The U.S. Secretary of Education recently recognized Alabama for having one of the nation’s steepest increases in high school graduation rates. Birmingham City Schools’ rate increased even more – up roughly 23 percent in the last four years. The latest data reported to the state education department puts the system’s rate at 79 percent — just below the national average. Alabama reporter Dan Carsen sits down with James Hanks, an 18-year-old who just graduated through Birmingham Schools’ Dropout Recovery Program.
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The number of Latinos in America’s schools is rising faster than any other group’s. And their share of the school population is rising fastest in the South. Many don’t speak English as their first language, making them “language-minorities.” And the question of how best to educate them is becoming crucial in places with little bilingual history – places like Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. So WBHM and the Southern Education Desk are kicking off a four-part series on language-minority education in the South. In Part One, we cross the border (into Georgia) to see an innovative school and a counterintuitive concept in action.
In the middle of urban Birmingham, there’s a farm. Jones Valley Teaching Farm is an education center offering students and families gardening, nutrition courses, fresh food, and much more. With Earth Day and Arbor Day coming up, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen sat down with its Executive Director, Grant Brigham. Dan starts off by asking Brigham if he sees the farm playing a part in Birmingham’s long-term sustainability.
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.
Eric Snowden. NSA code-cracking. Chinese government hackers. It’s hard to avoid cybersecurity issues in the news. And many experts think the United States is simply not up to the threats. That’s mainly because there aren’t enough good guys with the skills to do battle in this expanding arena. But there’s a unique partnership in an Alabama school district that’s working to change the scenario. Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen has more.
There’s been a revolution in American K-12 education: the “Common Core State Standards.” Released in 2010, they’re math and language arts standards meant to raise rigor and establish consistency across the nation. They’ve been adopted in 45 states. But in the first of a three-part series, Alabama reporter Dan Carsen tells us that even in those places, all is not quiet on the Common Core front.
It’s no secret that Birmingham’s public schools are struggling. But a middle school with more than 90 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch is consistently defying expectations on the most objective measure we have: standardized tests. How? What’s going on here? A reporter who went to and taught in a similar school system goes to the source and finds out.