By THOMAS RAINS, VP of Policy and Operations, A+ Education Partnership
On the evening of March 5, Gov. Ivey stood in the Old House Chamber of the State Capitol and outlined her plan for the coming legislative session in her State of the State Address. Much of her address focused on issues like the gas tax and prisons, but education issues also played an important role.
Since taking office, Gov. Ivey and her staff have worked to implement her Strong Start. Strong Finish. education agenda. As she begins her first full term, we’re pleased that education continues to be an important focus of her administration.
Among the education items she mentioned in her speech, three in particular stood out to us at A+ as critical to building the education system Alabama students need to graduate prepared for college and career.
- Expansion of First Class Pre-k: Ivey proposed increasing funding for the state-funded, voluntary pre-k by $25 million. This would add 193 pre-k classrooms across the state and raise the percentage of four-year-olds covered to about 38%. This is an important step in the plan to expand First Class pre-k to the point that any parent who wants to enroll his or her child in high-quality, voluntary First Class pre-k has that opportunity. For more on this increase, visit the Alabama School Readiness Alliance website.
- Support for computer science education: According to Code.org, computing occupations are the top source of new wages in the United States. For the last two years, A+ College Ready has led the way training teachers in computer science across Alabama, and with the support of Gov. Ivey, Alabama is poised to put an emphasis on computer science education that will make us national leaders in that field. For more on the importance of computer science education, visit Code.org.
- Pay Raise for Teachers: Under the governor’s plan, pre-k, K-12 and community college teachers would get a 4% pay raise. Estimates are this would cost about $160 million in the Education Trust Fund budget. In a year when there is about $426 million in growth, a much-needed, big-ticket item like a pay raise makes a lot of sense. It’s important for Alabama to attract the best and the brightest to teach in our classrooms, and increased pay is certainly part of that equation. To read more on A+’s ideas for improving the teacher and leader pipeline in Alabama, check out our Oct. 2018 brief.
As the Legislature debates these and other education issues, we’ll be working to keep the discussion informed. Be sure to keep up with us during this legislative session here on our website, and also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @aplusala.