The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 17, 2013

Ala. business group creates education foundation

Associated Press

— POINT CLEAR, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama business group has created an education reform foundation.

The Business Council of Alabama on Saturday introduced the nonprofit Business and Education Alliance at its annual governmental affairs conference in Point Clear. Organizers say it's meant to unite the business and public education communities in the state.

The new organization is to be headed by former state Superintendent of Education Joe Morton and former state Rep. Jay Love.

Morton will serve as chairman and president of the foundation.

"Business depends upon a qualified and well-educated workforce in order to fill the 21st century jobs that Alabama is attracting, but in many areas of the state, schools are in need of improvement and measures of their effectiveness are lacking," Morton said.

He says it will provide research and support for education programs.

"Rather than creating a conflict between the business community and public education, (BEA) will work to unite the two so students and parents are better served, our economy is improved and Alabama employers are guaranteed the trained and effective workforce they need in order to remain here," said Morton, who served as Alabama's public education chief from 2004 to 2011.

Love, a Montgomery Republican, resigned his House seat in July to join the foundation. He says he'll help with fundraising and coalition building. He is a former chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Education budget writing committee.

"My service as chairman of the budget committee taught me the importance of maximizing the public education results we achieve in return for the almost $6 billion we invest in our schools annually," Love said. "If a student leaves school without being prepared for the high-paying, long-lasting jobs that Alabama is currently attracting, it hurts them, their families and the state's future economic prospects."