MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday announced she replaced her director of early childhood education over the use of a teacher training book, written by a nationally recognized education group, that the Republican governor denounced as teaching “woke concepts” because of language about inclusion and structural racism.
Barbara Cooper was forced out as as head of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education after Ivey expressed concern over the distribution of the book to state-run pre-kindergartens. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola identified the book as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book, 4th edition. Maiola said she understands that the books have been removed from the state classrooms.
“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 said in a statement.
Ivey’s statement comes as conservative politicians have made a rallying cry out of decrying so-called “woke” teachings, with schools sometimes emerging as a flashpoint over diversity training and parents’ rights.
The governor’s office said Ivey first asked Cooper to “send a memo to disavow this book and to immediately discontinue its use.” Ivey’s office did not say how Cooper responded but that the governor made the decision to replace Cooper and accepted her resignation. Cooper could not immediately be reached for comment.
The book is a guide for early childhood educators. It is not a curriculum taught to children.