Robert Bentley on Education



First Class Pre-K good, but only enrolls 12% of kids

Griffith and Bentley both support expanding the availability of pre-kindergarten. Alabama's voluntary pre-K initiative, First Class, started in 2000 and is well-regarded nationally. The Legislature, at Bentley's request, has doubled funding for pre-kindergarten over the last two years, to $38 million. The program has grown accordingly but still serves only about 7,400 children, about 12% of the state's 4-year-olds.

Bentley said he will ask the Legislature for another $10 million increase next year. He said the state should gradually expand it be available to all 4-year-olds statewide. "Every child would have a foundation upon which they could build," Bentley said.

The governor said statistics show the value of First Class. All of its children, for example, have gone on to become grade-level readers in third grade. Moreover, pre-K narrows the achievement gap: Low-income children who experience pre-k are less likely to struggle later.

Source: AL.com coverage of 2014 Alabama gubernatorial debate , Sep 7, 2014

First Class program: voluntary Pre-K education

We must give children a chance at success even before they reach Kindergarten. We must close the achievement gap. Children and schools must be given every chance to succeed. I truly believe by allowing greater access to a voluntary Pre-K education, we will change the lives of children in Alabama.

Alabama's First Class program is nationally-recognized for its quality. Alabama is currently 1 of only 4 states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The benchmarks include teacher training, staff-child ratios, support services and more. However, only 6% of Alabama's 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in the First Class program. The state also ranks a disappointing 33rd in access among the 40 states that offer pre-K programs. In order to expand access, Governor Bentley proposed additional funding for voluntary pre-kindergarten in the fiscal year 2014 Education Trust Fund.

Source: 2014 Alabama Gubernatorial website, BentleyForGovernor.com , Sep 1, 2014

Improving schools with a federal/state/private partnership

Governor Bentley announced results for A+ College Ready's Advanced Placement Training and Incentive program. Program schools achieved a 108% average increase in passing Advanced Placement scores. A+ College Ready is a proven investment that is preparing our students for college and the jobs of tomorrow. The funding is a public-private partnership that includes the legislature, the National Math and Science Initiative, the U.S. Department of Education and private donors.
Source: 2011 Alabama gubernatorial press release #5513 , Aug 24, 2011

Though benefits will be cut, no teaching jobs will be lost

Beginning with 2012, we will ask our teachers to contribute more to their individual retirement and to health care insurance programs. We are only asking our teachers to do what virtually everyone else has been forced to do in these tough economic times. And though there will be sacrifices--I will not sacrifice one single teacher's job. Classroom sizes will not increase. There will be no cuts to the length of the school year or to contract days for teachers or support personnel.
Source: 2011 State of the State speech to Alabama legislature , Mar 1, 2011

Give more power to school boards to make decisions

We will give flexibility to local school boards to prioritize and make decisions that affect the schools in their districts. We will remove restrictive language from legislation that dictates decisions made by these schools board and give them additional funding and flexibility so they can put the money to highest and best use.
Source: 2011 Alabama gubernatorial press release #4728 , Mar 1, 2011

Only 10 charter schools; let local boards reject them

On Feb. 10, 2010 I voted to indefinitely postpone considering charter school legislation because it was inadequate for Alabama and needed improvement. While I prepared two amendments to improve the bill so I could vote in favor of it, the committee did not consider either one.

My first amendment limited the initial number of initial charter schools to ten, five for technical schools and five for local community schools. This initial limit would allow the state to test and evaluate the effectiveness o charter schools before implementing it statewide.

My second amendment gave local school boards sole authority on whether to establish charter schools in their communities, instead of the State Board of Education. I support maximizing local authority an providing increased flexibility to local school boards, and believe local communities can better assess their own needs than the State Board of Education.

I am not willing to fund an untested program in order to get "Race to the Top" money.

Source: Campaign website, robertbentley2010.com, "The Issues" , Nov 2, 2010

Supports moment-of-silence and teacher spanking law

Source: Alabama 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Other governors on Education: Robert Bentley on other issues:
AL Gubernatorial:
Parker Griffith
AL Senatorial:
Jeff Sessions
Richard Shelby

Gubernatorial Debates 2014:
AL: Bentley(R) vs.Griffith(D)
AR: Ross(D) vs.Hutchinson(R) vs.Griffin(R,Lt.Gov.)
AZ: Ducey(R) vs.DuVal(D) vs.Mealer(AE) vs.Gilbert(L) vs.Riggs(R)
CA: Brown(D) vs.Kashkari(R)
CO: Hickenlooper(D) vs.Beauprez(R) vs.Tancredo(R) vs.Hess(L)
CT: Malloy(D) vs.Foley(R) vs.Walker(R,Lt.Gov.)
FL: Scott(R) vs.Crist(D) vs.Snitker(L,Lt.Gov.)
GA: Deal(R) vs.Carter(D) vs.Hunt(L)
HI: Ige(D) vs.Aiona(R) vs.Abercrombie(D)
IA: Branstad(R) vs.Hatch(D) vs.Hoefling(R)
MA: Coakley(D) vs.Baker(R) &Polito(R,Lt.Gov.) vs.Grossman(D) vs.Berwick(D)
ME: LePage(R) vs.Michaud(D) vs.Cutler(I)
MI: Snyder(R) vs.Schauer(D)
NM: Martinez(R) vs.King(D)
NY: Cuomo(D) &Hochul(D,Lt.Gov.) vs.Astorino(R) vs.Hawkins(G) vs.Teachout(D)
OK: Fallin(R) vs.Dorman(D)
PA: Corbett(R) vs.Wolf(D) vs.Schwartz(D,lost primary) vs.Critz(D,Lt.Gov.,lost primary)
Newly-elected 2014:
AK-I: Bill Walker
AR-R: Asa Hutchinson
AZ-R: Doug Ducey
IL-R: Bruce Rauner
MA-R: Charlie Baker
MD-R: Larry Hogan
NE-R: Pete Ricketts
PA-D: Tom Wolf
RI-D: Gina Raimondo
TX-R: Greg Abbott

Up for re-election 2014:
AK-R: Sean Parnell
AL-R: Robert Bentley
CA-D: Jerry Brown
CO-D: John Hickenlooper
CT-D: Dan Malloy
FL-R: Rick Scott
GA-R: Nathan Deal
HI-D: Neil Abercrombie
IA-R: Terry Branstad
ID-R: Butch Otter
IL-D: Pat Quinn
KS-R: Sam Brownback
ME-R: Paul LePage
MI-R: Rick Snyder
MN-D: Mark Dayton
NH-D: Maggie Hassan
NM-R: Susana Martinez
NV-R: Brian Sandoval
NY-D: Andrew Cuomo
OH-R: John Kasich
OK-R: Mary Fallin
OR-D: John Kitzhaber
PA-R: Tom Corbett
SC-R: Nikki Haley
SD-R: Dennis Daugaard
TN-R: Bill Haslam
VT-D: Peter Shumlin
WI-R: Scott Walker
WY-R: Matt Mead
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Term-Limited or Retiring 2014:
AR-D: Mike Beebe
AZ-R: Jan Brewer
MA-D: Deval Patrick
MD-D: Martin O'Malley
RI-I: Linc Chafee
TX-R: Rick Perry

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Page last updated: Nov 30, 2014