Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Eric Mackey graduated from JSU in 1992 with a Bachelor’s in general science education, and, on April 20, the Alabama State Board of Education selected him as the State Superintendent. Mackey beat out Jefferson County superintendent, Dr. Craig Pouncey, by one vote. The third finalist, Dr. Kathy Murphy, the superintendent of Hoover City Schools, did not receive any votes.
Mackey began his career in education as a physics teacher at Saks High School in Anniston, Alabama in 1993. He later served as the principal of Kitty Stone Elementary School and the superintendent of Jacksonville City Schools. Prior to being appointed to the State Superintendent job, Mackey served as the Executive Director of School Superintendents of Alabama, a position he has held since 2011.
“After working in the Calhoun County and Jacksonville City school systems, I saw the impact that state policy has on local schools and became more involved in policy issues,” Mackey told The Chanticleer. “Most educators don’t really like the policy end because it often leads to political complications, but I enjoy policy.”
Now, Mackey has a hand in making those policies, and he wants the education system to focus on supporting teachers.
“We are going to support and embrace the work of classroom teachers, who make the difference for students every day,” Mackey told the Chanticleer of his plans. “Only by supporting our educators and providing them with clear goals, direction and resources, do we move educational attainment forward in our state.”
Even though he will not officially start until May 14, Mackey identified his first course of action to media following his selection.
“The top priority will be assessment, getting the assessment system right,” Mackey told WSFA 12 News in Montgomery. “The reason it has to be top priority is because in order for us to have a new assessment in place in two years, which we’ve promised our locals we’ll have something ready to go by spring 2020, that RFP has to be released by early summer.”
Mackey was confirmed by the State Board of Education in an 8-1 vote, with only Ella Bell opposing. Bell voted for Pouncey and claims that a legal issue between Pouncey and board member Mary Scott Hunter swayed the original vote.
Gov. Kay Ivey, president of the Board, released a statement congratulating Mackey.
“During the interview, I was impressed by Dr. Mackey’s embrace of my vision to ensure that our children have a strong start to their educational journey so that they have a strong finish when they enter the workforce,” Ivey wrote. “That is the kind of forward thinking we need at the helm of the State Board of Education. I look forward to working with Dr. Mackey in the days ahead as we put the focus where it should be – on effectively educating every child in Alabama.”
Mackey and his wife, Robin, met at JSU, where Mackey was editor-in-chief of the Chanticleer from January 1991-April 1992. The couple has three sons: John, who is graduating from JSU in May with a degree in integrated studies; Brandon, a freshman at UAB majoring in physics; and Christopher, an eighth grader at Pike Road Middle School in Montgomery.