Governor’s Commission on Teaching and Learning meets for first time

Top educators hand-picked by Gov. Kay Ivey gathered in Montgomery for the first meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Teaching and Learning.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 7:43 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Top educators hand-picked by Gov. Kay Ivey gathered in Montgomery for the first meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Teaching and Learning. Ivey created the commission in an executive order. The commission is tasked with thinking of ways to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education in Alabama.

“We have teachers who are in the field who are not confident, who are not sure about what they’re doing to help students, so this commission can really help support them,” said Reggie White, the only teacher on the commission.

“In my opinion, this commission is tasked with helping solve the single most important issue facing our state. And as I look around this room I can’t help but be in awe of the amazing resource that your collective knowledge and experience brings,” said Ivey.

Alabama is short of nearly 600 teachers, mainly in special education, early education and elementary schools. State Superintendent Eric Mackey says part of the solution is a specific recruitment team and advertising the profession to high school and college students.

“Getting people from interested in being a teacher to being a teacher,” said Mackey

The Department of Early Childhood Education’s director, Barbara Cooper, also shared efforts they are taking to expand First Class Pre-K to counties with 20% of people living below the federal poverty level.

“They can’t just open up a classroom and put a new piece of furniture in,” said Cooper. “There are very specific items that have to be in there in order for us to reach that quality.”

The parent’s voices are also represented on the commission with the president of the Alabama Parent Teacher Association, Donna McCurry.

“The parents really are the boots on the ground at a school, helping out and volunteering, and they hear a lot from teachers,” said McCurry.

McCurry and White say they want to use their positions to offer a new perspective for those outside of the classroom.

“A lot of parents, I have found over my 20-something years with PTA, that lot of the very best volunteers at schools are usually then pulled in as substitute teachers,” said McCurry.

“I really think support is needed for the new teachers who are coming into the profession, and students who are in disadvantaged areas, they need a lot of support,” said White.

Members of the commission include the following:

  • Business Education Alliance president and former state Superintendent of Education Joe Morton (chair)
  • State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey
  • State Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-SD29
  • Rep. Alan Baker, R-HD66
  • Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-HD103
  • Montgomery City Schools Superintendent Melvin Brown
  • Holtville High School Principal Kyle Futral
  • Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dicky Barlow
  • Booker T. Washington K-8 teacher Reggie White
  • Alabama Parent Teacher Association President Donna McCurry
  • Alabaster City Schools school board member Derek Henderson
  • Retired Mississippi State Superintendent Carey Wright
  • Co-founder and CEO of Whiteboard Advisors Ben Wallerstein

The commission must submit a final recommendation by Dec. 1.

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