Published Online: January 28, 2014
Published in Print: January 29, 2014, as Alabama

State of the States

State of the States: Alabama

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Gov. Robert J. Bentley (R)
Date of Speech: Jan. 14

Gov. Bentley placed education at the center of the state's economic-development push in his annual State of the State address, announcing plans to bolster the voice of businesses in helping students become ready for college and careers.

He said he plans to present legislation that would create a Statewide Workforce Council, comprised of business and industry leaders who could advise schools and colleges on workforce needs. He wants to increase career coaches in schools and expand dual-enrollment programs so that students can take courses at a two-year-college while earning their high school diploma. He'd also like to place greater emphasis on "teaching essential skills."

"Once implemented, this program will improve high school graduation rates and increase the number of higher-skilled workers," Mr. Bentley said in his Jan. 14 address.

The governor touted the state's pre-kindergarten initiative, which he said has helped close the achievement gap between lower-income students and their more advantaged peers by as much as 29 percent. He said he'll be asking for more money for voluntary prekindergarten in his budget. Mr. Bentley also said he wants to boost teacher salaries. Alabama educators got a 2 percent pay bump last year, and the governor would like to see them receive the same increase this year.

Vol. 33, Issue 19, Page 16

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