These eight words are the essence of an in-depth report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama on Amendment One.
PARCA often takes a close look at issues impacting the Alabama political landscape. This time they not only reminded us again that we have the longest and most amended constitution in the whole wide world, they also reviewed how other states handle the governance of their public schools.
For instance, they point out that Alabama is currently one of 11 that elect their state school board. (If Amendment One is approved, we would join 12 states were the governor appoints the state board which, in turn, then appoints the state school superintendent.)
Basically there are four different models used by states to select school board members and state superintendent.
Model 1: Governor Appoints Board and Superintendent
Ten states fall in this category which gives the governor the most structured power in setting education priorities and ensuring they are implemented.
Model 2: Governor Appoints Board and Board Appoints Superintendent
The proposed amendment for Alabama most closely fits this model, which is used by 12 states presently.
Model 3: Governor Appoints Board while Superintendent is Elected
This is the method used by 11 states. However, since both the governor and superintendent answer to voters, these two office holders may disagree on how policy should be implemented.
Model 4: Board is Elected and Appoints the Superintendent
This is what Alabama now does. Only five other states (Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Utah) do it the same way. (Other states with elected boards use a different method to pick their superintendent.)
However, their is one striking difference in what is being proposed for Alabama and what other states do.
No other state gives the state senate the final say in who is appointed to the state board and who is hired as superintendent. This would make Alabama unique and greatly undercuts the argument that we should do what the majority of states now do since no other state has what Amendment One proposes.
Which in all probability is why PARCA concluded their report with the following statement:
“The selection process for state school boards and state superintendents is important, and there are reasonable arguments for both elections and appointments. Regardless, the selection process will not remove politics. The nature of the task — setting and implementing the state’s K—12 education policy — means state school boards will likely always be politicized to some degree.”
Yet. Yet. Yet. Proponents of Amendment One keep saying they want to take politics out of education.
But the truth is, Amendment One only adds another layer of politics. Today someone can contact their elected state board member to have input on education. But with Amendment One, they will need to call their state senator who will then contact a state board member since it is actually the senate calling all the shots.
Go here to read the entire PARCA report.