Courtney Wilborn is principal of White Plains Middle School in Calhoun County.  This school has received numerous recognitions for its performance and Courtney was Alabama Middle School Principal of the year in 2018.

All of which is to say that she personifies “professional educator.”  And like many educators around the state, she is dumbfounded by the effort of Senator Del Marsh to repeal the Alabama College & Career standards.  While too many Alabama educators remain silent on issues impacting them, Courtney is not one of them.

Following is the email she sent to all of the House members of the legislature who represent portions of Calhoun County.  She did an excellent job.

Subject: SB119 is BAD for our children…

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I believe it to be my duty as the Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year 2018 to urge you to consider all sides of the matter of repealing the Alabama College & Career ready standards as proposed by Senator Del Marsh..  As educators, we devote our lives to making children’s lives better. That is what we do every single day – not just when we need some press to further ourselves on a political ladder.

I am the principal of White Plains Middle School in Calhoun County. You need to hear the voices of the people who are actually in the classrooms and in the schools because, obviously, our voices have not been considered in Senator Marsh’s proposal.  PLEASE read the concerns from teachers in this school and others from around the state. Since we are a “Model School” for schools in our state we have visitors from schools throughout Alabama.  So the voices below are not just voices from Calhoun County, but from across our great state!

Julie Walker, 7th grade ELA teacher:
I am not in agreement with this proposed legislation. As an educator I do not believe it is what’s best for our students in Alabama. While there are numerous issues that need to be addressed to improve test scores in Alabama, eliminating Alabama College & Career ready standards  will not solve the real problems. The standards are not the problem. Smaller class sizes, equitable instructional resources, more ELL teachers, more rigorous teacher education programs, increased incentive for highly qualified individuals to enter and remain in the teaching profession are some of the real answers to our education challenges.  But instead of looking at these challenges, it’s much easier to stir up folks with political rhetoric such as in this case.

Christan Green, 5th grade ELA teacher:
As a 5th grade reading teacher, I truly believe that the revocation of our present standards an educational disservice our students.  Through the implementation of ACCR, our students have learned to be detectives who truly dig in and dissect a text for evidence.  The depth of text-based questions has dramatically increased through the implementation of these standards as well.   If these standards were removed, I would continue to teach in a way that challenged my students to dig deeper, as these are best practices for the educational goals of all students.

Although I don’t teach mathematics daily, I am also involved in mathematics instruction, and I absolutely see the benefit of these standards in mathematics instruction as well.  Instead of simply teaching our students formulas or process for HOW to complete mathematics problems (as I learned as a student), now we build an understanding of WHY we complete mathematical processes in a certain way.  This foundation allows for a better understanding of the processes and formulas that we use.  In both Math and Reading, the investigation that is involved in these standards allow us to push higher learners even further, while remediating those who need additional instruction. It would be an absolute travesty to revoke these standards as the impact on students of Alabama would be detrimental.

Jamie McCain, ELA teacher:
My major concern is why aren’t educators, who are on the forefront day-in and day-out, asked how our COLLEGE AND CAREER READY standards are working? These standards were ADAPTED to meet the needs of ALABAMA students. For the first time EVER, our reading and English classes are RIGOROUS and kids are thinking outside of the box and much more independently. They have some really great ideas, but until ACCR standards were implemented, we suppressed their ability to think.

If this bill is passed by NON-EDUCATORS, it will be detrimental to classrooms across the state. Our students will be the ones who suffer. If we want our kiddos to be competitive in a global market and become overall critical thinkers, we have to challenge them with rigorous coursework. Our current standards do just that and more.

I am disheartened and sickened by this bill!

Jane Lewis, Guidance Counselor:
I am of the opinion that this bill is nothing but political pandering..

ACCR standards are meant to teach children how to think, not necessarily what to think.  If our students are going to compete with other students for scholarships and college admission using the ACT, then we need to teach the same standards that our students are being tested on; also, ACT IS our state accountability test.

If politicians are truly interested in having a positive impact on the quality of instruction, they should fully fund public schools instead of taking public funds away to provide vouchers to private schools. Lawmakers should let educators make decisions since we are the professionals in the room..

Leslie Brotherton, Special Education teacher:
If we cannot adopt any national standards or “use any assessments aligned with them,” as the proposed bill states, then our students cannot take the ACT, SAT or any other nationally normed test, including the NAEP! How can we compare to other states if we cannot assess on national standards? Besides, how do we know the new standards the state adopts will be better than ACCR?

Chase Cotton, Math teacher

1. ACCR is not a curriculum. The masses mindlessly take a few bad examples that float around social media as the gospel as to what is going on in classrooms.

2. How many teachers have been asked about this? It seems to be nothing more than a political move to please people who have no idea what is best for our students.

Harriette Thompkins, Administrator :
The misinformation is horrendous!  I just attended a meeting where the truth was not welcomed.  Thankfully, we were there to debunk the misinformation.  It will take away National board funding as well, because it will get rid of national standards.  I absolutely disagree with this repeal effort..

I know some of our opinions seem a bit harsh and pointed, but I beg you to understand that just as a parent protects his/her child when the child is in danger,  we protect our students when they are in danger. They are in danger. SB119 is putting them in danger. PLEASE VOTE NO. Our children truly, truly deserve better. And who knows the standards and the students and the school needs better than educators?

Courtney Wilburn, White Plains Middle School
2018 Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year

We need more educators doing what Courtney did.  Letting legislators know what they think.