Education is ‘High Priority,’ Says New Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

By Daarel Burnette II — April 14, 2017 1 min read
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After Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid a heap of scandal earlier this week, Alabama’s newest governor, Kay Ivey, surprised educators by showing up to the state’s school board meeting Thursday, according to reporter Trisha Powell Crain.

Bentley faced campaign and ethics violations and allegations that he used public resources to carry out and conceal an affair with his former top aide.

The governor in Alabama chairs the state’s board of education and, as I mentioned Wednesday, is in charge of the creation of the state’s accountability plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

But Crain notes that Gov. Bentley rarely attended state board meetings. In November,at an Alabama Association of Regional Councils conference, he said that the state’s schools “suck” and challenged education leaders to “do something about it.” Ironically, Crain points out, Bentley also served as the chair of the National Governors Association’s Education and Workforce committee.

Gov. Ivey, a Republican, is a former high school teacher, and she made that known during a short speech at the beginning of the board meeting.

“Education is the foundation for economic development,” she said. “Public education will be a high priority. Work with me, and I’ll work with you.”

You can watch the entire meeting here:

After the speech, she left.

The board proceeded to talk about the state’s takeover of Montgomery schools, one of the largest districts in the state, the state’s accreditation process, and the standardized tests it uses. The board then released a report that said graduation rates were down 4 percent (Alabama was found to have inflated its graduation rates earlier this year).

And Michael Sentance, the state’s superintendent, told board members that the state will now turn its ESSA accountability plan in this September rather than in April, as was originally planned.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.