Business and education are intertwined

Published 9:51 pm Monday, August 19, 2013

Is the New Business Education Alliance good for Alabama Schools?

Last week, the Business Council of Alabama announced the creation of a new, non-profit education foundation: the Business Education Alliance. According to the BEA, their major goal is to work with businesses and educators to provide an education that readies students for the workforce.

Unfortunately, educating our children has become a partisan issue in the Alabama Legislature in the past few years. However, it’s time for elected officials to put aside their partisan ties to do what’s best for education in Alabama.

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It has become evident that education and business are intertwined and that each is necessary in order for Alabama to grow economically. That’s why the Alabama State Department of Education has created Plan 2020, a program supported by legislators and educators to make Alabama’s students college and career ready by the year 2020.

Dr. Tommy Bice, the state superintendent of education, has done a great job of leading elected officials to form education policy for the state: the Executive Board of the Department of Education.

Dr. Henry Mabry, the head of the Alabama Education Association, has done a great job of leading and representing the educators who spend every day with our children.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and the Republican supermajority in the Legislature have done a great job of catering to the needs and interests of the business community and the BCA. But their ability to create education policy is another matter.

So where do Dr. Joe Morton, a former state superintendent, and State Rep. Jay Love, the former chair of the House Ways and Means Education Committee, fit into the equation?

While the BEA has come out in support of some great education programs like the Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative, the Alabama Reading Initiative, ACCESS distance learning and advanced placement, they have also taken a contrary stance on several key issues that could be detrimental to Alabama’s public education such as charter schools and the Accountability Act.

The act is a false promise to Alabama citizens and abandons students in “failing” schools. Only a mere eight out of almost 1,500 schools in Alabama have agreed to accept students from the “failing” schools.

Because of the Accountability Act, over $50 million is being redirected from our public schools and into private school systems this year alone. The loss of that money is creating a tremendous impact on all of our schools, many of which need textbooks, basic supplies, and not to mention computers and technology for classrooms.

My second issue with the BEA is their support of charter schools. The track record of charter schools has been unsuccessful in other states. Overall, charter schools do not test better than public schools. Charter schools lease to the loss of thousands of educators which in turn, causes classroom overcrowding.

Education reform should include input from businesses and educators, but most importantly it should focus on what’s best for the children. Legislators and education organizations need to do what is right for the future of Alabama. Education is about preparing our children for a bright future, not about sacrificing our children to satisfy special interests or political parties.