As we love to say when someone can’t seem to get out of their own way, “Bless his heart.” It is not necessarily a term of endearment.
Well, Governor Bentley has earned a string of bless his hearts that reach from Mobile Bay to the Tennessee River by telling a meeting of the 12 regional councils in Alabama that “our education system in this state sucks.”
The Governor continued by saying, “and we’re going to do something about it.”
So let’s taker a quick look at what this governor has done for education..
- In 2012 he signed into law a bill requiring that every school in the state receive a single letter grade of A-F. A process that has been proven to be meaningless time and again. A process that took educators away from their jobs for hundreds of hours trying to devise an equitable grading system.
- In 2013 he signed into law the Alabama Accountability Act that approved taking money that should have gone to support public schools for vouchers for private schools. At last count, this bill has diverted $72 million from the education trust fund.
- In 2015 he signed into law a charter school bill to create a separate school system in some communities, unaccountable to the local school board, that will divert more money from public education.
- In 2015 he appointed Matt Brown of Fairhope to the state school board. The same Matt Brown who worked hard in the spring of 2015 to defeat an effort to ensure that one of the fastest growing school systems in the state (Baldwin County) did not have adequate resources. The same Matt Brown who ran for a seat on the state board earlier this year, and despite outspending his runoff opponent 17-1, could not even carry his home county.
- In 2016 he recommended to the legislature that funding for the Alabama Reading Imitative be cut from $48.2 million in 2016 to $25.3 in 2017. That is 47.5 percent.
- In August of 2016 to voted to hire an attorney from Massachusetts with no formal training as an educator and no experience as a teacher, a principal or a school superintendent and no experience overseeing a large budget to be our new state school superintendent.
And let’s not forget that since the governor took office in January 2011, he has been president of the state board of education. So maybe he needs to look in a mirror when he talking about what is wrong with our schools.
The governor is fixated on National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) for 4th grade math. At the same time we wants us to believe that the only decent school system in the U.S. is in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he is doing what politicians always do–take things out of context.
For instance, he never mentions that in the most recent ranking for SAT scores, Alabama is higher than Massachusetts. He never mentions that the “gap” between white and black students and poverty and non-poverty students on NAEP scores is less in Alabama than in Massachusetts. He never mentions that in the most recent release of Blue Ribbon schools, Alabama had more than Massachusetts. He never mentions that if you look at 4th grade math scores on NAEP going back to 2009, Alabama has made greater improvement than Massachusetts.
Instead he belittles every educator in a public school in the state. He tries to draw laughter at their expense. He ridicules every local school board member, every school bus driver and lunch room worker.
Every superintendent in Alabama should invite the governor to come tell a principals meeting how badly they suck. Be a man and look ’em in the eye. Every principal should invite him to a faculty meeting so he can publicly shame a school full of teachers.
Wonder how many of them will laugh and applaud?
Christian Becraft is Governor Bentley’s education liaison Christian.Becraft@governor.Alabama.gov.
Jon Barganier is his chief of staff. Jon.Barganier@governor.Alabama.gov.
Let them know how proud you are of the governor.