One of the most discussed bills coming from our last session of the legislature in the 2019 regular session was an act calling for a vote on a constitutional amendment next March as to whether we should have an appointed state school board, or one that is appointed. If approved by voters, the governor would appoint nine people to the state school board who would then have to be confirmed by the senate.
In other words, no one would sit on this board unless senate majority leader Del Marsh said they could since he rules the senate with an iron fist. There are 140 members of the legislature, 129 of them voted on this bill. Only 21 house members opposed it. No senators did. So only 16 percent of the members who voted were in opposition.
But was legislative leadership really reading the tea leaves of the general public on this issue?
A survey we did in late June certainly showed that the public and lawmakers are not on the same page. Out of nearly 1,200 responses, 89 percent said they would vote against this amendment..
And now, the executive committee of the state Republican party has voted to oppose this change as well. The committee met in Auburn on August 24 and passed a resolution to oppose the constitutional amendment, 64 percent to 36 percent. Since Republicans have super majorities in both the house and senate, this was a major rebuff, especially to senator Marsh.
The GOP vote also left egg on the face of the Alabama Association of School Boards since they are the only education group that has endorsed a YES vote on the constitutional amendment.
A press release by AASB of May 10, 2019 says in part:
“The AASB Board of Directors voted to endorse Gov. Ivey’s proposed constitutional amendment regarding K-12 educational governance after thoughtful consideration of the bold initiative. Fundamentally, we believe it is important the people of Alabama have an opportunity to vote on this dramatic change and that such change is needed to drive significant, sustained improvement in our schools across the state.”
Frankly I am baffled by the position of AASB since their members are local school board members, the vast majority of whom are elected to the boards they serve on. Does this mean all of those who run for office think they should be appointed–not elected? If so, I haven’t been able to find any of them.
What will happen in March? Your guess is as good as mine. But were I a betting man, at this point I would not put money on senator’s Marsh’s effort to hand-pick the state school board.