Governor Pulls Rabbit Out Of Hat, But No One In Education Knows What He Is Talking About

The governor spent part of his State of the State speech talking about what he calls a “Pre K-3 initative.”  The only problem, no one in education or on the state board of education knows what he is talking about.

After the speech, I asked a number of school superintendents and state board members to tell me what is going on.  None of them could.  They were as in the dark as I am.  Here’s what the governor said:

Why then would we just stop with 4 year olds? Why don’t we look beyond the undeniable success of what we can do with our four-year-olds and expand on that success where it’s most needed?

Why then when Alabama third graders fall woefully far behind in reading scores, when as our Superintendent said, we have a “math crisis” in Alabama, would we not want to extend the gains we are making with the four year olds up to elementary school? 

The Alabama Pre K through third grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning will build upon the student success and achievement gap closure by expanding access to the Pre K model and will pull the most successful parts of K-3 initiatives to give students up to third grade the chance for success using the Pre K model. Jeana Ross Secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education and State Superintendent Michael Sentance are joining forces and working side by side to align and integrate the most critical and most successful components of the Pre K model with how we educate those in Kindergarten up to the Third Grade. We know based on the success of Pre-K the result will be higher achievement, but most importantly children who can read, who can compete and who have a strong foundation.” 

Apparently Governor Bentley thinks pre-K teachers are better than K-12 teachers.  If that is the case, then why stop at the third grade, why not a Pre K-12 initative?

The governor says that state superintendent Mike Sentance is working with Jeana Ross in the Department of Early Childhood Education.  So why hasn’t he told members of the state school board what he is doing?  After all, he works for them–not the governor.

Several years ago I was state chair of the HIPPY advisory Board (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters) a pre-K program.  Our state funding was handled by the state department of education.  However, since they are not involved in early childhood education, they felt this program would be better served if shifted to the then Department of Children’s Affairs.  It made sense to me.

But now the governor has apparently decided to blur the lines of authority and expertise again.  And as so often happens, once again the people most impacted, our K-12 schools, are the last folks to know.

It is hardly any wonder that in this survey, only 1.5 percent of respondents approve of what Governor Bentley does.

 

One Response to Governor Pulls Rabbit Out Of Hat, But No One In Education Knows What He Is Talking About

  1. What you describe in this article is likely attributed to communication and awareness rather than substance. Nationally, P – 3rd grade has garnered the positive attention of many state education systems and leaders, and is largely linked to successful Campaign for Third Grade Reading proficiency efforts. Early education has become a bipartisan/nonpartisan effort where the preponderance of research has demonstrated gains when quality is sustained in subsequent grades. In fact, leaders in the state and others would be well-advised to read a recent report issued by the Society for Research in Child Development ( http://www.srcd.org/sites/default/files/documents/spr_30_2_final.pdf). Politics aside, the best interests of Mississippi children should be a shared value everyone can get behind.