Race to the bottom: Alabama’s educational establishment is on the hot seat after some recent newspaper editorials blamed it for the state’s failure to secure coveted federal Race to the Top education grants. Alabama finished last among the 35 states and the District of Columbia that applied for the money. The Mobile Press- Register criticized the Alabama Educational Association (AEA) for failing to endorse the state’s Race to the Top application, and also criticized the legislature, the State Board of Education and local school systems that failed to participate in reforms. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia received Race to the Top funding, according to the Press-Register. Georgia received $400 million, Tennessee $500 million and Florida $700 million.
To the moon and back: Our benighted province of Alabama, like it or not, is often thought of as a backward place. However, we can take pride that NASA’s manned missions to the moon were made possible by work carried out at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. President Dwight Eisenhower presided over the center’s formal dedication on Sept. 8, 1960. To mark this 50th anniversary, a historic marker was to be unveiled this week by Marshall Center staff and state and Huntsville politicians. The “Formation of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center” marker is part of the Alabama Department of Tourism’s “Year of Small Towns and Downtowns” program, which will place approximately 215 markers across the state this year. To learn more about the center, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall.
Burn that gas: The energy consumers of Alabama may not feel as though they’re on a hot seat, but perhaps they should. According to the new website EnergyTrends.org, maintained by a nonprofit think tank in Arlington, Va., called the Lexington Institute, Alabama ranks fifth in the country in the consumption of motor gasoline, seventh in coal consumption, 11th in total energy consumption and 14th in natural gas consumption. The state does better in its use of total petroleum, ranking near the middle of the pack at no. 23. According to a recent EnergyTrends news release, the site uses data from the federal Department of Energy. It tracks indicators for energy and electricity use, as well as the fuels used to generate electricity, and ranks states in each category.
Oil spill response: All of the people working to help restore the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill should be in the limelight. Check out, for example, Mobile Baykeeper, at www.mobilebaykeeper.org. Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit environmental group with over 4,000 members, all with a common interest in protecting the health and beauty of the Mobile Bay watershed. The group is currently recruiting new members, people with their same passion for preserving South Alabama’s rich, diverse eco-systems. You can also check out the Alabama Coastal Foundation at www.joinacf.org. If you want to volunteer in the clean-up, these sites can tell you how to help, particularly as regards the relatively small but precious Alabama Gulf coast and the Mobile Bay watershed. You can also track developments in the cleanup.