Education Policy Institute brief explores charter

With highly contested bills in the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate over the past few weeks, charter schools are the hot topic in Montgomery, as well as school systems across the state of Alabama. But the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Institute is keeping Tuscaloosa informed of the conversation with the release of an analytical brief on the subject. Wayne Urban, professor of higher education administration and associate director of the EPI, authored the brief, which was released in February and is titled “Charter Schools: An Analysis of the Issues.” According to the analysis, Alabama is one of only nine states, along with Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, which does not have charter school laws. “Charter schools are often called public schools of choice,” Urban said.

Education needs a human element

A few weeks ago, 60 Minutes aired a feature on a nonprofit organization called Khan Academy. Its mission statement is bold: “A free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” As a website, contains a free supply of over 3,000 short video tutorials on any classroom topic imaginable. The tutorials aren’t simple recordings of a given lecture or a teacher next to a whiteboard.

Alabama ranks low in opportunity measures

The state of Alabama ranked 47th in a scale measuring the economic mobility afforded to citizens of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Opportunity Index released by Opportunity Nation and the Human Development Project. The Index pulls information from sources such as the U.S.

School of Social Work debuts lecture series

Ethel Hall, vice president emerita of the Alabama State Board of Education and former doctorate student at the University of Alabama, spoke at the School of Social Work for the inaugural Women’s History Month Lecture on Monday. This year was the first year the School of Social Work has held this event, and the number of attendants was larger than anticipated. “We were delighted with the number of people who came,” said Lucinda Lee Roff, professor emerita and interim dean at the School of Social Work.

State House passes education budget

For the past few months, state lawmakers in charge of setting and passing the education budget have warned educators that some 3,000 teachers may need to be let go because of the slowing economy. However, a recession-year education budget designed to protect a majority of teacher jobs in Alabama took its first step Tuesday by being passed in the state House of Representatives by way of a 104-0 vote. The $5.48 billion education budget, which now heads to the state Senate for debate, is a $169.6 million increase from this year’s budget, but it does not give teachers any money to buy classroom supplies such as paper and pencils.