By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Representative Jay Love (R-Montgomery) announced that he would be resigning effective August 1 to work on education policy in the private sector. However, at the time of his resignation, he did not share details about where he would be joining the payroll.
At the Business Council of Alabama Governmental Affairs Conference on Saturday, business leaders announced the creation of a “nonprofit education reform group” called the Business Education Alliance. The BEA would be lead by Love as Finance Chairman and Dr. Joseph Morton as Chairman and President.
The BEA website boasts Love’s credibility for the position, both as the chair of the House Ways and Means Education Fund and as a small business owner in Montgomery.
Morton was state superintendent for seven years before retiring in 2011. Under his leadership as state superintendent and deputy superintendent, he lead the development of Alabama’s Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).
The overall goal of the organization will be to unite the business and education communities so that Alabama’s public education system produces high-quality workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
BCA President Billy Canary said the BCA supports BEA’s mission. “We support the BEA’s desire to be both pro-business and pro-education because, in the end, both communities share a common goal – propelling Alabama into a position of national and international leadership in economic development and education excellence,” Canary said.
“If a student leaves school without being prepared for the high-paying, long-lasting jobs that Alabama is currently attracting, it hurts them, their families and the state’s future economic prospects,” Love said.
According to the organization’s website, BEA has several major legislative priorities to reach their overall goal.
First, BEA wants to improve and strengthen Alabama’s Pre-K program, called “First Class.” “BEA, working with the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, successfully secured increased funding for “First Class” during the 2013 legislative session, and we will continue promoting this highly successful program until it is available to every family that wishes to use it,” the website says.
Additionally, BEA wants to secure funding for “the four most successful, proven and innovative learning programs,” which include AMSTI, Alabama Reading Initiative, ACCESS Distance Learning and Advanced Placement. Providing career technology training in middle and high school is also a BEA priority.
The BEA website says that the organization “supports the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards adopted by the State School Board” and plans to “continue working to make sure these benchmarks are fully embraced, adopted and implemented in each of Alabama’s school systems.”
The BEA also has taken a strong stance on two very controversial issues in Alabama politics: charter schools and school choice.
The website says that the BEA believes that charter schools will help provide a “modernized public education system” as well as provide parents and students with choices in education.
The BEA also takes a strong stance on school choice, saying that, in the case of failing schools, “parents and students should be offered other options where success is more likely.”
Governor Bentley was also on hand to address the Business Council of Alabama’s conference, saying that BEA is exactly what Alabama needs.