Guest opinion: We have allowed petty political pursuits to define and demean our Alabama Education System

This is an guest opinion column

I experienced an unnecessarily difficult re-election race because I faced the accusations at every presentation that “Alabama is dead last in Education.” Alabama Education was denigrated in public forums, with anecdotal press statements and by politicians who were seeking office. We all know those are false assertions.

The overwhelming victory Governor Ivey achieved and the re-election of Tracie West and myself shows we are providing leadership and have a quality student and teacher population. We have allowed petty political pursuits to define and demean our Alabama Education System. One National exam has been repeatedly and inappropriately used as evidence of our level of achievement and performance.

As colleagues leading Alabama Education, with funding provided by our legislators and with our partnership with other associations like AASB, CLAS, SSA and AEA, we can assert the quality of Education in Alabama.

We live in a State with fantastic growth in job opportunities and quality of life. We do have some areas we need to improve but we are certainly not 52nd in Education. I propose we move forward with pride and determination to Make Alabama Great Again in the opinions of our parents, students, the public, and the press.

We must correct our public persona so it reflects reality. Recent tragic events present an opportunity to increase the security in our schools. Our Career Technology programs are doing well. Graduation rates have increased. We administer the ACT to all students and they perform well.

I, for one, have had enough of being on the defensive. Our Educational Programs are being defined by those who don’t see our true achievements. I attend graduations and visit with our students and know we have successfully improved Education in Alabama.

After defending education in Alabama and having seen Governor Ivey prevail over repeated and exaggerated assertions by those who see one data point as a means to appeal to voters, I am ready to go on the offense. We are a good State School System but we must focus our programs and meetings to assure everyone knows we are achieving.

Alabama Education has endured COVID and masking. We have employed innovative techniques to educate our students. The State Board of Education has embraced parental participation and sought families as partners in our educational processes. We must tell our own story and not allow others to define our circumstances.

Dr. Wayne Reynolds is Pro Tempore State Board of Education and District 8 representative on the board