INTERVIEW: State Schools Chief on Birmingham Investigation

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The state-level investigation of the Birmingham Board of Education has become a national television and radio story. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice and the state board of education initiated the inquiry after witnessing a chaotic local board meeting. Part of the chaos and acrimony stemmed from two failed attempts to oust Birmingham Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. At that meeting, board members made serious allegations of impropriety on their own board and practically begged for outside help. Now, former state Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson is leading a team of investigators that will get to work next week. State Superintendent Bice and the team met with the local board behind closed doors late Thursday. Our Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen caught up with Superintendent Bice via cell phone while Bice was traveling late Friday:


Some highlights and time pegs:

*First five minutes — an overview of the coming investigation.

*05:28 — how a true takeover might happen.

*05:54 — discussion of the cost of the state investigation.

*07:09 — speaking of finances, something the Birmingham City School district has done well.

*07:33 — discussion of the tax revenue climate and potential cost efficiencies.

*08:05 — how charter schools fit in all this.

*09:20 — Bice responds to accusation of racism.

*11:13 — Bice’s advice for parents, teachers, students, and administrators in the Birmingham System.

*12:14 — Bice’s assessment of Craig Witherspoon.

*13:10 — reasons for optimism.