As far as I know, Mike Sentance is a good and decent man. But his short tenure as state school superintendent has been one mis-step after another.
He started out under the cloud of a very flawed search process that has now lead to legal action against four state department employees and one school board member. Then he got chummy with the governor (the same one facing impeachment) and a state representative and forgot that he actually works for the state board of education.
Along the way he made a grave announcement at a board meeting about a Federal investigation about graduation rates–but had no specifics. But before he mentioned this to the board, he told the state representative that the Mobile County system was under investigation. She told a reporter who wrote about it. All of which was news to the superintendent of Mobile County.
And at a recent board meeting he said that the state department was looking at intervening in the Mobile system. Again, this was news to their superintendent. And he quickly tried to “walk back” his mis-statement, but it was too little, too late.
He got a letter in early January from the Feds saying that they had concerns about whether of not the ACT Aspire test is properly aligned with Alabama standards. The following week the annual list of “failing schools” was released by the state department, based on a test that may not be reliable. So suddenly 75 schools across the state were labeled as “failing” and instead of coming to their rescue and pointing out the concerns of the Feds, he left these schools dangling in the wind and under attack from media.
He has questioned programs such as Science in Motion, Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative and Career Tech Education. He has criticized Alabama teachers and teacher prep programs.
He has made plans to take over part of the Montgomery County school system and spent more than $1.2 million on contracts to implement this program. And now he tells us he plans to give principals of the 27 poorest performing schools in Montgomery 10 percent raises.
Given this record, it comes as no surprise that in our most recent on-line survey, 44.3 percent said Mike Sentance should be terminated ASAP while 35.5 percent said he should be put on three months probation. More than 98 percent believe he is not qualified to be state superintendent and 85 percent give him a letter grade of D or F.
I gets phone calls, blog comments and emails every day from concerned citizens and educators asking what they can do. My answer is always the same, “The buck stops with the state school board. His future, and more importantly the future of 730,000 public school students, is in their hands.”
The are eight elected members of the state board. All are paid by Alabama taxpayers. They work for you. If you have concerns, contact them.
Jackie Zeigler firstname.lastname@example.org
Betty Peters email@example.com
Stephanie Bell firstname.lastname@example.org
Ella Bell email@example.com
Yvette Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Newman email@example.com
Cynthia McCarty firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Scott Hunter email@example.com