AMSTI is worthy of funding

Published 9:13pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After the grueling 2013 legislative session, Alabama Republicans and Democrats can finally agree on something. The Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) is changing the lives of our children by positively influencing the way they learn. AMSTI is a state-funded hands-on training program that uses innovative ways to help teachers encourage learning and participation. The program began in 1999 by Steve Ricks, who serves as the director.

Recently, Gov. Robert Bentley visited Oak Mountain Middle School to witness more than 300 teachers participating in the two-week training program. The program began last Tuesday with the conjunction of AMSTI at the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Gov. Bentley made the trip in an effort to help educate citizens and legislators about the initiative and its impact. AMSTI has changed education and made lifelong-learners out of thousands of children. In Dallas County, schools have seen dramatic improvement due to AMSTI.

It is amazing that an initiative started in Alabama has achieved global impact. More than twenty-one countries have sent representatives to Alabama to learn about the program. AMSTI sets out a unique lesson plan for teachers that exceed state standards. However, many state schools are not currently able to participate in this accelerated program. The Alabama Department of Education provides AMSTI with only $28 million in funding annually. In order to reach more schools, teachers, and students more funding is needed. It will take $46 million to reach every state school. This will take time, yet for the first time legislators seem to be on the same page about AMSTI.

After the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act, many have lost hope for public education. The quality of public education has dwindled and parents are pulling students out of the classroom and placing them in private institutions. Democrats and Republicans agree that AMSTI has impacted the lives of thousands. Funding is desperately needed to maintain this influential program. It is almost ironic Alabama is home to the leading math and science initiative program, yet as a state, we are lacking in providing the best education for our students.

Alabama Democrats are going to continue to help make AMSTI a success. There is nothing more important than education, healthcare, and the economy of our generation. We are glad Gov. Bentley decided to stand behind AMSTI. We should continue to support the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative because it holds the key to the success of Alabama education.

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