State superintendent says focus on teachers, educational creativity

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — On a visit to Hoover Jan. 17, State Superintendent Tommy Bice told a group of about 50 that teachers are Alabama’s most precious educational resource, and communities across the state must find ways to invest in that resource.

“There is not one single cent in the state budget to support our most expensive expenditure, and most important expenditure,” Bice said of teachers.

State Superintendent Tommy Bice, left, speaks with James Carter. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

Bice used Finland as an example of what can be accomplished when teachers have a community’s full support.

“In Finland, there’s no standardized tests, but their students are outperforming students around the world because they put their resources into the people who do the work,” he said.

Bice said he also wanted to provide an environment where “school systems are allowed to be creative, allowed to be innovative and celebrated for that.”

He also touched on the importance of pre-K programs for Alabama’s students.

“Regretfully, most kids who need pre-K are not getting it,” Bice said. “The research tell us that for every dollar we put into pre-K, we get a 10-to-1 return on that investment.”

Bice also spoke briefly about Alabaster setting up a new school system, and reiterated that community support for such a system is invaluable.

“Every time you set up a new school system, that local community has to realize they own it,” he said.

A new school system must have commitment and financial support from its community. However, if such support is there, Bice said he believes new local school systems are beneficial for some communities.