Survey online

The online survey is live through Oct. 10

The Alabama State Board of Education is looking for input from stakeholders that will guide the upcoming strategic planning process for public education within the state.

The Take 10 For Public Education survey will be live through Thursday, Oct. 10 and can be found at tinyurl.com/Take10AL.

Tracie West, state board member for District 2, said this is the first time all stakeholders have had an opportunity to influence a future strategic plan in this way.

"For the very first time in Alabama ... different stakeholders are being asked to respond — so, parents, elected officials, superintendents, teachers, retirees, clergy, the business community," she said. "This is the first time the state board has sought opinions and input from our citizens and the people that actually teach and work in our facilities, so it's a great opportunity."

The survey should take participants about 8 to 10 minutes, West said. People will be asked to declare how they are responding — as a parent, teacher, member of the business community, etc. — and will be asked a series of questions regarding various relevant topics.

Once the survey closes, data will be compiled and given to the state superintendent and the strategic planning team, which includes individuals from across the state, West said.

The strategic planning process is expected to start later this year.

"This is going to be a long-term ongoing process, but in the first 90 days, we should have fleshed out some really big topics that we can start to go to work on that we know people across the state want us to be working on," West said.

She said it is important to have participation from all communities in Alabama because they all have different needs.

"This is a way for us to incorporate their individual desires and needs," she said. "Some of our rural communities, they may be struggling with, say, broadband Internet access for their schools or maybe professional development they are struggling to have funding for, whereas Hoover or Mountain Brook or Madison County may have completely different needs and desires within their communities.

"I think the state board feels it's very important to hear from everyone, then pull all of that together."

West mentioned that one issue the strategic planning process will work to address, and which a task force has been formed to resolve, is the shortage of teachers for hire in the fields of math and science. Currently, Alabama is struggling to compete with other states to employ teachers entering the work force in those areas, West said.

"The average citizen in Alabama does not know that we are really struggling to hire math and science teachers in particular," she said. "It's probably one of the biggest threats to public education in Alabama, in my opinion, right now. We're not able to complete with our neighboring states right now in terms of salary and retirement. Some leaders argue that college graduates aren't really looking at retirement, and I have to say I reject that notion completely."

She added that Alabama is not the only state facing this problem, that part of the shortage could be that fewer people are wanting to enter the field of education because of the work load or stress, but West continued to come back to retirement and pay.

"One of the biggest pieces of that puzzle is that retirement," she said. "This is going to be a very important conversation that the state is going to have to have, and I just want to encourage people to read about it, talk about it, talk to their elected officials."

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