Carsen and Ott EduChat

Alabama legislators have their hands full with a variety of education bills at various stages of development, including ones that would authorize charter schools and offer credit for creationism classes for public high-schoolers. But for this week’s chat with Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen, we move outside of Montgomery for some interesting education news. Carsen tells WBHM’s Tanya Ott that some of it is positive, some of it not – beginning right here in Birmingham.

Dan Carsen Speaks with Education Icon Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch has been a key figure in American education for decades. The prolific author and outspoken advocate was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education under the first President Bush. She was a pioneer in the accountability movement, but has since made friends and enemies by changing some of her views. She spoke with Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen, who asked her about issues hot in Alabama right now, including charter schools, charter advocate Michelle Rhee, and much more.

Carsen and Ott EduChat

When it comes to education in Alabama, it's safe to say there's enough going on to keep a journalist busy. In our third installment of a new weekly series, Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen sits down with WBHM News Director Tanya Ott to break down some of it. The interview starts with a recap of recent reports on religion in public schools.

A Constitutional Law Scholar on Ala. Religion in Schools Bill

A bill in the Alabama House would allow public school students to get elective credit for religious instruction. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen recently interviewed Blaine Galliher, the bill’s sponsor and a proponent of such “release time” programs. The programs would have to be approved by local school boards and would not cost the schools any money. And, Galliher said, students would not be coerced in any way. But a day later, Dan discussed the bill with legal scholar and religious liberty advocate Douglas Laycock...

Interview with Blaine Galliher on Religion in Public Schools

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But does that mean public schools can give credit to students for creationism classes? What if they’re off campus and privately funded? A bill in the state Legislature would authorize school boards to set up such “release time” programs. Dan Carsen speaks with its sponsor, House Rules Committee Chairman Blaine Galliher.

Carsen and Ott EduChat

It’s week two of the 2012 legislative session in Alabama and job creation and budget shortfalls continue to take center stage. Officials predict a budget gap in the many hundreds of millions of dollars – meaning cutbacks, possible layoffs, and other belt-tightening measures. WBHM’s Dan Carsen of the Southern Education Desk tells Tanya Ott that the budget crisis in non-education departments could pit the Education Trust Fund against everything else.

54% of support comes from members

Carsen and Ott EduChat

When lawmakers returned to Montgomery for the beginning of the 2012 legislative session, they had a lot of meaty issues to deal with, from tweaks to the state's immigration law to a potential $400 million budget shortfall. They're also tackling several education reform initiatives, and as the Southern Education Desk's Dan Carsen told WBHM's Tanya Ott, this year looks to be a lot like last year, with plenty of controversial issues on the table.

Religious Exemptions to School Vaccine Requirements on Rise

Today's students and most of their parents are too young to remember a time when epidemics crippled and killed millions. And there's a reason we've forgotten: vaccines. Even so, a small but growing number of Alabama students are getting religious exemptions to school immunization requirements. The reasons are sometimes religious, sometimes philosophical, and sometimes health-based. Dan Carsen has more from the Southern Education Desk at WBHM.

Jefferson County Tax Ruled Unconstitutional

Jefferson County's Occupational Tax is unconstitutional. That's according to a unanimous ruling issued by the Alabama Supreme Court, which upholds a lower court's ruling.

Remembering Virginia Samford Donovan

The namesake of Birmingham's Virginia Samford Theatre has died. Virginia Samford Donovan passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.

Bare Hands Closes

A fixture in Birmingham's art scene will soon close. This week, Bare Hands Gallery announced it will shut its doors at end of the year. The gallery opened 14 years ago as place for contemporary Alabama artists to show their work.

Bob Riley: The Exit Interview

Governor Bob Riley talks about his two terms in office with WBHM's Bradley George.

Michele Norris: The Grace of Silence

All of us have secrets--things in our past we'd rather not discuss. NPR's Michele Norris discovered a secret about her father, years after his death.

A Receiver for Jeffco’s Sewer: What Does It Mean?

Jefferson County's troubled sewer system will soon be run by a receiver. So, what exactly is a receiver? What power will he or she have?

Increasing Exports

Last year, Alabama companies exported more than 12 billion dollars of goods and services to other countries. While that number might sound impressive, it's actually a 20 percent DECREASE from 2008.

Remembering Cecil Whitmire

Cecil Whitmire, the general manager of the Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham, has died. He was 74 years old. Whitmire's work at the Alabama was source of civic pride and passion for many in Birmingham.

Birmingham-Southern’s Interim President

One week ago today, David Pollick stepped down as President of Birmingham-Southern College. Trustees named Mark Schantz as the school's Interim President.

David Pollick Resigns

Birmingham-Southern College President David Pollick has resigned. The college's board of trustees accepted his resignation after revelations of overspending and accounting errors at the school.

An Alternative Plan For 280

The Alabama Department of Transportation has a plan they say will ease congestion along the highway with an elevated toll road. A group called Re-Think 280 is opposed to the idea and they've put forth an alternative plan.

2010 Legislative Interviews

Fridays during the legislative session, WBHM's Bradley George speaks with an Alabama lawmaker

The Rundown
54% of support comes from members

Legislature Mid-Session Progress Report

This week is spring break for school children and college students throughout Alabama. The state's lawmakers are taking a break, too. After dealing with the legality of electronic bingo, funding for road projects, and charter schools, legislators return to Montgomery next week for the second half of the 2010 session.

Jefferson County Sheriff Resistant to Budget Cuts

Jefferson County Commissioners have asked all county departments to cut their budgets by 33 percent. This is due to the possible loss of revenue from the county's occupational tax. Most departments have complied, but notable exception is the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Legislative Week in Review

We review the week in the Alabama Legislature with Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Midfield) and Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood).

North Korea Nukes

The U.S. and its allies have confirmed that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon in the northern part of the country. Calling it a defense against invasion, the rest of the world looks warily on believing a nuclear North Korea puts other nations -- particularly those geographically close -- at risk. One Asian expert and UAB history professor, Dr. John Van Sant, tells WBHM's Steve Chiotakis that what complicates a diplomatic resolution is the history of bad blood - not only with the U.S., but with North Korea's neighbors.

No Child Left Behind: Year 4

No Child Left Behind has been on the books now for four years and the jury is still mixed on its success. A new study released this week by the non-profit independent group Center on Education Policy finds that NCLB, as it's known, is having a significant impact on students and educators. On the one hand, schools are more effectively using test data to adjust teaching. At the same time, though, they're reducing instructional time in other subjects to make more time for reading and math.

The Pentecostal Century

The last 50 years have seen an explosive spread of pentecostal and charismatic religion around the world. Former University of Alabama at Birmingham history department chairman David Harrell has studied and written extensively about the trend. He's on the UAB campus this week sharing his observations with students and WBHM's Tanya Ott. Click here to hear

From BSC to Saturn’s Moon

The scientific world is abuzz about the possibility of liquid reserves on a moon of Saturn. Research published in the journal Science documents Yellowstone-like geysers spewing from the moon. Birmingham-Southern College physics professor Duane Pontius was part of the research team that made the discovery.

Mental Health & Workplace Productivity

Depression and anxiety tend to peak as the holidays approach, either because of the stress of the season or simply the weather, with seasonal affective disorder brought on by darker, gloomier days. A new review of previous studies finds that depression and anxiety exact an enormous toll on U.S. businesses.