Alabama Gov. forces state education director to resign over “woke” teacher training book

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Official Portrait
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Photo: Office of the Alabama Governor

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) forced the director of the state’s Department of Early Childhood Education to resign after accusing her of promoting a “woke” teacher training book.

Ivey publicly blasted now-former director Barbara Cooper for distributing a book to pre-K teachers from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – a nationally accredited teaching association – because it addresses LGBTQ+ equality, white privilege, and structural racism.

The Alabama Reflector reviewed the book – called the Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th Edition – and found that it did not even instruct teachers to address these issues with students. Rather, it “focused on encouraging teachers to be aware of inequities, implicit bias and the diverse backgrounds of children in order to be better teachers and create welcoming environments for their students.”

One quote from the book mentioning LGBTQ+ people reminds teachers that students come from all types of families: “Children from all families (e.g. single parent, grandparent-led, foster, LGBTQIA+) need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity, and worth.”

The book also reportedly asserts that “the early learning setting can be a place of affirmation and healing for children, or it can be a space of trauma, terror, and exclusion. Educators must work to ensure that it is the former.”

And to Ivey, this content is unacceptable and worthy of resignation.

“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,” said a statement from Ivey’s communications director, Gina Maiola.

A statement directly from Ivey declared, “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. 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.”

Ivey’s is one of the latest moves in the GOP’s escalating war on “wokeness,” a term the party has co-opted to mean any liberal values that promote the acceptance of marginalized groups. She has long built a reputation as being fiercely anti-LGBTQ.

In 2017, she signed a bill to allow adoption agencies to refuse LGBTQ+ parents. The following year, she said she did not “agree with the agenda or the values” of an LGBTQ+ non-profit. In 2022, Ivey signed a law to make it a felony to provide gender-affirming medication to people under 19. Doctors face up to 10 years in prison under the law. Portions of the legislation have been temporarily blocked by a judge.

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