By Dr. Lisa Herring
It is my hope that it comes to you as no surprise that as superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, I am writing to inform you of, and urge you, to participate in the upcoming special election on Tuesday, Oct. 8, which will determine the future of our children and our community. It is for this reason that I solicit your support in helping to secure our collective vote for our children. It is our vote that will allow for the continuation of the resources needed to sustain our good work in order to continue improving and growing.
Birmingham City Schools has made significant progress for our scholars. If we wish to maintain this momentum, we ask you to vote “for” Birmingham City Schools three times on your ballot in support of a renewal of taxation. To be clear, this is not a tax increase. Additionally, this is not a yes/no vote.
We ask you to vote FOR this proposal three times, which will allow us to continue receiving current funding by giving our scholars the best opportunities for success. Your three for votes will help us protect the future of vital areas such as pre-k, technology, and job readiness.
As we reflect on this progress we have made, I want to remind you that our scholars have been positively impacted the most. If we lose these dollars, their futures and the future of our city will be jeopardized.
Help us protect our progress by voting for our children, for our community, and for our future on Tuesday, Oct. 8. Our progress is just beginning. As we continue to rewrite the narrative of our system, I invite you to join us in the work of using our voice, celebrating our victories and executing the power of our vote. Three solid votes “FOR” our children in Birmingham City Schools.
In May 2017, I humbly accepted the invitation to lead and serve the children, staff and families of Birmingham City Schools as school superintendent. Approximately 28 months have lapsed since the whirlwind of the transition from Louisville, Kentucky to Birmingham, Alabama. In the reflection of the last two plus years, much like one of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou, I often reflect and think to myself, “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now!”
As a child of the South (born and raised in Macon, Georgia), Birmingham has taught me so much about the critical importance of leading our children with confidence and empowering our communities with knowledge and support. It is the history of our great city that demands that we are all accountable for the wellness and future of our most valuable asset: our children.
The work of the public school superintendency, particularly in urban schools, is complex to understand and challenging to navigate. However, any standing superintendent should be confident in stating that the scholars we serve and advocate for are worth every effort executed along the way.
In Birmingham City Schools, a committed school board of nine members and I work tirelessly and strategically to improve not only academic performance but also the narrative of our system and the narrative that one day, each of our scholars and their families will tell. What we have learned in the midst of our transition together is that we must maintain a clear message and a strong voice.
It is our voice, our collective voice, that helps all of our constituents understand the critical elements of our work and why we do it. Our strategy has been clear: strive for strong, sustainable leadership, work together, measure our progress and write our own story in order to move away from the struggles of the past and highlight the present success and celebrations of the future. We have worked hard to move away from low performing schools to more schools making academic progress than the city has seen in some years.
Our board unanimously supported a strategic plan that is grounded in four key pillars: Student Success, Team Excellence, Stakeholder Trust, and Effective Systems and Planning. This strategic plan measures our progress annually. Our victory will come in many areas. However, our greatest victory must be seen in the success of the nearly 23,000 scholars we serve.
By design, we have not hesitated to highlight our victories, many of which we have seen and shared over the course of the last two years. Early childhood education provides scholars with a vital foundation for academic success, which is why our district invests heavily in pre-k education. BCS has nearly 50 pre-k classrooms. Research shows that children who participate in pre-K education perform better academically because they are acquiring fundamental skills at an early age. These skills empower them to excel throughout their educational careers. We continue to celebrate our victory in the classroom!
As many people know, technology is a gateway to the future job market. BCS is building leaders by ensuring scholars become proficient in the ever-changing world of technology. Our STEAM practices engage students with science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. We partner with technology companies to provide students with the best opportunities for success. We maintain our focus and our commitment to be victorious through innovation.
As for our scholars who have graduated from the district, the future is looking very bright. The BCS Class of 2019 received $44 million in scholarships. This is a testament to investments BCS is providing toward programs offering scholars hands-on experience in real-world settings in fields such as engineering and health sciences. BCS strives to ensure scholars are equipped for success in college, career and life by empowering students to attain positions in high-paying fields.
Help us protect our progress by voting for our children, for our community, and for our future on Tuesday, Oct. 8.
Lisa Herring Ed.D. is Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools.