As I write this late on Tuesday night, March 3rd, Amendment One is losing by a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent.
That is not just a defeat, it is having your heart jerked out and stomped flat.
From one end of the state to the other, folks said emphatically that they don’t want to give up their vote and they have no confidence at all in the legislature to be in charge of public schools. Baldwin County is as Republican as you can get. Yet 79 percent of voters there rejected this amendment. At the other end of the state in Madison County, where former state school board member Mary Scott Hunter was promoting a YES vote, 68 percent of voters said NO.
From the Black Belt (Dallas 75 percent no) to the Piedmont (Randolph with 87 percent no) to Sand Mountain (Marshall with 74 percent no), voters were adamantly opposed to this amendment.
And all of this happened in the face of a campaign by special interests that raised $471,000 to pass the amendment.
It was truly a grass roots effort fueled by passionate educators who ran ads in weekly newspapers, took to social media and talked to friends and neighbors. And while both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, the amendment ran into significant opposition from Republican stalwarts.
In my mind, the big loser is all of this is the legislature. Last July 19 I asked the question “Did the legislature paint themselves into a corner?” I think they absolutely did. When this legislation came out of the 2019 regular session, of 129 votes, only 21 were opposed to it.
I doubt many thought how a rejection of this magnitude would reflect upon them. But it did indeed. This is backed by the three surveys we did on this issue, each time asking respondents to give the legislature a letter grade. In the last one done in January, 66 percent gave the legislature either a D or an F.
Rumor is that senate majority leader Del Marsh will soon come with a package of bills dealing with education. If so, it is time for sane minds to prevail and think long and hard before they follow the good senator over another cliff like they did with Amendment One.