Education

School resource officers turn to mental health to make kids safer

Parents’ school safety concerns carry more weight this year after the mass shooting in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. School resource officers in Hoover are adjusting by placing a greater emphasis on mental health.

New aviation high school in Bessemer aims to help students soar

At the Alabama Aerospace and Aviation High School, students, parents and teachers are excited as they prepare for the school’s take off on Monday.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Food is more than what’s on the plate for this Birmingham urban farmer

Fernando Colunga says it’s important to understand how food is grown and the culture it comes from. He’s a farming and cooking instructor at Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham and is passionate about teaching the significance of food to young people.

Birmingham awards diplomas to students who died before graduation

Not every student who starts school lives to graduate. It’s estimated nearly 2,000 children and teens die from gun violence every year in the United States. This week Birmingham City Schools awarded diplomas to the families of some of those lost students.

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What do Birmingham students think about race, college, even periods? Listen to these podcasts

WBHM’s education reporter Kyra Miles, along with two Report for America colleagues at al.com, worked with students at Birmingham’s Ramsay High School to create podcasts.

How will Avis Williams lead New Orleans Public Schools? Look to her work in Selma

Avis Williams transformed Selma, Alabama’s schools during her five years as superintendent. Now, she’s set to lead New Orleans’ all-charter school system.

Some teachers and LGBTQ families feel censored by Alabama’s “Don’t Say Gay” law

Alabama passed its own so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in April following states like Florida. It bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-5 classrooms.

Lavender Celebration honors LGBTQ students at UAB

Lavender Graduations, or Lavender Celebrations, are ceremonies that honor LGBTQ college graduates and their accomplishments. UAB has hosted an annual Lavender Celebration since 2017, but this year’s took on new meaning with new laws targeting transgender students.

New report shows math proficiency continues to lag in Alabama

This week, officials released an update to the annual Kids Count Data Book which measures the well-being of kids in Alabama. Advocates are hopeful spending on children's healthcare and education recently approved by state lawmakers will improve indicators.

In New Orleans, students are using Anne Frank’s story to teach each other about injustice

"In Quarantine with Anne Frank,” helps students learn to talk to each other about discrimination.

Educators, psychologists say attending school at home hampers students’ development

Roughly 70% of students at Birmingham City Schools ranked below their grade level in math, and 40% of students ranked below their grade level in reading.

Alabama’s ‘ultimate school choice’ bill gets complicated when considering race and poverty

Parents could get about $5,600 per kid in state money to use for other schooling options. The proposal is currently in a legislative study committee. But experts told WBHM school choice brings up concerns around equity.

Vestavia Hills schools and city face a lawsuit for allegedly withholding public information

The Vestavia Hill City Schools along with the superintendent and the city face a lawsuit alleging they’re improperly withholding public information on COVID-19 masking and safety protocols. The lawsuit was filed by two parents last month.

Mississippi’s plan to stop Alabama from stealing its teachers? Pay them thousands more

As Mississippi lawmakers plot how to keep more teachers in the state, educators warn the state’s bill targeting critical race theory could drive them away.

How a Birmingham art educator makes art feel accessible and inclusive

Angie May wants art to reach everyone who visits the Birmingham Museum of Art. As the associate director in learning and engagement, she heads inclusive and innovative initiatives to open art history to younger generations.

Jewish family faces death threats after complaining about Nazi salute performed in class

A teacher at Mountain Brook High School allegedly led students in a salute that mimics how Nazis raised their arms in World War II. A Jewish student in the class complained and his family says they’re now receiving death and arson threats.

After bomb threats, Southern HBCU leaders discuss how to move forward: ‘We can’t cave’

Historically Black colleges and universities in multiple states, including Alabama, have received bomb threats this month.

Birmingham teachers stage sickout due to COVID frustrations

Some Birmingham City Schools employees staged a sickout this week to bring attention to their concerns with how COVID-19 is being dealt with in their schools.

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Critical race theory divides Gulf South educators and state leaders

Critical race theory is a hot-button issue for politicians in the Gulf South. Alabama and Mississippi are attempting to pass new laws prohibiting it.

Some parents express frustration with schools’ responses to the omicron surge

As students across Birmingham return to classrooms after the winter break, schools must contend with the COVID-19 omicron variant. With cases surging, WBHM heard from some parents who are frustrated with the response from school leaders.

Field trips look a lot different for students this year. But that’s not entirely bad

As public schools adjust to all in-person classes, educators have found value in welcoming accessible field trips through virtual tours.

The stadium bid for Woodlawn High School is approved. It could be built by the fall

The Birmingham Board of Education has approved a bid for Woodlawn High School's new football stadium. It could be built by fall 2022.

How a Birmingham shop owner brings memories to life through books

Jim Reed has collected books and writings for more than 40 years and believes books keep memories alive.

Alabama is last in math. Politicians look for ways to close gap

Fifth graders could be required to pass a new math test to advance to the sixth grade. One lawmaker is proposing legislation for the 2022 Alabama Session.

Board rejects bid for Woodlawn High School stadium

The Birmingham Board of Education rejected the bid to build a stadium and fieldhouse on the campus of Woodlawn High School. This comes just months after the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Birmingham Promise gets a $1.8 million grant to boost students’ careers

Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded the Birmingham Promise a $1.8 million grant specifically to support internships and apprenticeships for Birmingham City Schools seniors.

Kids age 5 and up can start getting vaccinated in Jefferson County

Over 400,000 kids in Alabama aged 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, after the CDC approved Pfizer’s low-dose vaccine for kids. Several families in Jefferson County told WBHM they’re eager to get their shots and move towards normalcy.

3 things to watch for in the new Birmingham school board

With over half of its members new and millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funding, the new Birmingham City school board is ready to tackle education with a fresh perspective. WBHM talked to incoming, outgoing and returning members about what Birmingham teachers, students and residents can expect.

More Black families in Birmingham find freedom in homeschooling

The face of homeschooling is changing and diversifying. In just a year, the number of Black families has increased five-fold— and for more reasons than COVID-19. Several families told WBHM they see homeschooling as a way to protect their children from educational racism.

Alabama Board of Education cements state’s ban on critical race theory

At the October meeting, the Alabama state board of education cemented its ban on critical race theory into policy. But, attendants of the meeting reacted in disapproval.