By Danny Garrett
Since assuming office Nov. 5, I have enjoyed meeting with many local leaders, citizens, and representatives from various organizations and hearing their concerns and ideas. I am becoming “more educated” in the process and look forward to working to serve the needs of District 44.
Last month, I attended the National Conference on Education Reform in Washington, D.C. The conference was organized by a foundation headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and was attended by approximately 1,000 state legislators, educators and others from across the country. A number of prominent people participated in presentations, including Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wall Street Journal columnist Amanda Ripley and former CNN reporter Campbell Brown.
The focus of the meeting was improving education in the United States. Participants had the opportunity to attend break-out sessions and learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing education in the U.S. A variety of viewpoints were expressed; some presenters/attenders favor the Common Core standards and approach, while other presenters/participants strongly oppose this approach. I found the conference to be very informative. I left the meetings maintaining a strong resolve that states control education within their borders, and that educational standards, resources and funding must increase if we are serious about improving education.
I also believe that charter schools and other alternative approaches to education merit consideration in certain circumstances. In addition, we need to promote and emphasize career, technical and vocational educational programs; every student is not going to attend college and our current system is generally not adequately preparing students who make up this category.
I spoke with several constituents, state legislators and University of Alabama System personnel about the decision by UAB’s administration to terminate its football program. If UAB is going to continue to emphasize and grow undergraduate programs and attract more resident students, I believe that athletic programs – especially football – are important to achieving this strategy. I wrote a letter to UAB President Dr. Ray Watts, urging him to work with the city of Birmingham, corporations and individuals in the metropolitan area to identify ways to financially support and continue the football program. I plan to continue to explore and better understand the issues surrounding Dr. Watts’ decision and recommendation.
This week, I will be in Montgomery for orientation meetings for the newly elected state legislature. We have a full three days of meetings and will be given office assignments and will soon learn committee assignments. I’m hoping for appointments on the Education Ways and Means and Small Business and Commerce committees; however, as a new member I will serve where the leadership believes I can best contribute.
Congratulations to coach Jerry Hood, Principal Michael Lee and the Clay-Chalkville High School Cougars for winning the Class 6A state championship in football. We are proud of your efforts, accomplishments and for the way you represented your city and school.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in District 44.
Danny Garrett represents District 44 in the Alabama House of Representatives, which includes Trussville, Clay and portions of Pinson. He can be reached by phone at 205-410-4637 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also follow his Facebook page, “Representative Danny Garrett.”