Since I was not allowed to share my remarks to the state board of education on Thursday, I will share them here.  It is hardly the Gettysburg Address, but I did want to tell them about my 5th grade buddy in Mobile, Teawrie Hudson as I think our children were ignored in all the politicking of the hire of a new state superintendent.

After all, somewhere along the way I got the impression that the first priority of the state school board is the well-being of 740,000 public school students–not the well-being of political action committees.

“I am Larry Lee.  I am retired and live in Montgomery.

I am here today to represent my young friend, Teawrie Hudson.  She is in the 5th grade at Craighead Elementary in Mobile.

We met when I spent the day as an aide in her pre-K class at George Hall Elementary.  She was already reading at a 2nd grade level that spring.

As I’ve watched the process of hiring a new state superintendent  I’ve thought about Teawrie and wondered if anyone in Montgomery is thinking about the 740,000 students in Alabama..

Instead, it seems we are more concerned with satisfying special interest groups and jockeying for support for future political campaigns.

So we find ourselves today with more questions than answers.

For instance:

We know Michael Sentance withdrew his application June 27.  Someone asked him to reconsider.  Who?  Did the full board know this was done?

He left a voice mail June 28 that he still wanted to be considered.  But how could he re-apply on June 28 since the deadline was June 7.  Was this legal?

Dr. Steven Paine of West Virginia also withdrew.  Did anyone contact him and ask him to reconsider?

If not, why was Mr. Sentance given special treatment?

After the board drew up a list of required qualifications, why did you ignore  at least three of them in making your hire?

Why did you ignore Alabama code section 16-4-1 that says the state superintendent must be knowledgeable in school administration?

Why was an anonymous smear sheet sent to the Ethics Commission?  Who did this or caused it to happen when it is common knowledge the Ethics Commission does not pursue anonymous complaints. 

How did someone access the state department of education computer system and retrieve emails from 2009?

As long as these questions go unanswered the taint we now smell will not go away and is why this process does not need to go forward.

For the sake of Teawrie and 740,000 other students, let’s do what is right.”