal for FY16 at the December 10, 2014, board meeting. The proposal marks the beginning of a three-year initiative to bring Foundation Program funding back to a better operational level. The request also reflects priorities for the SBOE. The handouts posted on the ALSDE site reflect an increase in the […]

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Where Are Alabama’s Children Enrolled in School?

Where are Alabama’s children enrolled in school? Good question. The debate over the number of children utilizing scholarships available through the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) has raised that question. And it’s a good question. Alabama’s largest scholarship granting organization (SGO), the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, stated that nearly 1,400 students zoned to “failing” schools were awarded scholarships for […]

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What the ACT Aspire Results Really Show

The agenda for the Alabama State Board of Education work session for December 11 shows the second topic to be “Student Assessment Report”. While it hasn’t been confirmed, some of us are hoping that State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice will share the long-awaited and much-anticipated statewide results from last spring’s inaugural ACT Aspire administration for grades […]

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The Alabama Accountability Act – The Basics

The Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) is nothing if not controversial. The Flexibility/Tax Credit/School Choice bill is used as a club by various political groups to beat up on their opponent, whoever that may be. It has been an equal-opportunity hammer, used by all sides (because there are more than two sides) to point out what […]

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The Lee v. Macon Docket – The Middle and Northern Districts

Anthony and Henry Lee were among fourteen black students who filed a lawsuit against the Macon County Board of Education in 1963 after being denied admission to the all-white Tuskegee High School. Segregation in schools by race was abolished in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision on May 16, 1954….nine years earlier. […]

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Why Those Desegregation Monitoring Reports Matter

Just a few weeks ago, Hoover City school officials were finally ordered to file the reports required under section VII of the 1971 desegregation order that followed them when they broke away from Jefferson County Schools in 1988. I’d been looking for those reports for a long, long time, taking for granted that Hoover was actually […]

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Teacher Absences in Alabama’s Schools

Teacher absenteeism is a subject we don’t hear about much, but during the 2011-2012 school year, across the state, nearly one-third, or 15,342 of Alabama’s classroom teachers missed more than 10 days of school according to the data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). Leading research indicates that student achievement can be negatively impacted by […]

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Is Getting Kids to Go to School a Problem in Alabama?

According to State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice’s memo proclaiming September “Attendance Awareness Month”, Alabama’s K-12 public school students missed more than 7 million days of school, equating to more than 49 million instructional hours, during the 2013-2014 school year. Bice has made attendance a recurring theme when he talks about K-12 public education in Alabama. Students […]

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The Vital Role of PTAs

School-based Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a vital force in advocating for a local community’s wants and needs for its children…all of its children. Most folks don’t understand the underlying difference between PTAs and Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs), with many believing there’s not much of a difference at all. But oh, there is a big difference. Both organizations […]

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Get Connected – The Schedule

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how excited I am to have the opportunity to explore a new way to share information through a regular segment on The Alabama Way, called “Get Connected”, airing on Tuesday mornings (and repeating on Thursday mornings) from 5:00 to 6:00 a.m. on WPXH-44 in Birmingham. The interview with Disability […]

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The FY16 Rolling Reserve Cap and Other Calculations

Time to talk FY16 budgets. Yep, FY15 just began on October 1, 2014, but good budget planning begins years ahead, right? One of the political footballs that gets tossed around every year is what’s known as the Rolling Reserve Cap. State education officials are always eager to know the amount of the Cap so they can look […]

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The Alabama Accountability Act: Who Is Eligible for Scholarships?

The Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) of 2013 provides eligible students needing money to change schools the opportunity to apply for and receive scholarship money through Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs). Many questions have arisen about these scholarships, particularly after the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) released the required public report showing SGOs had awarded only nine scholarships […]

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Amendment 4 – Protection for Local School Boards Against Unfunded Mandates

Amendment 4 will be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 4. Proponents claim it will protect local school boards against unfunded mandates from the state legislature. An unfunded mandate refers to an action that is mandated by a state (or federal) legislative body that requires expenditures of funds by another government entity but doesn’t actually provide […]

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Student Incident Data for Alabama’s Schools

How many incidents of harassment were there in your school district during the 2012-2013 school year? How many fights were there? Bomb threats? Keep reading to find out. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) collects this data from all of Alabama’s school districts every year. Aggregated data at the state level has been published in […]

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Imagine Being Sued for Advocating for Your Child in School….

Imagine being sued because you wrote a letter to your school district’s superintendent expressing concerns about your child’s education and the grownups managing that education. This actually happened in Bibb County. A mother of a child with special needs was sued by her child’s former special education case manager, referred to simply as a teacher in […]

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Get Connected: A New Endeavor for the Alabama School Connection

A little more than a month ago, the opportunity arose for the Alabama School Connection to become a regular part of a local public affairs program, The Alabama Way. I had been a guest on the program a couple of times, and the station manager, Debra Perry, offered me the opportunity to share information about public […]

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Alabama and the United States: Who Is Paying for Public Education?

Ever wonder who is footing the bill for our children’s K-12 public education? Where does the money come from? Specifically…where does the revenue come from? Has that changed through the years? We hear general statistics like state revenue accounts for about half of all revenue used for K-12 public education, with the feds contributing about 10% […]

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What Do Check Registers Reveal About School Spending?

With news of  Alabama’s abysmal ranking in yet another study about K-12 school funding coupled with hints at possible changes to the formula used to distribute Alabama’s tax dollars to school districts, one of the questions that needs to be asked is how exactly school officials are spending our tax dollars. Many school districts have asked […]

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What Do You Realllly Think of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards? Input, Please

Loaded question, right? Wellll….the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) is giving everyone…and I mean everyone….the opportunity to state whether they agree or disagree with any of Alabama’s English Language Arts (ELA) or math standards. This is your chance, folks. Speak now. Make. The. Time. Are you with me? Beginning on October 6, the ALSDE began […]

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Going to Jail Because of Your Child’s Chronic Health Problem

Right now, in two different school systems in Alabama, two sets of parents have been ordered to spend time in jail because their child missed too many days of school. In each case of these two cases, the child is suffering from chronic health issues that have been well-documented by physicians. In each case, school officials challenged […]

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Are Board Meetings a Good Place to Seek Solutions?

In the past few weeks, we have heard many stories of the public’s frustration with their board of education erupting into tension-filled boardrooms. Typically that happens during the “public comments” or “public participation” section of the meeting. This one was in Hoover, where parents are frustrated with what school officials admit is an attempt to engineer racial […]

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Student Privacy and Education Technology – What You Need to Know (Or Should At Least Be Asking)

What kind of information is your child sharing through the education technology used in your child’s school or classroom? What procedure did your child’s teacher, school, or district go through to ensure that the chosen education technology is using your child’s information only for education purposes? What board policies govern the choice of that education technology? Have you […]

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ACT Aspire Results – What to Do with Them

Word on the street is that the ACT Aspire results have been released to schools and districts…and will be heading home to students’ families in the near future. The ACT Aspire reading and math tests were administered to students in the 3rd through 8th grades in the spring of 2014. The idea behind using the […]

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How Much Is Too Much to Keep in the District’s General Fund?

    Public school funding trends seem to be taking a positive turn, though Alabama’s schools aren’t receiving anywhere near the amount of money they did in FY08. Here’s a quick visual, depicting nominal and real (deflated) dollars, which takes into account the time value of money, of state funding for public schools from FY01 to […]

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The Role of Schools in Eliminating Bullying and Cyber-Bullying – Thursday, September 18 Forum

Here are all resources handed out and discussed at the Forum Would you like to know what your school officials are doing to positively impact bullying and harassment in our schools? Or what role school officials can play when students are cyber-bullied? Join me on Thursday, September 18, at Samford University in Birmingham from 6:00 to […]

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