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State Board of Education District 1

The Alabama State Board of Education is an elected executive agency of the Alabama state government, responsible for managing the state's public K-12 education. The board's mission is "To provide a state system of education which is committed to academic excellence and which provides education of the highest quality to all Alabama students, preparing them for the 21st century." The board is composed of nine members, including the governor, who also serves as the president of the board. The other members are elected to four-year terms by voters in one of the state's eight education districts, all of which are similar in population. Elections to the board are staggered, with Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 holding elections in presidential election years, while Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 hold elections in midterm years. Each year, the board elects a vice president and a president pro tempore from among its elected members.

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    Tom Holmes

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    Jackie Zeigler

Biographical Information

What are the three most important issues that currently face education in Alabama, and how do you suggest addressing them?

Alabama's public educational system has a very low national rating. How can we improve our schools, especially given the wide economic challenges and diversity across our communities?

School secession has become a popular idea in the south, happening most recently in the city of Gulf Shores which broke away from Baldwin County Schools last year. Between 2000 and 2017 seven counties in Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee accounted for 18 of the 47 new school districts formed in the United States. How does school secession harm or help our local areas?

Do you feel that school secsseion exacerbates segregation in our communities as more affluent cities with less diverse populations develop their own school systems causing nearby county residents to be removed from the school's population?

How do you propose to encourage and keep good teachers in Alabama? Do you think the current tenure system should be altered and if so, how?

