During her first State of the State address nearly a year ago, Gov. Kay Ivey staked her ground on workforce development, job creation and education under her Strong Start, Strong Finish plan, which, if successful, will transform the state’s education and labor opportunities.
If Ivey succeeds, her legacy as one of the state’s most consequential governors will be secure.
Aiding her in this monumental undertaking is Enterprise native Nick Moore who heads The Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation (GOEWT) which is charged with implementing the Governor’s strategic workforce development plan.
Moore, a dedicated policy wonk, understands the intricacy of both the federal level programs and the state agencies that must execute Ivey’s strategy. He also recognizes that every individual who is willing to put in the effort deserves a shot at success.
“Success should not be based on the color of your skin, your zip code or who your parents are but on individual merit,” says Moore. “As someone from a humble background, I understand it took people looking out for me and shepherding me that allows me to be where I am today.”
Moore, a Harvard University graduate, has a passion for policy that he hopes will assist Gov. Ivey. “If I’ve had any success in my life I want to be able to say I helped Gov. Ivey to ensure that other young people don’t have that level of uncertainty that comes with relying on the luck for a meaningful life,” he says.
In a sprawling hour-long interview, Moore took APR through the intricacies of Ivey’s strategy for Strong Start, Strong Finish: The Education-to-Workforce Pipeline.
Since her announcing of Strong Start, Strong Finish, a detailed, strategic plan has emerged to harness business and education interests for a comprehensive push that begins at the earliest stages of education and results in an educated workforce prepared for 21st Century jobs.
“Three main federal programs that provide nearly a billion dollars to Alabama from Kindergarten through workforce training are funding the plan,” said Moore.
Three federal laws – the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) – provide federal support for state education and workforce activities.
ESSA provides funding for public education from kindergarten to 12th grade. Perkins provides states funding to improve both secondary and postsecondary careers and technical education (CTE) programs. WIOA funds the public workforce development system for youth and adults looking for meaningful employment.
“Aligning those three bills so you can have an education to workforce pipeline is key,” said Moore. “Forging a unified system for students to engage in the various educational and career opportunities is the goal.”
Governor Ivey’s education-to-workforce pipeline begins with the basic blocking and tackling of education, literacy and numeracy. To this end, Moore says that the state’s Pre-K program will be available to all families that want their children to participate.
“It is essential that by third grade every student is literate and numerate,” says Moore. “These are the basics.” Next is career exploration and discovery which takes place during grades four through eight. Then students are ready to take advantage of the 16 career clusters and 79 career pathways that the state has identified working with employers and other stakeholders.
“We are looking at labor needs to focus on demand and opportunity,” which Moore says is part of the overall strategy. The state currently offers around 4,000 credential programs. “Part of the plan is to work with students and employers to determine which are the most valuable to the individual student,” says Moore.
“We are not trying to pigeon-hole a child,” said Moore. “But to allow them to focus on areas of interest so that they have every chance to succeed.”
Some of the state’s premier businesses have already invested money and resources into improving education, and Ivey’s teams are working with business entities to further the efforts of The Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) which is comprised of business executives from some of the state’s most important industries and organizations.
The Council’s goal, as stated in its mission statement, “is to facilitate collaboration between government and industry to help Alabama develop a sustainable, top-notch workforce that is competitive on a global scale.”
The Alabama Community College System under the leadership of Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker is engaged in a long-term strategy, as well, to provide the skills needed to fill the employment opportunities being created by government-private sector partnerships.
Moore says Gov. Ivey’s plan also is working to address the challenges of special populations, which include veterans, those recovering from substance abuse and those exiting prison. Moore said it also is there to help out-of-school youth, those who have been structurally disadvantaged or underemployed.
“Our labor force participation is at 57.3 percent. To get the number up to the national average is to focus on these special populations,” says Moore. The national labor force participation is at 62. 9 percent.
Moore says reaching these individuals is challenging but a fundamental task that must be accomplished.
Moore is tasked with building a coalition among 22 state agencies from Medicaid, the Department of Youth Services, Veteran Affairs and others to reach out to those who can take advantage of the various programs offered.
“All of these agencies talking, understanding the resources to help the individual help themselves by using what is already available to get what they need to succeed is essential,” says Moore.
A program, begun under Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, is working to match skilled laborers with the employers that have jobs to offer and is currently underway.
A jobs portal, AlabamaWorks, is matching employers with job seekers. It also offers advice for students that are already interested in building a career.
AlabamaWorks, according to its website, “is a network of interconnected providers of workforce services, including all of the governmental, educational, and private sector components that train, prepare, and match job seekers with employers.”
“Broad outreach, integrating existing government agencies is vital,” says Moore.
Moore says Gov. Ivey and her team are committed to data-informed decisions which leads to data-driven policies.
