Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education is calling it quits after 39 years in public education.
In a March 1 press release, Dr. Tommy Bice announced plans to retire from his post as the state’s educational leader at the end of the month.
A spokesperson for the Alabama State Department of Public Education (ALSDE) said the state’s board of education could be considering options for an interim leader as earlier as next Thursday during its March 10 meeting.
Similar to most local school boards, the selection of the state superintendent is left up to a majority vote by the board members, including current president Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
Announcing his resignation, ALSDE said Bice “charted a course to improve public education” during his four years in the position. Among other accomplishments, the press release touted the state’s improved graduation rates and the implementation of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards — benchmarks customized for Alabama children that continue to draw the ire of many due to their Common Core roots.During his tenure, Bice also saw the state secure and renew a waiver from No Child Left Behind through its strategic plan for education reform, Plan 2020.
“While I may be retiring from formal public education, my work on behalf of students is far from over,” Bice said. “I will return to where my greatest passion lies – working with inner city students, their teachers and leaders to transform not only the educational opportunities for students but the communities in which they live.”
Adding further detail, Bice said he’d be joining the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation as their Education Director later this spring. MG Goodrich is a Birmingham-based nonprofit that focuses on education and other initiatives in the Birmingham area, the Black Belt and throughout the state of Alabama.
In departing, Bice said public education in Alabama is moving in the right direction, and he is “certain teachers and administrators will continue to do what they have always done, aggressively pursue quality education for the state’s greatest commodity – students.”
“I retire knowing that public education in our state is moving forward at an accelerated pace due to the dedicated teachers and leaders who have embraced the policy environment created by our State Board of Education — an environment where innovation and creativity are not only encouraged, but expected and supported.” he said. “At the end of every school visit I take, I leave knowing that great work is underway at the local level. I see faculties, parents, community organizations and students creating learning opportunities that are engaging and relevant to today’s student.”
As he leaves the formal setting of public education, Bice’s parting message for those in roles that impact public education policy and practice is to truly understand that the measure of success for Alabama’s students and schools cannot be defined by a single test, on a single day.
Instead, Bice suggested leaders “examine multiple indicators of student learning that embrace the individual strengths and challenges of each student that are often observable only to those who know the student best — their parents and their teacher.”