State said lip service to education

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2002

Is Alabama really investing in the future of its children?

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Ed Richardson thinks not.

Thursday at the Alagasco Auditorium, Richardson outlined what he believes is the future that awaits Alabama’s children if more money is not used to prepare them.

His vision for the state is &uot;Reaching Every Alabama Child’s Hopes.&uot;

He outlined a plan intended to enhance the overall educational experience for all of Alabama’s children.

He said the field of biotechnology, which is expected to dominate the economy beginning around 2020, will require extensive knowledge in math, science and technology. Alabama children born this year must be offered an education today equivalent to what they need during their most productive work period in the years after 2030, he said.

Richardson said that while the city, county and state have made substantial progress in education in recent years, it’s not enough.

For Alabama’s children to compete in the industries that will dominate our society, we must invest now to provide every student with a solid foundation, Richardson said.

He said, economic development is the key, adding that Dallas County ranks 125th out of the 128 state school systems in tax revenues.

If Alabama made the same tax effort as its peer states &045;&045; South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi &045;&045; annual revenues could increase to $836 million as compared to Mississippi and up to $2 billion if the effort was similar to Kentucky, he said.

If Alabama were to collect the average taxes collected by its peer states, an additional $1.6 billion could be made available for public schools and government services each year.

Richardson said there currently is no plan for the future of Selma City, Dallas County or the state when it comes to the future of the state’s children. And without that plan, he added, Alabama’s children will not be able to compete.