Under Ivey’s direction, the days of merely throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks are over. With Ivey’s plan, there are structures in place to make informed choices based on real-world information.
“For Alabamians to have career opportunities, they must be prepared when the right job comes along,” said Ivey at her first State of the State. “My education initiative, Strong Start, Strong Finish, does just that. Under Strong Start, Strong Finish, we will coordinate our efforts and bring all stakeholders to the table in order to improve education all the way from Pre-K to the workforce.” Moore says he is ready to assist the Governor to make that a reality.
Governor issues call to action on mask wearing: “We are at war with an invisible enemy”
Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday issued a new call to action for all Alabamians to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Today we are at war with an invisible enemy.
Not that long ago, families across Alabama helped America turn the tide in World War II. Some joined the front lines in combat, while others led the fight on the home front.
Those sacrifices helped our nation win the war and go on to define the Greatest Generation. Now, we must answer today’s call. By comparison, our sacrifice is small.
But each of us can do our part. Mask up Alabama!
Democratic women condemn comments on Gov. Kay Ivey’s appearance
“These comments are disrespectful, inappropriate in every way, and represent a broader culture of casual sexism,” read a joint statement from four Democratic women.
A group of Democratic women on Wednesday issued a statement condemning comments made by a state school board member who was critical of Gov. Kay Ivey’s weight.
Wayne Reynolds, a Republican who represents portions of northwest Alabama on the board, wrote during a live stream event that Ivey, who is also a Republican, “is gaining weight.”
Afterward, in an interview with AL.com, Reynolds doubled — and then tripled — down on his comments as he critiqued Ivey’s choice of clothing.
“She looked heavy in that white suit,” Reynolds said of Ivey, who held a press conference on Wednesday to update the state’s “safer-at-home” order. “I don’t know what she weighs. I just made an observation.”
Later in the interview, Reynolds said the pantsuit Ivey wore was unflattering and that he had seen her wear other suits “that were more slimming on her.”
The backlash to Reynold’s comments was swift and bipartisan with women around the state rightfully taking issue.
“These comments are disrespectful, inappropriate in every way, and represent a broader culture of casual sexism,” read a joint statement from four Democratic women. “Women all over Alabama know what it is like to be subjected to unfair criticism on the basis of their appearance or weight.
“We need to cultivate an environment where individuals are judged on the basis of their skill and proficiency. Alabama elected officials should be discussing policy, not the physical appearance of policymakers. Anything less is a disservice to Alabamians. We are disturbed by Mr. Reynold’s remarks, and we hope other elected officials and candidates will likewise condemn his comments. Mr. Reynolds was wrong and we deserve better.”
The statement was signed by Amy Wasyluka, president of Alabama Democratic Women, Phyliss Harvey Hall, a District 2 congressional candidate, Dr. Adia Winfrey, a District 3 congressional candidate and Laura Casey, a candidate for president of the Alabama Public Service Commission.
Nine people protesting for Medicaid expansion arrested outside Alabama Capitol
Among those arrested was former State Sen. Hank Sanders.
Nine people were arrested during a protest in front of the Alabama Capitol on Tuesday, which for some was the second time they’d been arrested this month while trying to bring attention to expanding Medicaid in the state and to the need for racial reconciliation.
As members of Alabama Black Lives Matter and Alabama SaveOurSelves held a demonstration Tuesday, which was live-streamed on former State Sen. Hank Sanders’ Facebook page, some began attempting to spray paint the words “Good Trouble,” a reference to the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis and his civil rights work, and “Expand Medicaid” on the street in front of the Capitol and were arrested.
Still, others began to try and spray paint onto the street and were also arrested, as can be seen in the video.
Among those arrested was Sanders, who could be seen in the video being handcuffed and loaded into a Montgomery Police Department vehicle, and his wife, 75-year-old Faya Rose Toure, an attorney, civil rights activist and former municipal judge.
The groups had planned Tuesday’s demonstration to bring attention to their push to expand Medicaid and to the arrest of five members after a demonstration there on July 16, in which members tried to use yellow spray paint to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” and “Expand Medicaid” on the street. The five turned themselves into police on July 20.
Montgomery Police Department public information officer Capt. Saba Coleman in a press release Tuesday evening said that those detained had not yet been charged. Montgomery Police declined to identify those persons who were detained.
“On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at about 12 noon, MPD responded to the area of the Capitol in reference to protesters painting the street in front of the Capitol steps. Upon arrival, MPD witnessed the protesters painting the street. At which time, MPD notified the City of Montgomery’s Traffic Engineering Department regarding the painting of the street,” Coleman said in the statement. “The paint was deemed noncompliant because organizers failed to request and obtain proper permitting and prior approval, which resulted in a crew being dispatched to the area. Protesters involved in the offense were subsequently detained; however, they were released with charges pending. There’s no additional information available for release.”
