MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Gov. Kay Ivey is wasting no time implementing new education policies in her second term.
In her inaugural address, Ivey said she wants to see the state’s reading and math scores ranked among the top 30 states by the end of her term. Currently, Alabama fourth graders are 39th in reading and 40th in math.
One of the orders creates a Commission on Teaching and Learning, made up of lawmakers and education leaders. They’re tasked with finding ways to improve elementary and secondary education, and recruit and retain teachers.
State Superintendent Eric Mackey is part of that commission.
“In talking with the Governor the last few days, I know that she’s very excited about making sure that we have enough teachers, and that those teachers are highly qualified when they enter the classroom,” Mackey said. “I certainly share that goal and look forward to working with her and the commission and making sure that happens with every community in this state.”
Another order establishes a pilot program to provide more ways for qualified people, like teachers’ aides for example, to get a teaching certificate.
A+ Education Partnership President Mark Dixon says the governor’s goals are just what the state needs.
“We like a bold vision for where our students need to be and where our schools need to support them,” Dixon said.
Dixon says focusing on teachers and continuing to fund initiatives like the Literacy Act and Numeracy Act will also help meet those goals.
“We need to make sure that our teachers are trained, that they have all the support they need. We also need to be creative about ways that we recruit them in the profession and then making sure that teachers are supported so that they stay in the classroom,” Dixon said.
Another order announces statewide participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It authorizes spending $4.1 million on the program, which will mail books to Alabamians every month from birth to age five. Parents can choose to opt out.
The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education in a statement commended Ivey’s executive actions. Secretary Barabara Cooper said:
“Governor Ivey’s commitment to giving every child under the age of five access to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is another example of her courageous action to equip parents with books for their children no matter their demographics or zip code. Parents who read and talk to their children at a young age become their child’s best, first teacher.”
The final order requires the state superintendent to update the governor on how some of the state’s education initiatives are doing, like the Numeracy and Literacy Act, and whether any future changes may be needed.