While I was hopeful that Amendment One would fail, never did I imagine that it’s defeat would be so overwhelming. A 10 point defeat of 55-45 is considered decisive. But a 50 point shellacking of 75-25 like the voters gave to Amendment One is virtually unheard of.
This measure was defeated in all 67 counties. Twenty-two counties had a NO vote of 80 percent or more. In Lamar and Marion counties, the margin was 90-10. The “best” counties for a YES vote were Madison (68 percent NO), Autauga (67 percent NO) and Montgomery (66 percent NO). Senate majority leader Del Marsh was sponsor of the bill. He is from Calhoun County. The vote there was 75 percent NO and 25 percent YES.
This legislation was passed by the senate 30-0. Twenty-five Republicans and five Democrats voted for it. There is little doubt that future opponents of these senators will remind voters of this vote.
Politicians don’t like rejection. The vote on Amendment One was not just rejection, it was humiliation. And you have to wonder how quickly these same senators will sign on to Del Marsh’s next education bill.
One of the most baffling things of this whole episode was the news release below put out by the Alabama Association of School Boards on the day Marsh introduced his Amendment One legislation in 2019.
“FOR RELEASE: May 10, 2019
The AASB Board of Directors voted to endorse Gov. Ivey’s proposed constitutional amendment regarding K-12 educational governance after thoughtful consideration of the bold initiative. Fundamentally, we believe it is important the people of Alabama have an opportunity to vote on this dramatic change and that such change is needed to drive significant, sustained improvement in our schools across the state.
There are great things happening in Alabama schools every day. We want to make sure these great things are reaching every student and every corner of the state. Episodic success will not help Alabama compete with other states. Our support for this proposal is not a personal attack or driven by a particular issue. It is based in a profound desire to increase the rigor and results for our students.
AASB has no illusion that a change in governance will be a panacea for the challenges facing Alabama public schools. We do believe a governance change could be the pivotal turning point and create the momentum for increasing education funding and addressing other issues impacting school performance such as poverty, declining populations in rural communities and equitable access.
School boards believe Alabama is ready for change.”
Given the dismal track record of the Republican supermajority since 2010 in passing education bills that have clearly been aimed at harming public education, how in the world does a group that is supposed to “represent” education endorse a measure that would give the state senate the final say in who is on an appointed school board and who is hired to be state superintendent?
For certain, if I were still a member of the Montgomery County school board, I would be asking some questions.