MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dr. Eric Mackey is slated to become Alabama's newest state superintendent in May and he says he's "optimistic" about the future.
"I think what folks are looking for is consistency. That's what I said to the board. That's what I believe I bring to the table," Mackey said Thursday during a one-on-one interview.
This marks the fifth state superintendent, including those acting in an interim capacity, in just the last three years, but Mackey says he told the board during the interview process he hopes to stick around for the next 8 to 10 years. Those names include: Tommy Bice, Dr. Cleveland (interim), Michael Sentance, Ed Richardson (interim), and now Mackey.
Since 1995, there have only been four 'official' superintendents.
Mackey takes over an education system that has suffered from years of below-average test scores coupled with a system lacking in teachers and a challenge in dealing with the ongoing intervention into the Montgomery public school system.
"There are a lot of plates that are spinning," Mackey said. "The key is that all of them continue to spin and then one at a time we need to look at them and say, 'okay, do we need to continue to spin this plate?' And maybe we need to turn it around and do it a different way, but we are not going to drop any plates in the process."
The new superintendent says to keep all those plates spinning as he adjusts to the job will take a lot of work.
"Working 20 hours a day that's about what it takes and right now that's what I am doing and we just have to stay on top of it," he explained.
He added that dealing with the MPS intervention will be his greatest challenge but also wants to address the quality and quantity of teachers throughout the state in the longterm, especially improving numbers in rural areas.
Mackey said the state's overall poverty level has hurt its test scores in past years.
"Though poverty is not indicative of intelligence, it is indicative of opportunity," he stated.
He believes there's an opportunity gap that needs to be bridged and he hopes to bring successful programs to scale and incentivize teachers to work in rural areas.