Commitment to schools improves

Published 9:01 pm Monday, May 8, 2006

By Staff
State Rep. Seth Hammett almost ran into a brief bit of trouble with his audience last week.
Speaking to Brewton's adult and youth leadership classes at their graduation Thursday, the speaker of the house said one of the accomplishments of the Legislature this year was extending the school day to 180 days from 175.
When he opened the floor for questions later, the audience - half made up of high school students - made for a tough crowd for a moment.
The students wanted to know how five extra days would really help their education.
It's a good question. Would just five days really improve schools that much?
But as Hammett pointed out, that's not just five days in one year - it's five days in every year over the course of their entire education, an extra two months over their school careers.
It's a simple lesson but one Alabama has had a hard time learning over the years. Quality and quantity often go hand in hand. Our teachers and administrators and students work harder than anyone, but they also need resources to succeed.
We are lucky in Brewton and Escambia County to have good schools, but we also have good community support and benefactors like local trusts and local businesses. And Escambia County Schools were lucky in 2003 to have the county vote in a tax millage increase to help schools.
Education is improving in our state. Alabama was one of the first states to implement a reading initiative that is revolutionizing the way students learn one of their most basic skills.
Hammett said the Legislature passed new money this past session to bolster the Alabama Reading Initiative and to create math and science initiatives.
The Legislature also wisely added to its rainy day fund for education, which can help stave off the infamous proration that has hurt school districts in the past by cutting their funding from normal levels.
But Alabama's increasing strength in education isn't limited to K-12 schools, Hammett said. The Alabama Industrial Development Training program is recognized as one of the best of its kind by economic development publications, he said, and that's helping the state land new industries.
What Alabama has been learning is that commitment education - at all levels - is key to our development as a state, and we have to look farther beyond our borders than ever to continue to improve.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 251-867-4876, ext. 122, or by e-mail at

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