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December 2012 Group Watch: News & Views from the Statehouse

The holidays are here, and we’ve got some news — good and otherwise — to share.

  • Alabama Moves Up 3 Spots: We’re moving on up! A recently released study by United Health Foundation reveals that Alabama is out-performing many of its Gulf Coast neighbors. The state rose to number 45 in the annual national health rankings, putting us ahead of South Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Yet risk factors such as healthcare coverage and crime rates continue to be challenges for the state. The study lists obesity, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles among the state’s biggest problems. While the number of smokers has fallen in recent years, more than 24 percent of the adult population continues to smoke. The gains made in Alabama are attributed to increased high-school graduation rates and lower infant mortality rates. Alabama was 4th in fewest binge drinkers and 10th for the most public health funding per capita.
  • Governor & Wreaths Across America: Governor Robert Bentley recently took part in the Wreaths Across America Statehouse ceremony sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Following the ceremony in the state capital auditorium, a wreath was taken to the Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the capital. All Statehouse ceremonies nationwide will pay tribute to America’s fallen service members while honoring those currently serving. The ceremonies were held in advance of the national day, which was December 15.
  • State Board of Education Takes Action: The State Board of Education announced recommendations to the Montgomery Public School system relating to findings of grade changing involving 200 of the systems 14,000+ students. The recommendations included disciplinary action on the implicated staff, the development and implementation of more clear guidelines of the current grade reporting system, and the placement of a monitor, appointed by the state, to oversee compliance with the plan. The incident was described as “ a very critical breach of academic integrity.” The investigation revealed that the majority of the infractions were not made by classroom teachers but by administrative staff assigned by the superintendent to supervise the secondary education program at the district and school level.

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