Sofoklis Goulas

Economist

Sofoklis Goulas

Economist

Blog Post

Alabama Broadband for Education

A Proposal: Make Alabama the Broadband for Education State

Alabama is poised for change. With a few marginal adjustments in an already strong start, the state can realize dramatic growth in its human capital and economic health. This proposal describes the overall approach and provides details on how the Alabama Innovation Commission, the governor and the state legislature can accelerate the rate of growth.

Improving the K–12 public education system in Alabama has been a desire for years, for good reason. The future benefits of improved learning for individuals are well known and well documented: greater employability, greater chances of completing higher education, higher wages, longer and more productive work lives. What has been missing is an approach that can achieve the improvement at scale.

The quality of schools arises from a host of factors. Of these, the largest available lever of change is the efficacy of instruction. Any plan to raise the caliber of student learning must support current and future educators in delivering high-quality instruction to every student every day. The pandemic prompted us to see that “classroom” might take on different dimensions even if not required by public health concerns. The plan must also recognize that much of learning occurs when students are not in classrooms; club activities, sports, outings, homework, and community-based experiences are examples. An approach to student-centered learning from instruction provided by teachers, backed by high-quality course materials and lessons, can only occur at scale if we can ensure that teachers have the proper access to instructional resources and the support to guarantee that they deliver high-quality instruction.

As part of its final recommendations, the Alabama Innovation Commission has a chance to move aggressively on these ideas. It can do so by strengthening the focus on K–12 education as a driver of its Broadband Alabama initiative. Ensuring physical facilities and services are available also needs to accompany targeted support to make certain that all students have equitable opportunity to access and use it. These commitments open horizons of possibility in K–12 schools to enrich existing practices with a wider range of digital instructional resources and new high-quality teaching methods that match materials and instruction to student needs. This shift requires that educators and leaders complete new paths of professional development to increase the educator labor force’s capacity and expertise.

This proposal builds on many important advances already in place in Alabama—in schools and in communities. Still, it will require a multiyear initiative to build the necessary political coalition, secure the required funds, and organize the waves of needed construction. As the policy leaders and educators in the state have already demonstrated, this proposal can benefit from the strong capacity for action that has been on display over the pandemic period.


Co Authors : Chunping Han, Margaret E. Raymond
Outlet : Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Link : https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/research/docs/alabama_webreadypdf_rev.pdf