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State Superintendent talks plan to improve graduation rates

 

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice spoke in Selma on Tuesday about “Plan 2020.”--Sarah Robinson

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice spoke in Selma on Tuesday about “Plan 2020.”–Sarah Robinson

 

The Alabama Department of Education has a vision for a better tomorrow, and representatives stopped by Tuesday to share that message.

Guests were all ears as State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice discussed the details of Plan 2020 at Selma High School. The stop was part of the department’s Future of Public Education Tour.

During his presentation, Bice mentioned changes the department is willing to make or has made to help Alabama public schools collectively reach a graduation rate of 90 percent or higher by 2020.

“I felt honored that he chose a Selma City School to come to talk to citizens in this area but more specially Selma High School,” said Selma High School principal Aubrey Larkin Jr. “I’m very encouraged by the things that he said.”

Bice said he visits a random public school each week throughout the 2014-2015 school year to help discover new methods that can benefit the entire Alabama public school system. Through research and observations, Bice learned it’s never too early to expose students to advanced technology.

He said instructors need to be more willing to try new ideas. Bice gave the example of a school that has eliminated desks and brought in tables to lead to collaborative thinking.

Bice said Plan 2020 ultimately prepares the students to become college-and-career ready.

“We have these tools now to understand kids individually,” Bice said. “We’ve got to stop putting them through in batches based on their birthdays and start doing these innovative sorts of things.”

Bice concluded the presentation by letting the public know the role it plays in Plan 2020.

“We need you to hold us accountable,” Bice said to a crowd of more than 100. “We  need to go back out, every community, and say, ‘Guys, we have an opportunity to do things for kids we’ve never had the opportunity to do before, but we as adults have to change to make this happen. Our kids deserve it. We need to demand it on our behalf.’”

After the presentation, Bice answered questions submitted by the audience members. The innovative methods that Bice mentioned appealed to Larkin, who describes himself as an out-of-the-box thinker.

“For him to come to this place at a time such as this and make those statements as the state superintendent, he’s opened up a lot of doors,” Larkin said. “Right now, it’s in our hands. If we don’t take that opportunity and run with it, it’s nobody fault but ours.”