Alabama House advances bill tightening Literacy Task Force duties

By: - May 24, 2023 6:55 am

House Ways and Means Education Committee Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, listens during a session of the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)

The Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday approved a bill that would give the state’s  Literacy Task Force more duties in the content creation for the state’s comprehensive core reading and reading intervention programs.

HB 430, sponsored by Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, passed the chamber on a 94-4 vote. It goes to the Senate.

Garrett said the bill would address “some questions, some concerns, some discussion about some of the work that’s done by the Task Force.”

The bill would require the task force to provide recommendations that are “age appropriate.”

Garrett said that no one in the task force is an employee of the state of Alabama, and that the State Department of Education has a limited role while “a group of volunteers” setting curriculum assessments.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, listens to debate during a session of the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)

“HB 430 does not do anything that will negatively impact the mission of the task force to improve reading proficiencies, (or) utilizing the science of reading,” Garrett said. “But it’s necessary to address some unintended and serious concerns and gaps in literacy law that had come to light.” 

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, the chair of the House Education Policy Committee, said that she thought the bill would weaken the Literacy Act. She said she could not vote for the bill because the Literacy Task Force was set up as an independent body of literacy experts, and “that’s how the bill spells it out.”

“And I think it’s their expertise that we’re wanting there,” she said. “They are still accountable to those that appoint them.”

Garrett said he was concerned that the legislature nor the governor’s office, doesn’t have the ability to accept, reject or modify the recommendations. He said that the recommendations from the Task Force “actually are mandates.”


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Alander Rocha
Alander Rocha

Alander Rocha is a journalist based in Montgomery, and he reports on government, policy and healthcare. He previously worked for KFF Health News and the Red & Black, Georgia's student newspaper. He is a Tulane and Georgia alumnus with a two-year stint in the U.S. Peace Corps.