A few days ago we took Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange to task for his plan to turn to charter schools to solve Montgomery’s education woes. In our opinion, he is ignoring deep-rooted issues and is hoping for a “quick fix” instead.
But earlier this past week, he came out forcefully for the Montgomery community to get involved with the public school system and to especially pay attention to the elections for county school board. Five of the seven seats are to be filled.
In this case, we believe he is on target.
Time after time we have stated that “education is everyone’s business.” This means not only politicians, but the faith-based community, the business community, non-profits, civic clubs, the chamber of commerce, etc. There is no better window to the soul of a community than its school system. What is more important than taking pride in how we are educating our young people? What is more important than developing a new crop of citizens to be the best they can be?
Mayor Strange also announced a website, EducateMGM.com to educate the public on this year’s election and to provide info to those who might be interested in seeking a school board seat.
However, I do wish the mayor and others would stop throwing out the red herring about how many students the Montgomery school system lost in the last year. Some would want us to believe Montgomery was alone in declining enrollment. This is hardly the case at all. In fact, the state lost 3,250 students from 2016-17 to 2017-18. There are 136 school systems in Alabama, 85 lost students.
The decline is especially apparent in central Alabama where Autauga, Elmore, Macon, Bullock, Crenshaw, Butler, Lowndes and Dallas counties and Selma all saw enrollment fall. The only systems in the region to gain over these 12 months were Pike and Troy city which gained 60 together.
Other notable declines happened in Jefferson, Lee, Madison and Mobile counties (which fell 1,328) as well as Birmingham and even Mountain Brook.
Hopefully the mayor will continue to encourage community support for our public schools. Hopefully he will lead by example by making a concerted effort to spend more time in schools observing students and talking to educators. Hopefully he will come to understand that too many of the challenges children face today that impact learning are outside the education environment.