The head of early childhood education in Alabama has been ousted after Gov. Kay Ivey learned of “woke concepts” in a resource book for pre-K teachers, officials said.
Barbara Cooper, secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE), resigned after Ivey asked her to stop the use of the book, according to a Friday news release from Ivey’s office. The governor made the decision to “have a change in leadership” in the department.
The release says the manual argues that there are “larger systemic forces that perpetuate systems of White privilege” and that “the United States is built on systemic and structural racism.”
Also included, according to Ivey’s office, is the need for four-year-olds to understand that “LGBTQIA+ needs to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth.”
CNN has reached out to Cooper for comment.
Ivey’s office said it learned earlier this month that the resource book has content “that is simply not in line with what the Ivey Administration or the people of Alabama stand for or believe.”
Her office said the book is the fourth edition of “Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs.” The work is put out by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), of which Cooper is a member.
The NAEYC website says the book meets the challenges of the ever-changing nature of education. “With a strong focus on equity and teaching and supporting all children, it underscores the importance of social, cultural, and historical contexts of development.”
In a statement to CNN after Cooper’s resignation, the NAEYC said the book has been a foundation for early-childhood education for nearly four decades.
“While not a curriculum, it is a responsive, educator-developed, educator-informed, and research-based resource that has been honed over multiple generations to support teachers in helping all children thrive and reach their full potential,” the association said.
CNN has not reviewed a copy of the training book.
Gov. Ivey, in a statement, said the education of Alabama children was his top priority.
“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. We want our children to be focused on the fundamentals, such as reading and math.”
Ivey appointed Cooper in 2020. The governor did give some praise to the educator, saying she was a champion for computer science education and helped put more focus on students in lower-performing parts of the state.
Dr. Jan Hume has been appointed to serve as interim secretary of the department.