Alabama Early Childhood Education Secretary resigns after pre-K educator book pulled

Governor Ivey announced she accepted Dr. Barbara Cooper's resignation, and this appears to be over a pre-K educator resource book.
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 3:44 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) - In a statement released on Friday from the Office of Governor Kay Ivey, the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) has resigned after a pre-K educator resource book was pulled by the state that “contained a woke agenda.”

In a release sent out by the Governor’s Communications Director Gina Maiola, Ivey’s Administration was asked to give attention to the book, verified independently to be the “National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th Edition,” due to its content not being in line with what they claim they or the people of Alabama believe or stand for.

According to Ivey’s office, the book contained material that focused on ideas for teachers such as there being a “larger systemic force that perpetuate systems of White privilege,” that “the United States is built on systemic and structural racism,” and that it should be taught to pre-K students that “LGBTQIA+ need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth.”

Ivey and her administration believe all these and other “equally disturbing concepts” do not match what they or the people of Alabama believe should be used “to influence school children, let alone four-year-olds.”

“The education of Alabama’s children is my top priority as governor, and there is absolutely no room to distract or take away from this mission,” said Governor Ivey. “Let me be crystal clear: Woke concepts that have zero to do with a proper education and that are divisive at the core have no place in Alabama classrooms at any age level, let alone with our youngest learners. We want our children to be focused on the fundamentals, such as reading and math.”

Following a review requested by Ivey, including confirming with ADECE the book being one distributed in the state for pre-K educators, ADECE Secretary Dr. Barbara Cooper was directed to send out a memo to disavow the book and discontinue its use statewide.

In addition, following the memo being sent out, Ivey made the decision to change the leadership at ADECE and accepted Dr. Cooper’s resignation, effective immediately.

“Alabama’s First Class Pre-K is the best in the country, and those children are at too critical of a juncture in their educational journeys and development to get it wrong,” said Ivey. “I remain confident in the wonderful teachers we have in pre-K classrooms around our state and in the necessity of our children receiving a strong start to their educational journeys in our First Class Pre-K program. I thank Dr. Cooper for her service, but I believe it is best we continue this historically strong program on its forward trajectory under new leadership.”

In the release, it was also made clear that “Governor Ivey strongly believes that woke concepts have no place at any level of education in the state of Alabama and should not be taking away from the overall mission of improving educational outcomes for students.”

Dr. Jane Hume will act as interim secretary of the ADECE at this time, and Governor Ivey will make a decision on a permanent secretary to lead the department in the immediate future.

Information about the book in question can be found on the NAEYC website, and the book can be purchased on Amazon.

clarification: The story has been updated to include the title of the in-question book, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th Edition, as well as links at the end of the story to find the book and further information about it.

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