Chamber hosts Next Level event on public schools


The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama hosted its seventh Next Level Series Wednesday.

The topic was Public Education.

There are 173,165 students enrolled in Alabama schools.

Currently, there’s a severe teacher shortage.

The panel says there are 1,700 teachers in Alabama who are not certified in their subject.

Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria says there are 60 teacher vacancies within the city school system.

Daria said they are giving teachers a voice at the table when making decisions.

“We are we’re in a teacher shortage and a teacher crisis.  It takes a couple of things, one is compensation.  Its important but its not the only thing but I think we have advocate to professionalize the profession by paying it appropriately” says Dr. Daria.

Tuscaloosa County School Deputy Superintendent David Patrick agrees.

He says there should also be more mental health support for teachers.

Patrick says the County School System has partnered with the Whole Child Initiative from the University of Alabama primarily in the area of Social Work.

“These are things that help our students and our teachers to deal with emotional problems.  There’s been a lot of trauma over the last two or three years.  COVID-19 changed a lot of things for a lot of people and students had to deal with a lot of issues that we really havent dealt with in the past” says Patrick.

Another item discussed by the panel is the Alabama Literacy Act.

The act stipulates that all-state third-grade students must make a cut-off score on the Alabama Comprehensive Program in order to move to the next grade.

The bill has been delayed again in the Alabama Legislature.

“We support the delay of the retention part of the Literacy Act.  But, we also fully support the aggressive approach making sure all students are readying before 3rd grade” says Dr. Mike Daria, Superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools System.

“We definitely need our students to be able to read well because thats a foundation all of your learning that takes place as you move forward.  I think it goes along with all the goals that every teacher has” says David Patrick, Deputy Superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County School System.

Dr. Terri Boman, Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa Education Foundation says public education is not just the responsibility of our school systems, its a resposibility of all of us.

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