Meet The State Superintendent Candidates

D Day is Friday, April 20.  In this case, D stands for DECISION as the governor, plus the state school board, will interview four candidates for state superintendent and decide on one. Ray & Associates, the search firm handling this project, brought seven names before...

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Tales From The (Campaign) Trail

Don't be fooled.  Campaigning for any office is pretty much a slog.  Whether it is for the local school board, as I am doing in Montgomery, or for governor, it is hard work. And you are constantly disappointed as you realize most folks are just not very interested in...

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Joe Windle’s Unique Perspective

Most folks in Tallapoosa County just know that Joe Windle is the superintendent of the county school system.  Some recall when he was principal at Reeltown high school. What most do not know is that prior to becoming part of the school system, he spent 28 years in the...

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Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus – Part Two

Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus: Part Two How do you tell how much a community cares about its public schools?  Looking in their pocketbook is an excellent way to start. Do this and you discover that Montgomery apparently cares less than places like Bullock County,...

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Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus

If the Montgomery public school situation isn’t a full-blown circus, then I have never heard a calliope. All we need is a trapeze or two, a couple of elephants and a lion and a tiger. We already have a full cast of performers. The MPS school board, the chamber of...

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Timeline For Superintendent Search Released

The state department of education has released the timeline for the search for a new state superintendent. All interested parties had to have applications in by March 23, 2018. April 12, 2018--Ray and Associates, the search firm employed by ALSDE, will meet with the...

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Decision Time For Mary Scott Hunter

Not only is state school board member Mary Scott Hunter engrossed in a run for the state senate in Huntsville, she faces a very tough decision before her election on June 5. The state school board is now beginning a search for a new state superintendent.  It is being...

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Did He Really Say That?

It seems that it would not be a normal legislative session without at least one bill that is considered "very contentious."  Most observers are bestowing this title to HB317 for the session that ended this week. As I understand it (and I make no promises that I do)...

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Hitting Delete Ain’t Much Fun

When I checked a few moments ago, there were 2,347 email addresses in my address book.  But earlier today there were 2,349 because I just deleted two. That's because two longtime friends passed away in the last few weeks,  But each time this is the reason I hit...

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Distrust Damaging Montgomery Schools

By Larry Lee Distrust is a cancer that can destroy anything it infects.  A marriage, a football team, a church, a business—or in the case of Montgomery--a school system. One simply has to look at the mess we’re in and all the people pointing fingers and blaming...

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A Tale Of Two States

Knowing there is always more than one way to skin a cat, some Alabama legislators are always looking for new ways to sneak more money away from public schools. This time it was by allowing taxpayers to use tuition to private schools as a tax break, thus taking more...

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Mike Sentance Search Won’t Go Away

Let me show my age again.  Some of us recall in a faraway time of black and white TV when John Cameron Swayze touted the durability of Timex watches.  He put them on the blade of a motor boat engine, spun them underwater at 4,500 RPM and then showed us that the watch...

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Grant Time For Black Belt Teachers

Each year the national organization, Rural Schools Collaborative runs a small grant program for rural teachers.  (I serve on their board.)  And it's time for teachers to make application. We have awarded 15 grants in the last few years.  While they are usually not...

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There IS Goodness In This World

Given the constant bombardment of "bad" news we all get (some of which comes from me talking about dumb education policy, etc.) it is understandable that sometimes we want to turn off the TV, put down the newspaper and throw our I pad in the trash. But honest, there...

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Campaign Is Up And Running

The campaign for a seat on the Montgomery County board of education is off to a great start.  After qualifying with the local Republican party, I filed necessary paperwork with both the Secretary of State and the Ethics Commission and have now submitted my...

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More Silliness From A-F

No doubt you are tired of reading posts about how dumb the A-F school report cards are.  And I am tired of writing about this fiasco. But then I come across another example of how truly silly it is and can't help telling you about it.  Each year the Council for...

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Another School System Votes Against A-F

Winfield straddles the Marion and Fayette county lines about 75 miles northwest of Birmingham.  Probably its greatest claim to fame is the annual "Mule Day" celebration each September. But in education circles, Winfield has long been known for a small, but excellent,...

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Meet My Two Newest Best Friends

A few days ago, I told you about my trip to Dadeville Elementary in Tallapoosa County to be interviewed by their sixth-grade TV crew for one of their morning broadcasts.  These are broadcast on the Tiger News Network (TNN).  You can find them on YouTube The anchors...

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When Is An F Not A Failing Grade?

As far back as I can remember of my school days, getting an F was the end of the world.  You were not just low on the totem pole--you were  somewhere way down under it. Of course I knew about As, Bs, Cs and Ds too.  And I figured that an F was so bad that whoever came...

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Off And Running

February 9 was the final date for candidates to qualify for the June 5 primary for both Republicans and Democrats.  As I told you earlier, I qualified for Montgomery County school board district 2 as a Republican. With five of the seven seats on this board up for...

