Praise for schools

Praise is always welcome, as was that coming to the Alabama public school system from a professor of education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, quoted last month in The Birmingham News.

W. Steven Barnett, an economist and director of the National Institute for Early Education, commended this state for selecting 27 more classrooms to become First Class pre-K sites, each to receive $45,000 to facilitate its program.

Barnett quoted this from the National Institute’s publication at Rutgers, “Alabama is one of only two states to meet all 10 of the yearbook’s benchmarks for quality standards. And Alabama is significantly increasing the number of 4- year-olds served.”

(Just this one caveat: Surely the scientists and professional educators can’t be wrong, but as one who started school at 4, this writer never did catch up. School was always difficult, and I’ve always felt I would know so much more now had I not been forever behind then. That was eons ago, and there’s no comparison between schools then and now, but 4 seems so young for regimenting and scheduling.)

Barnett goes on to write, “Preschool education programs of the quality Alabama delivers have produced remarkable improvements in children’s lives, reducing the numbers of children who must repeat grades, need special education, and end up in jail, while raising test scores and producing more high school graduates.”

Linda Tilly, executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s children, also writing in The News,
noted Alabama Reading Initiative is recognized as one of the nation’s top reading programs, which resulted in our leading the nation in gains in fourthgrade reading two years ago.

Alabama’s schools haven’t had a great many such stand-outs, and it’s encouraging to take note again of these.