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How We Learn Together - Relates to goals on education curriculum and instruction; facilities; financing public services; and mentoring and training.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
    Our Goal: A region that emphasizes the importance of quality education, offers programs and opportunities for students of all ages and abilities, provides sufficient financial support, sets the highest curriculum standards and hires teachers and administrators who are trained, motivated and qualified in their subject. Its safe neighborhood schools have earned the trust and support of the community and teachers’ and students’ performance achievement is celebrated.

    Recommended Strategy: Work with boards of education to develop quality standards for recruitment, selection and evaluation of teachers and administrators by forming a panel that is knowledgeable about research-based criteria in order to develop standards for teachers and administrators to receive continuing professional development and education, including summer programs and mentoring, and to provide them with opportunities to observe and learn from the best practices throughout the country.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Identify and convene a task force, to include local education agencies, teachers, representatives from teacher education colleges and universities, professional teacher development experts and other relevant agencies to develop a plan for the implementation of a comprehensive induction program that will implement the strategy.

  2. Financing Public Services
    Our Goal: A region committed to creating a stable, equitable local and state tax structure, which will raise per pupil expenditures for K-12 public schools to the national average and insure excellence in teaching and learning, and will provide for quality public services. This will be done by providing an appropriate tax structure, such as, but not limited to raising property taxes and decreasing sales taxes.

    Recommended Strategy: Convene state and county government representatives to work together to develop new sources or improve existing sources of funding for education and all public services by reforming taxes. Consider raising property taxes on the local levels if unable to win the state effort. Note: Grocery tax cannot be removed currently at the county level. The Alabama Legislature is the only governmental body that can remove it at this time.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Create a task force to research the costs and benefits of different options, to conduct polling/focus groups to see what “sells” and to revise the strategy, to take the message to the people in small group settings, to bring public officials from both political parties on board strategically in a bipartisan way and to conduct a public information campaign through the media.

    Return Expected to Our Region: Better quality of life through better public education, an educated work force to bring higher paying jobs; lower crime rates; better healthcare, benefiting everyone in the five-county region.

    Other Strategies to Accomplish Our Goal:

    • Develop a stable source of funding for youth education and activities

    • Establish equitable and adequate funding of education by government, business and citizens of the region to develop a prepared work force

    • Initiate a regional organization of elected officials to communicate and to work together to improve the quality of life

    • Conduct a public information campaign through the media to clarify the inequities in the current tax system

    • Establish a statewide property tax for education, over and above the Education Trust Fund funding

    • Request that boards of education in the region petition their county commissioners to hold a referendum asking citizens to vote for an increase in property tax for schools

    • Convene state and county government representatives to work together and develop new or improve existing sources of funding for education.

  3. Facilities
    Our Goal: A region that creates neighborhood schools, improves and modernizes existing schools and provides a safe and secure learning environment

    Recommended Strategy: Build long-range community and government commitment to provide adequate and responsible funding.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Develop specific steps for recruitment of team members who are capable of communicating the need; and develop the specific steps for how they will “sell” the need for additional funding to the public.

    Return Expected for Our Region: Increased funding for educational facilities will allow us to bring facilities up to acceptable standards and will enhance the learning environment, benefiting students and staff, and then the entire community.

    Other Strategies to Accomplish Our Goal:

    • Develop a master plan for school facilities based on a complete assessment of existing facilities and population trends, ensuring that school sites are adequate in size and easily accessible

    • Enhance the learning environment and demonstrate community pride and support for schools through renovation of existing schools and construction of new schools where required

  4. Mentoring and Tutoring
    Our Goal: A region that encourages and provides consistent, dynamic, relevant and accountable mentoring and tutoring programs (with businesses in partnerships with schools) for an optimum lifelong learning and employment environment for all citizens.

    Recommended Strategy: Using Montgomery’s Partners in Education program as an example to create a task force made up of a diverse coalition from each area of government as well as university and community leaders, evaluate effective local programs in order to duplicate successful model programs throughout the region.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Identify participants for the task force and have them meet with all “service providers” (i.e. Partners In Education, School to Career, etc.) in order to share concrete programs, opportunities and needs.

    Return Expected for Our Region: It will help in recruiting trained and committed mentors and tutors; a better prepared work force will aid in recruiting business to the region, which will have more support for education through increased tax revenues and it will increase the level of trust and cooperation among the five counties, benefiting the entire region, especially students.

    Other Strategies to Implement Our Goal:

    • Develop an effective plan of implementation by making use of existing programs (i.e. faith-based organizations and retirement organizations), encouraging participation through chambers of commerce or other local business organizations, and encouraging businesses to allow their employees to participate by volunteering five hours per month or encouraging involvement in whatever ways their specific community needs.

    • Recruit and train volunteer tutors and mentors and provide structure and support for community-based tutoring and mentoring programs through Partners in Education programs.

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