CL4E Chairman Dr. William Bennett: Refocusing the Conversation in Alabama

In a recent opinion piece, Alabama State Board of Education Member Mary Scott Hunter, refocused the conversation on the results of the state’s new A-F grading system. While the initial evaluation of the state’s schools, districts, and the overall education system were surprising and disturbing, Mary Scott took this opportunity to call upon parents to examine where schools are struggling to produce solid results and how communities can foster a better learning environment for our children.

As a state education leader and mother, Mary Scott’s call to action for involvement is the right direction. A-F grading systems, and other statewide evaluation tools are not always the perfect method nor do they answer every question. But they can be an important tool to give local leaders more information and a good starting point when it comes to examining how they can improve outcomes in critical measures like academic achievement and growth, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism.

During my time as Secretary of Education in President Reagan’s Administration, we sought to find areas where parents, educators, and community members could take control at the state level and reform local education systems. Similarly, these report card results empower Alabamians with better information to really reshape their education systems and their evaluation methods.

I commend education champions like Mary Scott Hunter who are seizing the opportunity to use these results as a way to engage families and communities across the state. With this strong state and local leadership, I look forward to the improvements that will be reflected in Alabama’s report card in years to come.

William J. Bennett is the former Secretary of Education and currently serves as Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education.