Alabama's public education system should be our top priority. The politics of education is too fixed on data, standardized test scores, and newspaper rankings. School should be a place where students work to enrich their prospects. The teachers that work tirelessly to make classrooms safe and meaningful spaces should be valued for their commitment and dedication. The bus drivers, instructional aides, CNP staff, and custodians that support every aspect of a child's day should be given the recognition they deserve.
Schools are serving more students with special educational needs than ever before. Sadly, our special education teachers and staff are so inundated with reports and paperwork that the students they care most about suffer. Our special needs students deserve the best and our special education teachers must have the staff and support needed to effectively meet increasing expectations. As representative for Senate District 14, Dr. Strong will carry the message to Montgomery that public education in Alabama needs to be priority number one.
It is time for mental health management to make it to the forefront of the Alabama political agenda. Too many Alabama families are touched by mental health issues or substance abuse disorders. Our prisons should not be our primary mental health treatment facilities. We must invest in a wider array of services and support for those suffering with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorders, opioid addiction or alcoholism. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly half of all lifetime mental health illnesses begin by age 14. Schools are certainly seeing a dramatic increase in the number of students struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, our suicide rate is greater than our homicide rate and greater than the national average. Dr. Strong will work to encourage legislators to give greater attention and resources to enhance community and school diagnosis and treatment services. Our increased investment in both education and mental health will benefit many generations of Alabamians.