Highlights From Issues and Ales: The Future of Education in Alabama

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This year, Alabama legislators voted to allow charter schools and expand the Alabama Accountability Act, which, among other things, diverts tax money to private schools. Teachers say there’s too much standardized testing. Racial, ethnic, and income-level achievement gaps persist among students. But there are bright spots, too. Innovative techniques and technologies are popping up in classrooms across the state. And of course, good teachers are still out there trying to make their students’ lives better every day. So, what does all this mean for the future of Alabama’s public and private schools? Can they better prepare today’s students for college and career success?

WBHM and the Southern Education Desk tackled these topics and more during “Issues and Ales: The Future of Education in Alabama,” recorded live at WorkPlay in Birmingham. You can hear highlights from the program Thursday, November 12 at 2 pm on 90.3 WBHM Birmingham, or you can click the arrow above.

The crowd at "Issues and Ales: The Future of Education in Alabama."
More than 250 people attended “Issues and Ales: The Future of Education in Alabama.”
Beau Gustafson,Big Swede Inc.

Panelists were:

Brooke Elliott, Jemison High School teacher. Elliott has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a masters in technical education. She has more than 15 years experience teaching engineering and career preparedness.

Claire Rivas, a home-schooled freshman from Trussville. Rivas is a competitive ice skater who also studies piano and plays the violin. Claire loves astronomy, photography, and literature

Jerry Tate, president of the Phillips Academy PTA and third vice president of the Birmingham Council of PTAs. He has one daughter enrolled in Birmingham City Schools and another daughter at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Dr. Deborah L. Voltz, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education, director of the Center for Urban Education, and professor of curriculum and instruction at UAB.

Panel 2:

J.W. Carpenter, executive director of the Birmingham Education Foundation. Carpenter was the founding executive director for Teach For America–Alabama. He serves on the boards of A+ Education Partnership, Operation Hope–Alabama, and Youth Entrepreneur Labs.

Rev. John McDonald, director of Catholic education and lifelong formation for the Diocese of Birmingham. Father McDonald is also the President of John Carroll Catholic High School and currently serves as the pastor of St. Aloysius in Bessemer.

Aubrey Miller, president of the Shelby County Board of Education, and former director of tourism for the state of Alabama. Most recently he served as executive director for the Alabama chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is also an ordained minister and pastor of Faith Church in the Oxmoor Valley neighborhood of Birmingham.

Thomas Rains, a former researcher, journalist, and Teach For America teacher, currently policy director for A+ Education Partnership, which advocates for better public schools in Alabama through the development of education policy proposals and issues briefs for state-level policymakers.

The Southern Education Desk is a consortium of public radio and television stations committed to exploring the challenges and opportunities confronting education in the the 21st-century South. The SED is made possible through generous support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Bonus

To see the subject of the “Key and Peele” reference (about 24 minutes in) for yourself, click here.

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