Faya Toure, Sanders’ wife, attorney, civil rights activist and former municipal judge, speaking to APR on Tuesday morning before the demonstration said she planned to once again work to bring attention to the need to expand Medicaid in Alabama in order to save thousands of lives a year and that she’s also addressed the arrests earlier in the month, of which she was one.
Sanders told APR on Monday that he was “mad as hell” over the arrests which included strip searches for the women but not for the men.
In an open letter to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Toure wrote of her experience being strip-searched at the police station.
“Some say I should have resisted, but I did not,” Toure starts the letter of, then describes the act of having to strip for officers. “Within minutes the ordeal that changed my soul was over.”
In a statement, ACLU of Alabama noted that the latest arrests came “just days after a memorial service honoring Representative John Lewis was held on the same steps.”
“Once again, we see Alabama police officers using the power of the government to unnecessarily seize and detain people who are exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment right to assemble and protest,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of ACLU of Alabama in a statement. “While the Constitution does not explicitly protect people from legal repercussions when protesting crosses into civil disobedience, we paid tribute mere days ago to the life and legacy of Representative John Lewis, a man dedicated to peaceful civil disobedience.”
“His phrase ‘good trouble’ was called that precisely because protesting unjust laws means breaking those laws. Nevertheless, we have seen time and again that change does not happen without protesters who are willing to accept these consequences in order to upend the status quo and those who uphold it,” Marshall continued. “We stand with these freedom fighters–in Montgomery, Hoover, and across the state of Alabama–who are continuing to fight for a more just and equitable world where every social problem is not addressed with handcuffs.”
Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis has died
“Our country has lost one of its most beloved Civil Rights leaders,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.
Alabama native turned Civil Rights Movement leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis has died.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Selma, mourned the passing of her friend, colleague and mentor.
“My heart breaks for the passing of my dear friend and mentor Congressman John Lewis, but my spirit soars for an angel walked among us and we were all touched by his greatness. He forever changed Selma and this nation,” Sewell said. “May we finish his life’s work and restore the Voting Rights Act.”
“Congressman John Lewis was a beacon of light, hope and inspiration throughout his life,” Sewell continued. ”To be in his presence was to experience love, whole-hearted and without exception. Though he was so often met with hatred, violence and racial terrorism, it never permeated his being. He remained until his passing a faithful servant-leader, whose righteousness, kindness and vision for a more equitable future inspired all who were blessed to know him. I am honored to have been able to call him a mentor and colleague and, above all, a friend.”
Lewis grew up on a farm outside of Troy, where his family were sharecroppers. At 21, he became a Freedom Rider. At 23, he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. He was a close colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement. King affectionately referred to him as “the boy from Troy.”
Lewis and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Hosea Williams organized the first Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. Then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace ordered the then all-white Alabama State Troopers to stop Lewis and about 600 marchers. On March 7, 1965, the State Troopers, local law enforcement and hundreds of white citizen volunteers attacked Lewis and the other voting rights marchers when they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Lewis was among the many marchers beaten that day. The event is remembered as “Bloody Sunday.”
“On Bloody Sunday in 1965, John was confronted by Alabama state troopers and their dogs, but he was determined to fight for equality and justice, putting his own life on the line in the service of others and a vision for a brighter future,” Sewell said. “So many times did John cross bridges, insisting that our nation live up to the promises enshrined in our constitution. As he always said, he gave a little blood on Selma bridge, but he also bridged the gaps that so often divide our political parties, working every day for a more just America.”
“John believed firmly that the best days of our nation lie ahead of us,” Sewell concluded. “It is his unwavering optimism that I will continue to call upon in moments of challenge and hardship. While John has left this earth, his legacy fighting for equality and justice lives on. I hope that our nation – and our leaders – will unite behind the cause most dear to John: voting rights. We must restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full strength so that every American – regardless of color – is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box. John, the ‘boy from Troy,’ was the conscience of the Congress. He will be dearly missed.”
“John Lewis was an American treasure,” said Martin Luther King III in a statement. “He gave a voice to the voiceless, and he reminded each of us that the most powerful nonviolent tool is the vote. Our hearts feel empty without our friend, but we find comfort knowing that he is free at last.”
“Our country has lost one of its most beloved Civil Rights leaders,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. “I join my fellow Alabamians & the nation in mourning the death of Rep. John Lewis. He dedicated his life to serving his community & advocating for others. We’ll forever remember his heroism & his enduring legacy.”
Lewis announced that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December.
He was absent at this year’s annual remembrance of Bloody Sunday in Selma on March 1. The annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama had been led by Lewis every year until this one.
“Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way,” former President Barack Obama wrote. “John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.”
Lewis was age 80. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lilian Miles Lewis, who died in 2012 after a long illness.