Campaign Phone (251) 508-7916
1. Adequate state education funding. I will advocate with Governor Ivey and Alabama legislators to restore state education funding to the FY 2007-2008 levels. 2. Increase education salaries, benefits and other incentives to enable local schools to recruit and retain the very best teachers, principals and support personnel. I will advocate for annual reviews of education salaries, benefits and other incentives to insure that Alabama schools are competitive with surrounding states and advocate with Governor Ivey and Alabama legislators to provide the necessary funding. 3. The inadequate process for approving and governing charter schools. I will advocate for greater oversight by the Alabama Board of Education of the Charter School Commission and greater input in the selection and appointment of Commission members.
The Alabama Board of Education can improve our schools by: 1.) providing better leadership; 2.) adopting state policies that reflect the diversity of our population; 3.) including more diverse voices to represent ALL students, parents, teachers and citizens; and 4.) developing improved state incentives to address the needs of schools and students in economically disadvantaged local school systems.
School secession harms our local school systems by dividing limited education resources to support a new system. Parents, teachers, citizens and local school boards have a mutual responsibility to support their local schools and to work collectively to improve their existing schools and programs so that ALL students have equal educational opportunities. I believe that school secession occurs when: 1.) a community feels that their education needs and opportunities are NOT being adequately addressed by a local board of education; and 2.) a community feels that adequate education funding is NOT being devoted to their schools; and 3.) a community seeks greater control over their schools and their funding.
School secession exacerbates segregation in our communities. The new local school systems created in recent years generally serve less diverse populations than the original local system from which they seceded. The original local system from which school secession occurs generally causes the original system to become more disadvantaged than the new local system.
Good teachers should receive increased salaries, benefits and other incentives for excellent performance in the classroom. Salaries, benefits and other incentives should be reviewed annually, improvements should be made, and additional education funding should be secured to support these improvements from the Governor and Legislature.
Campaign Phone (251) 605-5139
1. Increasing student achievement:This should always be number one on any list of important educational issues. We are on an exciting forward trend of focusing on the key components of the Science of Reading. Alabama had shown true growth when the Alabama Reading Initiative had been initially implemented with fidelity and accompanied by job embedded professional development. Upon the unraveling of this key program, it left little doubt that we had to rewind and reevaluate the best path to follow in order to provide our students with the best core reading program possible. With the Literacy Act, the resurgence of these key reading components are being reintroduced and true professional development designed. This will be accomplished by adoption of LETRs. To elicit the same thought process with our Math standards, it was important that the COS was one to embrace the future to give our students those foundational skills along with long term knowledge base. After studying the new COS, I was not convinced that the new standards were any different than those we had in the past which led us down the path. I feel it will mean taking a stand until further research and disaggregating the data to determine the best approach. 2. Teacher shortage:This has been an ongoing problem but it certainly has been exacerbated with the COVID epidemic. We must continue to work with our legislators and the Retirement System of Al experts in determining the best development for the Tier retirement system. Along with the Tier system, it is important to redesign the usage of unused sick leave. It must be stated that any salary increase, or COLA, is critical in encouraging students to go into the education program as well as encourage those from out of state. Another source are retirees from other careers and encourage them to join us in the classroom. 3. Closing the Gap: Career Tech is proving a viable asset for our students. It affords an opportunity for growth, and a steady source of living
As mentioned above it is critical that we have enough highly qualified teachers to be in the classroom in every school in every community. Many of our struggling areas have to compete with larger school districts that may offer incentives or travel to entice them to their schools. We need to determine how best to fill those vacancies by implementing the ideas mentioned above. In addition, reading and math programs based on proven research and ongoing, job embedded professional development can be the bonus to start moving our rating in the right direction. I am always cautious to use only one indicator to determine our rating but it should be a point of action in our conversation. We need to use assessments as viable components to see what efforts are showing rewards and which are not. Keep what is working for our students and discard what is not. Let's stop staying on the same road, using the same standards if they are not proving to be the right fit for our program. We are responsible for ALL students in the state, while focusing on our own district, but we must do what is the right thing for all our kids. When all our students succeed, then the whole state succeeds with increase in business and industry, more community involvement and increase in our students' success rate for their future.
I truly believe that when local citizens are involved in major decisions that affect them deeply and their voices heard, then positive results can occur. It is important that compilation of all the necessary information be current, obtaining tax information, local businesses in area, citizen input along with deep analysis of other similar school systems to determine pros and cons so that future roadblocks can be avoided. This is not a decision to be made lightly or in a rush. It takes a road map that lays out all the steps necessary in order to make the best decision possible. Systems where their citizens take an active role and ownership into the schools, then it has proven time and again to be successful. Rushed, not enough information gathered will only result in a decision that can later cause harm to the local area. Usually newly formed systems occur when dissatisfaction arises, the community feels as if they are not being heard or ignored or unhappy about the direction their present school system is going. Open communication, transparency and actual listening to concerns from community can, at times, prevent a system from pulling out. Is this always the case? No, not in all cases.
We also have to be cognizant to the possibility that formation of independent school systems may end up creating a void in nearby struggling areas with a loss of student population, teacher shift, families moving, etc. If one looks carefully to smaller systems that created own system one needs to determine why such a move was made. Normally, it is due to unhappiness in direction present system is going. What can be done? Present systems need to be much aware that parents, grandparents, community and businesses all want a vibrant, solid system that is always trying to look at improving test scores, offering valid career ed classes, virtual classroom opportunities along with after school and extra curricular activities. Seldom will a group of citizens make a move to start a new system if all appears well and students remain as the number one focus. It needs to be mentioned that small, non-affluent communities have ventured out on own and with success. It is amazing what a shared vision with total buy-in can take you.
Altering the tenure system at a time of teacher shortage would not be beneficial. I believe that restructuring the retirement tier system would be a huge improvement in attracting new hires. Changing how a teacher/staff member can utilize unused sick leave would go a very long way in keeping teachers in the classroom and staff on the job. Now is the time to look at neighboring states to determine their starting salary and benefits so our state can be proactive in recruitment. We must be competitive in this market. It should also be on the front burner the need to attract candidates into the college of education. Public negativity about the poor shape of our schools does not bode well when trying to attract teacher candidates. We, as society, have a tendency to be negative in our reporting rather than telling the wonderful things actually going on in our schools. Is improvement needed? Absolutely, but when was the last time conversation was forthcoming after spending actual time viewing instruction and not just a photo-op or quick walk of the halls? Great things are ongoing and time spent in our schools to assist and promote would go a long way in benefiting our students. Let's start by spreading the good word.