Moment of Truth
Transforming Montgomery's Public Schools
Recently, Montgomery has earned some impressive accolades, scored major economic development wins and hit multiple high marks: The city was named one of the 52 places in the world to visit in 2018 by The New York Times; tourism numbers soared to new records; and the entire area celebrated the landing of the F-35 jet program, an achievement that will have an $80 million annual economic impact.
Amid all the good news, Montgomery is facing a serious crisis, its public schools are failing. They're failing the students they exist to serve and they're failing the city and its residents whose tax dollars fund them. And that's UNACCEPTABLE. Community and Business leaders have come together and are demanding a change in leadership!
In 2017, the State Board of Education stepped in and announced an intervention of the system and those efforts are being led by the Alabama Department of Education's Interim Superintendent of Education, Dr. Ed Richardson.
In December 2017, Dr. Richardson spoke to 700 business and community leaders during the Chamber's Annual Meeting and asked the question, "Do you really want good public schools in Montgomery?" The answer is YES!
Video from the meeting:
Explore the links below to get a bigger picture of the challenges facing Montgomery’s Education System.
Repercussions of the Current MPS Board
- The minimum requirement of all Alabama Public Schools is to maintain a minimum of one month’s operating balance. The Montgomery system has not met that minimum standard in the last five years, and indeed has only met it once in the last ten. It is clear that the board of education during that time has not met their responsibility, which is one of the major responsibilities – oversight of finances.
- The oversight of student achievement is a major responsibility of a board of education…, and in my view, it has not fulfilled its responsibility.
- This year, MPS lost 790 students, resulting in a loss of $1.5M in state funds, or the equivalent of one school.
- 80% of MPS schools (40 schools) did not meet the minimum threshold for academic achievement. 70% of schools must exceed the minimum threshold in order to be released from intervention.
- The average ACT score for non-magnet schools is 14 or 15. The State average is 20. ACT College Readiness benchmarks predict that a student must score at least in the low 20s to have a 50% chance of success in college.
What's at Stake?
“If we do not make significant progress in finances and student achievement, we have to question whether or not Montgomery Public Schools can remain accredited,” said Interim State Superintendent of Education Ed Richardson.
Losing accreditation has a powerful impact on students within the system, the city and the community. Students within the MPS system would not be admitted into colleges and universities or be eligible for financial aid. Recruiting efforts would be halted and economic development would be non-existent.
2017 Montgomery County Report Card
- Overall score D
- Academic Achievement 45.21
- Academic Growth 79.83
- Graduation Rate 78.60
- College and Career Readiness 43.00
- Chronic Absenteeism 16.57
Poll of Registered Voters Revealed Some Stunning Statistics
- 7 out of 10 blame the Board of Education for MPS problems
- 90% believe the state's intervention was needed, due to lack of leadership, mismanagement of the system, quality of education and discipline.
- 75% rated the overall quality of MPS and the job performance of the Montgomery Board of Education fair to poor.
Charter Schools - Are they a viable option?
A Call for LEADERSHIP
In response to the intervention, the Montgomery Chamber launched a local campaign to cultivate interest among the public to run for the board. As a result, 19 NEW candidates are seeking election for the following districts: 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.
*The Montgomery Chamber reached out to all of the 19 new candidates, but 2 did not respond
Meet the Montgomery County School Board Candidates
*Source: Montgomery County Elections Office
Liletta Mahone Jenkins
As a citizen of Montgomery, parent and an advocate for education, I can no longer watch the public schools in my hometown fail. Because I care about the children in our public school system, I decided to run for the board. I believe all children deserve a quality education and failure is not an option.
I believe the school board is in need of fresh ideas, new perspectives and energy. My knowledge of K-12 education, experience as a teacher and an educational professional, and data-driven approach to problem solving will positively impact the decisions facing the board over the next few years.
The reason I'm running for Montgomery County School Board is because I am MPS, and I believe in the future of MPS. It's up to us to change the culture of our schools!
I am running for the MPS board because we need people with common sense, maturity, the ability to cooperate and an understanding of what goes on in our schools and the challenges they face. We certainly need members who are fiscally conservative.
I know we can have a world class public school system. Montgomery Public Schools must have new leadership that is willing to make difficult decisions and back those decisions with appropriate action. Our children deserve no less.
Misty S. Fairbanks Messick
I am running for the board because I want to be part of the solution. Our children deserve better. And they need better if they are going to grow into successful adults. As a smart, hardworking lawyer, I believe I have something to contribute.
I am running for the board because I believe every child deserves a first-class education.
The current board has failed to expect excellence. Leadership has been missing, and I hope to bring that back as well as a sense of optimism that we can fix this problem.
I am a candidate for the board because I have dedicated my life to education, and I want the opportunity to help to formulate sound policies and programs to move our community forward. I believe that what is good for children and schools is good for the community.
I am a civil rights lawyer and former Robert E. Lee High School teacher, and I am running because our public school students deserve a fierce advocate who will fight to ensure that they are receiving access to an equal, quality education.
Jannah Morgan Bailey
I am a product of MPS and I want children in our community to have the same quality education and opportunities that I had. I believe this can only come with change. I am running for the board because I have the experience to work with groups of diverse people for a common mission.
I am a United States Air Force veteran with no education experience; yet I am a proud parent of two MPS graduates and two current MPS students. I don’t feel our children nor our schools are failing; they are victims of a failed system. It’s time to rebuild MPS.
I am running for the board because I firmly believe that education matters for students, teachers, parents and the community. I believe our schools must provide a safe environment and ample opportunities for all students to achieve and excel.
The Montgomery Public School system is the foundation of our community. However, our foundation is cracking. We have an opportunity to make adjustments. I am asking to be the voice for the children, parents and community.
I am running for the board because I believe that public education is ultimately connected to the vitality of our community. I am running because our future depends on leaders who are willing to take a stand and do the right thing.
I believe that by investing in children, we are investing in not only their future, but our city’s as well. As a mom, the thought that we are failing children means I can’t stay on the sidelines anymore, even if it means an uphill battle.
Claudia T. Mitchell
I am running for the board because our school system is facing challenges that require responsible leadership. My top priority is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education that prepares them to achieve their dreams. I am committed to listening first and serving thoughtfully with respect.
I believe that MPS can become a success story for all families. I want to serve on the board because I believe Montgomery should expect more from our public school system, and I believe I am prepared to lead MPS toward the high performing lists.