Whether some realize it or not, there is a battle going on right now in Alabama for the soul of public education. Actually it has been going on for months, but has intensified greatly in recent days.
The line in the sand is plain.
On one side is an embattled state superintendent who should never have been hired last Aug. 11. The reasons are numerous and have been stated on this blog over and over again.
He is now grasping at every straw he can to save himself. He is canceling meetings with superintendents and visits to schools, yet he has time to huddle with leaders of theTea Party to scheme up another defense tactic. He now talks about how much he loves Alabama and how passionate he is about helping our schools–in direct contrast to what he has said for months.
He has created a highly toxic work environment at the state department of education and thrown staff under the bus. He has thrown fiscal responsiblity to the wind. He has failed to properly staff highly successful programs because he is far smarter than anyone in Alabama and knows more about education than anyone who ever walked our land.
On the other side is a majority of the state board of education who have first-hand knowledge of Sentance’s shortcomings. The board he does not communicated with and hides things from. The people who have been inundated by educators who can’t get info from Sentance’s state department and have watched him try to curtail programs like Alabama Reading Initiative, Career Tech and Alabama Math Science & Technology Initiative. The board that has quizzed him repeatedly about how he is spending money and gotten only vague answers.
It is now time for the people of Alabama to speak out. For the parents and teachers to take a stand against the harm being done daily to our public school system.
We have 730,000 children attending our public schools. Ninety percent of all the school age children in Alabama are in a public school.
Who will speak for them?
It is not the Tea Party who seem to only preach fear and work hard to divide us against one another. It is not the business interests who insist we follow false prophets telling us to “run schools like businesses.” It is not the coffee shop crowd who can not come to grips with the fact that the world is rapidly changing.
If our children are to have a voice, it must be you and I. The mothers and grandmothers who are sick and tired of seeing children used as the rope in a political tug of war. The principals who spend 60 hours a week to make their schools operate as well as possible The teachers who spend their own money on snacks so that when their kindergarten class takes a break, every little mouth has something to munch on.
The next state school board meeting is September 14. It is expected that the board will decide the fate of Mike Sentance that day.
Governor Kay Ivey, once a teacher herself, chairs the state school board by virtue of her office.
It is CRITICAL that voices speaking for our children reach out to her before September 14. She needs to know that the people of Alabama are watching and that we expect her to stand with our children–not with those whose track record is anti public education.
We can not lose this battle.
Write the governor right now. Speak for the children. Just a few paragraphs telling who you are and why you write.
And copy Steve Pelham, her chief of staff: (Steve.Pelham@governor.alabama. gov); as well as Christian Becraft, education liaison:
(I would love to know if you write and if you get a response from the governor’s office. firstname.lastname@example.org)