Alabama voters will be asked to approve or disapprove Amendment One on March 3. A YES vote will switch us from an elected state school board to one appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. A NO vote will keep our present system of electing state school board members in place.
According to the first 500 respondents to our most recent survey on this issue, a successful YES vote has only two chances: slim and none as 93 percent say they will vote NO.
It should be pointed out that respondents have strong ties to education as 79 percent are retired educators, teachers or public school system employees. This, of course, is far different than the general voting public.
Other demographic info is also important. Some 61 percnet of respondents have either children or grandchildren in a public school, 43 percent are Republican, 65 percent are female, 86 percent are Caucasian and 44 percent are between the ages of 56 to 70.
While many believe that the majority of people opposing Amendment One are doing so because they do not want to give up their right to vote, this is not the case with our respondents. Of those with a connection to education, 70 percent say they are voting NO because they have little confidence in the state senate to do what is best for public schools. However, of those without ties to education, only 53 percent say they don’t trust the state senate.
Critics of Alabama education often claim that far too many are simply objecting to change because they want to preserve the status quo. But the fact that 60 percent of respondents say Alabama education is going in the wrong direction refutes this contention.
One of the stark takeaways from this survey is that there is a huge gap in how the general public views education and how legislators do.
For instance, when asked to give a letter grade to the state legislature, 66 percent give them either a D or an F. Only 4 percent give out an A or B. This dissatisfaction certainly carries over to senate majority leader Del Marsh. (If Amendment One passes, any appointments to the state school board, though made by the governor, must be confirmed by the senate. As majority leader, this means any appointees must be looked at favorably by Marsh. An appointed board would also hire the state school superintendent and again, this hire must be confirmed by the senate. So the perception is that Marsh would run the state school system.)
When asked how much confidence they have in Marsh to do what is in the best interest of public schools, 86 percent said, “very little.”
No doubt this extremely harsh view of Marsh is based on his track record since taking control of the senate in 2011. His unwavering support of A-F school report cards, the Alabama Accountability Act. charter schools, etc. undermines his utterances that he supports public schools.
I find it extremely interesting that 65 percent of respondents are female and 43 percent are Republicans. Yet they are not in agreement with the Republican dominated legislature. (There are 27 Republican senators out of 35. However, they are all white. And they are all male.)
When Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Matt Bevin for governor of Kentucky in 2019, many felt it was because many suburban Republican women did not vote for Bevin. This survey indicates that this contention has merit.