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Don’t Slow Our Momentum

By Kyle Kallhoff
Superintendent, Chickasaw City School System

When the city fathers of Chickasaw decided to form their own school system they knew it would be a struggle.  But they had no idea that the Alabama legislature would be one of their chief roadblocks.

We are in our second year of existence with 880 students, 92 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Our students thank us daily for the work we do and the barriers we break to prepare them to be successful adults. This includes teaching the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, which will better prepare them to be marketable when entering careers or colleges.

For more information about our students, watch this video.

Like many systems in Alabama, we are financially strapped. We carefully consider every financial decision and obligation we make.  If any system in the state can make a penny squeal when it is pinched, it is Chickasaw.

Since we started in June of 2012 we have allocated financial and human resources to preparing our teachers to teach the more rigorous college and career standards adopted by the state board of education.  All monies spent and all professional development of faculty has been done with this in mind.

First it was the revised Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, which will eventually drain millions of dollars from the Education Trust Fund.  Now the legislature wants to jerk the rug out from under us.  They want to waste all the dollars and time and effort we’ve invested.  They want to change the rules of the game halfway through the second quarter.

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They want to repeal the Alabama College and Career Ready standards and have us go back to teaching our kids like we did in 1999.  Instead of preparing our students for a global economy, they want to put up a fence around Alabama and act like none of the rest of the world exists.

Why do they want to repeal our standards?  Because they are listening to misinformed, persuasive political voices instead of professional educators.  It is a sad commentary when a group of elected officials are willing to swap the future of our children for a handful of votes.  This is leadership?  This is statesmanship?

Our Chickasaw students do their homework.  The members of the legislature should do the same thing.

They should research the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results and see where Alabama students rank in reading and math versus the other 49 states. It is clear that our students need rigorous standards and we need to stop threatening to slow down the momentum Alabama’s school systems are making. As a leader of a small system in south Alabama, I trust the research-based guidance and direction for our students that is being provided by Alabama’s Board of Education and Dr. Tommy Bice, our state superintendent.

I represent over 100 employees who are committed to teaching Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards, who are committed to teaching problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking. The employees of the City of Chickasaw Board of Education are committed to breaking barriers and putting the students we serve in positions to be successful adults. Don’t slow our momentum.

There are 15 senators who are sponsors of SB380, the bill to roll back the clock in Alabama.  Not a single one has called to find out how this legislation will impact our system and our students.

I will be glad to talk to any legislator about this matter.  You can reach me at 251-380-8114.  Or I will call an assembly of all our faculty and students so that any member of the state senate or house can explain how rolling back our standards will be good for them.

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