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Live From Dadeville Elementary

Head east from Montgomery on I-85, go north on highway 49 at the Tuskegee/Franklin exit, take a right in Dadeville and pass the cemetery and you're at Dadeville elementary where principal Chris Dark watches over 641 kindergarten through sixth grade students. It was...

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The Joke Is On Me

Laughter is the best medicine.  At least that is what The Reader's Digest once told us.  And few enjoy a laugh any more than I do.  (Though I quickly admit that I sometimes get very intense and passionate, especially when I see some of the dumb things we do under the...

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Keep Those Cards & Letters Coming In

Since announcing last week that I am running for a seat on the Montgomery County school board this spring, I have definitely been humbled by the response I have received.  Email after email after email wished me success and encouragement.  School principals from here...

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It Just Flew All Over Me

One of mother's favorite expressions was, "It just flew all over me."  Interpretation--something got her attention and she was not happy about it. And from time to time, I must admit that things "fly all over me" as well.  A great example being this recent article in...

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A Gathering Of Passion

Saturday, Jan. 27 dawned wet, dreary and chilly across  Alabama.  The prefect morning to roll over and sleep in. But 500 teachers and one sleepy-eyed blogger converged on Homewood middle school in the Birmingham suburbs for a gathering of the Alabama National Board...

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Follow Up On Marion County Action On A-F

Earlier this week the Marion County school board said "enough is enough" and voted "no confidence" in the state's soon-to-be released A-F school report cards.  (Since then, both the Eufaula city board and Chambers County board have done the same thing and others are...

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A Double Shot Of Bad News

Some of you are old enough to recall the hit "Double shot of my baby's love" by the Swingin' Medallions.  This happened in 1966. Well, Alabama public education is about to be hit with a double shot of bad news.  Feb. 1 the public will find out which schools around the...

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Who Gave Us A-F Report Cards?

Now that the A-F school report cards are a reality (and tell us absolutely nothing that we did not already know) we need to remember how legislation becomes law. First you have a bill sponsor and co-sponsors. A-F was the brainchild of Rep.Terri Collins of Decatur in...

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Sometimes You Just Shake Your Head

It has been well-documented that for the past couple of years, the Alabama state board of education has not resembled a well-oiled machine.  Unfortunately it has spit and sputtered and lurched and bucked like Grandpa's old truck heading for its last roundup....

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A Really Neat Idea

I have long thought that "most wheels have been invented."  So I have spent many, many years looking for them.  In other words, what was someone doing that was worthy of being shared with others. My first job out of Auburn University, back about the time the earth...

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The Birthday I Have Been Dreading

75.  Seven decades and half of another one.  Half a century plus a quarter of a century.  Fourteen presidents.  It becomes official on Jan. 21. How in the world did this happen?  Why it was just a few days ago I had a full head of hair, wore pants with a much smaller...

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Snow School Today

My little front yard in Montgomery is a blanket of white this Wednesday morning as Mother Nature sprinkled between one to two inches of snow during the night.  And not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. Nothing is moving and  I've yet to see the youngsters...

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When The Light Comes On

Editor's note:  My friend Wendy Lang is a former teacher who lives in Decatur.  She works for the Alabama Education Association as a uniserv district director and is a weekly columnist for the Decatur Daily.  Here are some reflections from her. Educators often have a...

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This Time Montgomery Mayor Gets It Right

A few days ago we took Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange to task for his plan to turn to charter schools to solve Montgomery's education woes.  In our opinion, he is ignoring deep-rooted issues and is hoping for a "quick fix" instead. But earlier this past week, he came...

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UWA Increases Rural Impact

My friends at the University of West Alabama continue to carve their niche as the four-year school that has help for rural areas as a key mission. Now they have announced plans for offering its first doctoral program in the near future. Pending approval from its...

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Here Comes Terri Collins–Again

Bless her heart, here comes Representative Terri Collins, chair of the house education policy committee, with a bill to change how the state board of education operates.  Here is the AL.com article describing what Collins has in mind. In 2012 the legislature passed...

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Montgomery Finally Gets Some Good News

After 12 months of limbo, the Montgomery County school board has gotten court-authorized approval to hire an interim superintendent within 30 days and a permanent superintendent by May 30. The system went under state intervention in January 2017 and has not had a...

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Montgomery Mayor Just Doesn’t Get It

According to the Montgomery Advertiser Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange now has a vision of a series of charter schools being the salvation of education in the capital city.  (Before he goes too far down this trail he would be smart to check in with Washington DC and New...

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You Could See This One Coming

Given all the commotion and twists and turns, not to mention law suits and investigations, swirling around the state school board in the last 18-24 months, it was dog gone near inevitable that legislation would surface for the upcoming session designed to re-structure...

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A Boy Called Sully

We'll just call him Sully, because that's what everyone else calls him.  Except on those occasions when his mother, as mamas sometimes do, calls him by his given name of Sullivan. He is in the third-grade and is 110 percent boy.  He is not allergic to sweat or dirt,...

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What Is Education?

As I have wandered in the "education" wilderness for the past few years, I have asked over and over again, "What is education?"  What makes an "educated" person different from one who is "un-educated?"  If we ask 100 parents what benefit do they expect their children...

