After a distinguished career in the Army, Mobile native Frank Barrow retired as a Lt. Colonel in 2012 and immediately assumed duties as the Senior Army Instructor for the Junior ROTC program at LeFlore high school in his hometown. Atter 11 years in the classroom he moved to his present position heading all JROTC programs for the Mobile County school system. He is an active member of the Alabama Association for Career and Technical Education.
Here is a letter he sent to Governor Kay Ivey about his concerns about the leadership of state superintendent Mike Sentance:
“Dear Governor Ivey,
First, let me congratulate you on the decisions you have made after inheriting the mess left by our former governor…you have restored order in Montgomery and helped our state move past the shame brought on by the indiscretions of Governor Bentley. Under your leadership, we are no longer being mocked by the press for the mismanagement that was the hallmark of his administration. I believe that you will continue to ensure that the people of Alabama will be well taken care of with regard to taxes, infrastructure development, job creation, and the state’s economy. You and the legislature have an opportunity to ensure the fiscal health of our state if you work together toward a common cause.
That being said, I am writing you to express my concerns regarding our State Superintendent of Education, Mr. Michael Sentance. As an Alabama resident and an educator with the Mobile County Public School System for over 15 years, I am dismayed at the poor leadership skills demonstrated by Mr. Sentance in the short time that he has led the Alabama State Department of Education.
I am a product of the Mobile County Public School System…I also graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1979 whereupon I entered the US Army as a Second Lieutenant. When I retired from the Army in December of 2001, I opted to give back to my community by becoming a JROTC instructor at John L. LeFlore High School where I served for 11 years. I have since become the Director of Army Instruction where I supervise all 12 JROTC programs in our district.
Three years ago, I became the president of the JROTC Section of the Alabama Association of Career & Technical Education. I also chair the JROTC Committee at the Alabama State Department of Education. We meet quarterly to address concerns that affect our programs and our students. Until last year, I had tremendous faith in the leaders with whom I had the privilege of working, both at the district and state levels.
However, with the appointment of Mr. Sentance as State Superintendent, it became immediately clear that his vision of what works best for Alabama ran contrary to the great achievements we were making in education, especially with regard to our Career & Technical Education and Workforce Development programs.
While I do not doubt that his efforts have been sincere, the fact is that the vast majority of teachers across the state have lost confidence in his leadership and do not agree with many of his proposed initiatives. As a retired military officer, I have difficulty respecting anyone who is reluctant to look you in the eye when speaking and who speaks in a hushed, demurred tone.
Sadly, individuals who work at ALSDE in Montgomery are not only concerned for their jobs, but their morale is at an all-time low due to a lack of guidance from the top. Mr. Sentance is reputed to be a man who works behind the scenes and is reluctant to offer his employees a firm handshake and an occasional atta boy.
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to vote to remove Mr. Sentance as State Superintendent. You inherited a mess at ALSDE…as a former educator you know the challenges we face every day in the classroom. Your leadership has inspired me and renewed my faith in state government…initiate a new search for someone who will work on behalf of all Alabamians and lead the Alabama State Department of Education in a positive direction…one focused on the needs of our children and on providing the resources our teachers need to succeed in the task they are given. Thank you for what you are doing in Montgomery…I am optimistic that we will see positive change at ALSDE in the very near future.”
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), US Army
Director of Army Instruction
Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Program