Try as they might, the State Board of Education can’t seem to avoid being questioned when they conduct a state superintendent search. The board selected Eric Mackey, executive director of the School Superintendents of Alabama, on April 20. The vote was 5-4.
Mackey joined the association in July, 2010 after serving eight years as the Jacksonville, AL city system superintendent, one of the state’s smallest systems with two schools and 1,561 students.
He was one of three finalists. Others were Kathy Murphy, Hoover city superintendent and Craig Pouncey, Jefferson County superintendent and former chief of staff for state superintendent Tommy Bice.
Several media outlets have raised questions about how much political contributions may have influenced the process, did Governor Ivey ignore her own executive order prohibiting appointing registered lobbyists to serve on state boards and commissions and why was board member Mary Scott Hunter allowed to participate since she is being sued by Pouncey for supposed misconduct during the 2016 superintenent search. Trial date is set for Dec. 10.
Mackey has been a registered lobbyist while working for the superintendent’s group. This is common practice for association executives.
Having been involved in politics since forever and knowing that one of the first rules is to always FOLLOW THE MONEY, I spent time on the Secretary of State’s website looking at financial info.
I discovered that the votes for Mackey and Pouncey were in stark contrast when it came to campaign contributions from the Business Council of Alabama.
Those voting for Pouncey were Jackie Zeigler, Stephanie Bell, Ella Bell and Yvette Richardson. None of them have ever received campaign dollars from BCA. In fact, in 2016 BCA gave Zeigler’s opponent $149,000 and Bell’s challenger $107,255.
On the other side of the coin, of the five votes for Mackey, four of them have received a collective $284,230 from BCA since 2014. They were Governor Ivey and board members Jeff Newman, Cynthia McCarty and Mary Scott Hunter. (Betty Peters was the fifth vote for Mackey and has not gotten BCA support. In fact, they spent $70,000 on her opponent in 2014.)
BCA is not a friend of public education. They run something called the Business Education Alliance. Just look at their website to see what they promote. Charter schools, school choice, the Alabama Accountability Act, run schools like a business, etc. No public school advocates I know support such an agenda. They also endorsed Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, arguably the most unquailed person ever appoint4ed to this position.
In the last four years BCA has spent $585,485 on state school board races. This DWARFS anyone else. I learned long ago when it comes to funding political campaigns, LITTLE MONEY GIVES, BIG MONEY INVESTS.
Is BCA looking for a return on their investment? I don’t know. Did BCA money play a part in the selection of a new superintendent? I can’t answer that either.
All we know for certain is what the numbers are.