Response to the survey we posted at 7:30 p.m. July 31 has been remarkable. In less than 15 hours (as of noon Aug. 1) more than 700 people responded, 1,391 viewed the post on this blog, 8,016 people were reached on Facebook and the post was shared 68 times on FB. (It took nearly five days to hit 700 responses back in March.) This can only be attributed to a very heightened sense of frustration among Alabama public school educators.
Respondents are strongly invested in public education as 62 percent are teachers, 71 percent work for a school system and 61 percent have children or grandchildren in public schools. So this response clearly shows what educators think of the present situation. And in my opinion, they are far more qualified to offer advice than some who are quick to write an op-ed touting Sentance.
For instance a common refrain of the non-education writers is that Mike Sentance has brought “education reform” to Alabama. Yet 91 percent of respondents say this is a myth.
Sentance has never had the support of the education community. Last December 92 percent of respondents said he should not have been hired. This has now risen to 96 percent. And only two percent say he was the right choice last August. It is IMPOSSIBLE to bring someone back from the dead who has a two percent approval rating.
Other measures are equally damning. Some 81 percent say Sentance is doing a worse job than they thought he would, 90 percent say Alabama education is going in the wrong direction under his leadership, 79 percent say we are worse off now than a year ago and 72 percent say we will be in even poorer shape in 12 months.
And as to be expected, the state school board is now held in almost as much disdain as Sentance. Last March 66 percent of respondents gave the board letter grades of D or F. That has now jumped to 83 percent. This is a very significant increase and shows that Sentance is taking the board right down the tubes with him.
After months of news about the selection process last summer being manipulated, about an internal education department investigation saying department employees and one school board member worked in concert to discredit a superintendent applicant, a number of meetings by a legislative committee looking into wrong doing during the selection process, on-going news about large no-bid contracts for consultants and huge salaries for what seems an endless stream of administrative hires. it is no wonder that people are upset and blame the state board. After all, they hired Sentance.
And just how much this is all washing over to board members is evident in the lack of support for the two board members who voted for Sentance last August and continue to stand by him. Mary Scott Hunter is one. She is now running for Lt. Governor. When survey takers were asked if they would vote for Hunter, State Senator Rusty Glover or Representative Will Ainsworth (other announced Republican candidates), ony 2.68 percent chose Hunter. Glover got 16.48 and Ainsworth 16.90. Some 64 percent had no choice.
Betty Peters from District 2 is the other steadfast Sentance supporter. Her seat is up for election in 2018. At this moment only 1.55 percent say they will vote to re-elect her, while 84.53 percent say they will not.
In a nutshell, there is a tremendous “crisis of confidence” in those we expect to show leadership. In fact, 88 percent of respondents say so.
Given all of this, no one should be surprised that 77 percent say Sentance should be terminated ASAP.
Sentance’s goose is cooked. But the question is, can the state school board smell it?