Trisha Powell Crain
Trisha Powell Crain
Trisha Powell Crain publishes the Alabama School Connection (alabamaschoolconnection.org), a nonpartisan online news source focused exclusively on K-12 education in Alabama. Crain has spent more than a decade engaging in advocacy in public education on many levels. Her work has appeared in local, state, and national publications, online and in print. She has served on numerous panels speaking about the need for and rewards of family and community engagement.
Q: What led you to Alabama School Connection?
A: The children in our public schools deserve to have a full team of grown-ups championing their efforts. We can’t be champions if we don’t know what is going on. [That means more than the] surface level, [more than] the good public relations stuff, but on a deep level of what is working and what isn’t. Knowing allows us to better engage. Information empowers people. And that’s what the Alabama School Connection is all about: empowering people with information.
Q: What has been the single most surprising part of this journey for you?
A: How vast the abyss is between the decisions being made and what the public actually knows, and also, how hungry the public is for that knowledge.
Q: Have you in fact shuttered your photography business? Why, after a 15-year run?
A: Yes, I closed my photography business, but I will always take pictures and create photographs. It was a great way to earn a living as a single mother with three children, allowing me to control my schedule. But when my two oldest (they’re twins) headed to college, I knew it was time to get on with the second half of my life. I spent the next two years earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from UAB, which provided structure to the advocacy I had been engaged in for the prior decade. And I’m putting it to use through the Alabama School Connection.
Q: How do you think Hoover can leverage its most effective educational practices to the benefit of all other public school districts statewide?
A: After spending a decade focusing on Hoover schools, and after I branched out statewide, I found that the challenges we face, proper allocation of resources, effective educational practices, finding and retaining high-quality teachers and administrators, are challenges everywhere. Different faces, different names. Same big problems. Hoover, because of our diverse population, has an opportunity to be the model for how public education works for everybody, whether children are in poverty or have lots of family resources available.
Research shows that if you properly allocate physical and financial resources (particularly when you have a lot of resources like Hoover does) for academics, children achieve at high levels regardless of their socioeconomic status. Our school officials are daring and typically lead the way where technology and programming are concerned. Getting it right, here in Hoover, with the diversity of children living in our city, can make a tremendous difference statewide as other districts look to Hoover for leadership and results.
Q: What do you think are Hoover’s biggest challenges with regard to the bus situation, as it currently stands?
A: Buses are an essential part of education here in Hoover. Figuring out why running buses in Hoover costs so much more than the funding the state provides is the key to getting the costs under control. Charging fees isn’t the answer. Families already pay a whole lot of money out of their pockets during registration and for other reasons throughout the school year. We must get a handle on how our Board of Education allocates money the public entrusts to them and make certain all children are getting the excellent education such money can afford.
Q: Any closing comments?
A: We are at a critical juncture in public education in Hoover, and across Alabama. School works well for some, but not all children. We have to understand our public schools better so that we can partner with our boards of education to improve outcomes for all children. School officials need the public to understand what is happening. The public needs accurate, timely and meaningful information about our schools. We owe it to our children, our future, to get this partnership working properly.