Birmingham, Ala.– The Alabama State Department of Education’s intervention team has left Birmingham City Schools. ALSDE staff are approving local board agendas and monitoring finances from Montgomery. A year and a half after the state first took the reins, the local board is quietly going about its business. As 2014 approaches, [...]
In any big institution, good things are usually happening even when problems get the attention. This week we’re airing and publishing a three-part “status update” on Birmingham City Schools, from the state takeover to today. Yesterday, Part One explored some of the reasons why the state intervened and the district could lose accreditation. Today in Part Two, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen talks with teachers, parents, and students to get a different view — a view from the ground level.
The Alabama State Department of Education’s intervention team is now monitoring Birmingham City Schools from afar, a year and a half after it first took control of the city school system. The district had been facing major challenges, including a board so dysfunctional it made national news. But that’s only part of the picture. In this first of a three-part series, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen delves into the complex and often painful situation leading to state intervention.
There’s been a victory of sorts for parents whose children ride school buses in Hoover, Alabama. In July, the school board got national attention and angered many residents by voting to scrap the sprawling district’s busing program starting next school year. But after intense community pressure and input from the Justice Department, the board unanimously reversed itself last week. Shortly after, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with Trisha Powell Crain, a Hoover parent and longtime education policy writer. Though she has some misgivings, she calls the school-board reversal a good example of what persistent community organizing can accomplish.
As Barack Obama campaigned his way to the presidency, self-described lily-white writer Tanner Colby began pondering — and then tenaciously researching — exactly why he and other white people didn’t have black friends. The reasons are complex, ranging from school policy to real estate practices to media image-making to church politics. But Colby dives right in from the springboard of his own life, recognizing his ignorance the whole way. The result: “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America.” Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with the author not long after he appeared on MSNBC to discuss America’s persistent racial separation.
Most people know Birmingham, Alabama was a Civil Rights Movement battleground. But how is that complicated history taught in schools today? And are there differences between white and black districts? The Southern Education Desk’s Dan Carsen went to class in urban Birmingham and a nearby suburb — one of the wealthiest in the nation — to find out.
Demand for pre-K programming is growing across the South, but state-level fiscal challenges have limited the number of kids pre-K can serve. Southern Education Foundation President and CEO Kent McGuire examines the challenges pre-K funding faces across the nation, but especially in the deep South.
Without court-ordered desegregation, many school districts have struggled to find strategies to maintain racial balance and diversity. Many parents now choose the neighborhood school for their children rather than sending them long distances away, even for a program that might be considered high quality—like magnet schools. Districts are finding that many parents of all ethnic groups no longer view racial balance as a top priority in educating their children. In Nashville, public school officials are finding it a challenge to balance school improvement plans with a desire for racial diversity.