Two Years of Governor Ivey’s ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ Education Initiative: Groundwork Laid, Implementing Policy
MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey on Friday reported that two years after unveiling her ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ education initiative, the groundwork has been laid, and now the focus is on implementing policy. Earlier this week, the governor hosted a ceremonial bill signing which included four pieces of legislation from the 2019 Regular Session, aligning with the key areas of ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish.’
“For too long, our state has not seen the education results we want, and that should not be the case. Over the last two years, Alabama rallied behind ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ so that instead of being complacent, our state could take the lead in education,” Governor Ivey said. “I am certainly proud of the groundwork that we have laid and look forward to our educators, students and workforce reaping the benefits of these labors.”
Since taking office, Governor Ivey quickly became known as a governor focused on education. Two years ago, today, Alabamians knew that would be the case when she made improving the state’s education system her first official policy initiative as governor. Over the last two years, Governor Ivey worked to develop her ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ initiative into a true education to workforce program. Being a former educator and economic developer, she recognizes that workforce preparedness begins in the classroom. ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ aims to accomplish that through the three key areas of focus: Pre through Three; Computer Science for Alabama (CS4AL); and Advanced Training, Better Jobs.
This year’s ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ legislative package, which focuses on those three phases of a student’s learning journey, includes; House Bill 388, House Bill 216, House Bill 570 and Senate Bill 295. This is the most substantial education package a governor has signed into law since Governor Albert Brewer fifty years ago.
Pre through Three
‘Pre through Three’ focuses on building a child’s foundation for their educational journey and beyond. To further this effort, Governor Ivey signed into law HB388. The Alabama Literacy Act (HB388), sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, ensures that all students enter the fourth grade reading proficiently.
“This legislation will focus on helping students improve their reading skills and will enable them to achieve better opportunities in all areas of life,” Rep. Collins said.
This law also refocuses the Alabama Reading Initiative by providing support for educator professional learning in reading and strengthens support for struggling readers.
Computer Science for Alabama (CS4AL)
Governor Ivey recognizes that computer science education is critical in preparing Alabama’s students for the jobs of tomorrow. To put a greater emphasis on this subject matter, The Computer Science for Alabama Act (HB216), sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner phases in requirements for public schools to offer courses in computer science.
“Every student in Alabama deserves the opportunity to take a computer science course that better prepares them to have success in a world that is constantly becoming more technology dependent,” Rep. Faulkner stated.
In addition to HB216 providing funds for evidence-based computer science professional learning for K-12 computer science teachers, it also carves a better pathway for public school teachers to be properly trained and certified in computer science.
Advanced Training, Better Jobs
The governor has made it a priority of her administration to create the most effective workforce development programs for Alabamians across the state.
“It is imperative that we continue to find ways to streamline the process for students who are entering the workforce in Alabama,” Sen. Clay Scofield said. “This legislation is a great step in that direction.”
In signing both SB295 and HB570, Governor Ivey seeks to do just that.
Sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, SB295 expands the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit by providing an additional $500 for hiring in-school youth apprentices. Additionally, SB295 modifies the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit to increase the base tax credit from $1,000 to $1,250. It increases the number of apprentices one employer may claim from five to 10, as well as the tax credit cap from $3 million to $7.5 million. SB295 also establishes the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA).
“The AIRRAP Act will allow multiple state and local entities, as well as the private sector, to come together with a common goal of training our citizens to be productive participants in our state’s economy,” Rep. Alan Baker explained on HB570.
“With the constantly changing economy, workforce development must continue to be a focus of the Legislature and our state agencies,” Rep. Rod Scott said following the governor signing HB570 and SB295. “These bills, without a doubt, advance our efforts to have a 21st Century workforce that is not only equipped for the jobs that exist today, but is also prepared for the new jobs that will be created in the future.”
These four pieces of legislation go into effect September 1, 2019.