Dakota Pipeline Stalled by Protests While Another Begins in Alabama

On Sunday, Dec.4, one pipeline was stopped in North Dakota. On Monday, workers began putting another pipeline in the ground in east Alabama.

That’s where, with little apparent opposition, the 515-mile Sabal Trail Transmission Pipeline will transport natural gas from an existing pipeline in Tallapoosa County through southeast Georgia to supply energy for growing needs in central Florida.

Environmental groups are now assessing whether successful nonviolent protest strategies used at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline might be transferrable to the South.

The Sabal Trail owners have swatted away one legal challenge after another from environmental groups. The court hurdle remaining will come in the spring, just weeks before the pipeline’s announced completion date of June 1. Read more.

An Alabama Teacher of the Year left. Birmingham’s Oliver Elementary School made national headlines. What happened? What does that say about a path to better schools?

As the last day of school approached at Birmingham’s Oliver Elementary this week, 44-year-old teacher Ann Marie Corgill found herself reflecting on what, for her and many others, was a devastating year.

When she decided to walk away from the school after teaching only nine weeks last October, she was in a low place, she said. Not only did the 21-year teaching veteran question her methods, but the Birmingham City Schools system informed her that, although she was nationally board certified and a former Alabama Teacher of the Year, she was not “highly-qualified.”

Her story was picked up in local and national news with stories in The Washington Post, CBS News, USA Today, National Public Radio and Huffington Post. Read more.

Study: Alabama’s Government Integrity Ranks Among Best in a Bad Lot

Alabama scored a D+ on its report card from the State Integrity Investigation, but the near-failing 67.3 grade was enough to rank the state seventh-best in the country on measures of transparency, accountability and ethics in its government.

The ranking is much higher than might have been expected as Alabama’s powerful speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Hubbard, faces 23 felony ethics charges alleging he used his office to benefit clients of one of his private companies and illegally lobbied the executive branch on their behalf. Not to mention the dozens of Alabama officials, employees, contractors and others convicted in state corruption-related cases in the past decade.

At Hueytown Elementary School, Love and Data Tackle Alabama’s Education Problems

The 850 kindergarten- through-fifth- grade students at Jefferson County’s Hueytown Elementary School have a message about education: Poverty doesn’t always mean lower scores on standardized tests.

On the ACT Aspire test they took last spring, in most grades and subjects, a higher percentage of the Hueytown students scored in the proficient range than did Jefferson County school district students overall or students statewide.

The accomplishment comes in a school where 58 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and where students are a diverse mix – 52% are white, 39% are black and 6 percent are Hispanic.

Assignment Birmingham: Build on City’s Assets to Create Innovation Powerhouse

Start with distinctive assets like UAB, Southern Research Institute, Railroad Park, and historic downtown buildings. Decide collectively how to use those to help transform Birmingham into one of the country’s centers for innovation. Market that innovative city to the nation and world.

That was the assignment put on the table for people who can make things happen in Birmingham by Brookings Institution Vice President Bruce Katz, an influential Washington, D.C.–based policy expert who recently spent two days in Birmingham.

All About Alison (Alabama Information System Online)

Need to know how your representative voted? Want to know if he showed up for the vote? Who is your senator or representative, anyway? Alison has answers. Alison is a nickname for Alabama Information System Online, a state-sponsored website.Trisha Powell Crain, executive director of Alabama School Connection, spends a lot of time tracking down information about the Alabama legislature and its members.