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2017 In My Rear View Mirror

Since media everywhere are re-counting the events of 2017, we might as well join in.  Maybe I should call it the "Redneck Review." It was another year of running the roads as I drove more than 19,000 miles visiting educators and schools, from Bridgeport to Mobile. ...

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A Large Helping Of Nonsense

We often come across some statement or an article that is basically unbelievable  Normally I just blow it off by saying, "Who in their right mind would fall for that?" But sometimes I happen upon something I just can't put aside.  Here is a fine example.  A recent...

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Time To Grade Legislators

Within a few weeks each public school in Alabama will receive a letter grade of A through F.  Why? Because the legislature passed a law in 2012 saying that we would.  The system that is about to be used is flawed and then some.  It is using unreliable data in ways it...

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The Season Of Giving

To me, Christmas has long seemed more about giving thanks than anything else.  It's when I look around and consider the true wealth and great fortune that have come my way.  It is definitely not about what gifts I might receive wrapped in bright paper and curly...

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The Year In Review

It is that time of the year when we take a deep breathe and look back at the last 12 months as we wait for the holidays to wind down and football bowl games to end. So what did you good reader find most interesting on this little blog as judged by the number of "hits"...

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Over The River And Through The Woods

Dog gone if I know how it happened, but I am about to take in the sights and sounds of my 75th Christmas.  (Like you I'm sure, I didn't believe it either until I scratched it all out on a piece of paper.)  And I look forward to sharing with family next week in North...

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Why Did Doug Jones Win?

Because his name was not Roy Moore. While it sounds overly simplistic, the primary reason Democrat Doug Jones stunned the political world in Alabama's Dec. 12 special election for U.S. Senate was because he was not the other guy. This is not to take anything away from...

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Score One For Sweet Water

I am a sucker for stories about out-of-the-way places.  So when I came across this excellent piece by Joseph Goodman of AL.com about tiny Sweet Water in Marengo County, I had to take a peek. The story was about this small 1A high school and their quest to win a state...

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Tis The Season

In "normal" times any article written in December with the head line above would be referring to the Christmas season.  But these are not "normal" times in Alabama as we are only two days away from ending the complete and absolute madness masquerading as a special...

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Again, Research Shows Vouchers Fall Short

One thing I learned long ago is that many lawmakers don't let facts get in their way when pushing a pet project.  This is especially true when it comes to school vouchers, such as those done through the Alabama Accountability Act, even though their merit has been...

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Christmas Cheer From Phil Campbell

There are many places in Alabama we fondly describe as "you can't get there from here."  One that certainly fits this observation is Phil Campbell, a community of about 1,000 kindly souls tucked into the southeast corner of Franklin County. I became familiar with Phil...

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The Most Amazing Person In Alabama

At this point you are probably expecting a drum roll.  Sorry to disappoint you.  Though I'm sure the person I am about to tell you about would appreciate it. My longtime friend Ron Gilbert is my nominee for the Most Amazing Person in Alabama. Ron who you ask? The guy...

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Auburn Flags Are Flying

This is not a non-partisan post.  When it comes to picking an allegiance on the football field (or the basketball court of in swimming or tic-tac-toe) I am orange and blue through and through. I have wonderful friends who graduated from the University of Alabama.  I...

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

It's the one day of the year when we are supposed to pause between visits with kin folks, swigs of sweet iced tea and bites of pecan pie to truly count our blessings.  To me this means truly reflecting for a while on how blessed most of us are and who plays a large...

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A Unique Perspective On The Iron Bowl

While the rest of the country considers this the week of Thanksgiving, in Alabama it is known as the week of the Iron Bowl.  My son Kevin, who writes for the weekly Mobile newspaper Lagniappe, came up with the following concerning this rivalry between Auburn and...

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Heading For The Hills

Ten minutes of watching any cable news channel these days will easily convince you that the world is quickly going to hell and we're all just bystanders.  The shrillness of the back and forth between the "good" guys and the "bad" guys is deafening.  Antics of...

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A Clear, Crisp Night In Georgiana

Tomorrow 90,000 people will cram into Jordan-Hare stadium on the Auburn University campus to watch Auburn play the University of Georgia.  It is the South's oldest football rivalry, going back to 1892 when Auburn won 10-0. It will be a spectacle  An orgy displaying...

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Montgomery Intervention. From Bad To Worse.

If anyone ever does a case study of how NOT to handle a local school system intervention, there probably is no better example than what has been going on with the Montgomery County system since last January. This has been a train wreck from the moment Mike Sentance...

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Politicians Say The Damnest Things

Reporter Mary Sell of the Decatur Daily did her usual good job of covering the meeting of the House Ways & Means Education committee meeting on Oct. 25.  Here is her article. One of the committee members is Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur.  So as good reporters do, Mary...

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Legislature Begins Budget Process

With the next regular legislative session less than three months away, the House Ways & Means Education committee started work today (Oct. 25).  It is a massive job to put together a $6+ billion budget.  And chairman Bill Poole and the other 13 committee members spend...

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