Dr. Barbara Cooper, secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, has resigned under pressure from Gov. Kay Ivey for the inclusion of a “woke” pre-K educator resource book in the state’s curriculum.
Ivey’s office said it was brought to Ivey’s attention last week that the book included content “that is simply not in line with what the Ivey Administration or the people of Alabama stand for or believe.”
Ivey’s office did not name the book in her initial release, but a spokesperson for the governor’s office told APR the book in question is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th Edition. The book is designed as a resource for teachers, not students.
According to Ivey’s release, the book “invokes ideas for teachers that there are ‘larger systemic forces that perpetuate systems of White privilege’ or that ‘the United States is built on systemic and structural racism.’ Also included for 4-year-olds to learn is that ‘LGBTQIA+ need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth.’”
“Woke concepts that have zero to do with a proper education and that are divisive at the core have no place in Alabama classrooms at any age level, let alone with our youngest learners,” Ivey said in a statement Friday. “We want our children to be focused on the fundamentals, such as reading and math.
“Alabama’s First Class Pre-K is the best in the country, and those children are at too critical of a juncture in their educational journeys and development to get it wrong … I thank Dr. Cooper for her service, but I believe it is best we continue this historically strong program on its forward trajectory under new leadership.”
Ivey appointed Cooper to serve as the secretary of the department in July 2020.
“For nearly four decades, and in partnership with hundreds of thousands of families and educators, Developmentally Appropriate Practice has served as the foundation for high-quality early childhood education across all states and communities,” NAEYC said in a statement. “While not a curriculum, it is a responsive, educator-developed, educator-informed, and research-based resource that has been honed over multiple generations to support teachers in helping all children thrive and reach their full potential. Building on the good work that is happening in states and communities, NAEYC looks forward to continuing its partnership with families, educators, and policymakers to further our shared goals of offering joyful learning environments that see, support, and reflect all children and their families.”
Dr. Jan Hume will serve as the interim secretary of the ADECE while Ivey makes a decision on a permanent secretary to lead the department in the immediate future.