Last week two bills popped up on the radar screen that each called for electing a State Superintendent of Education, instead of having this person hired by the State Board of Education.
One is sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney of Shelby County, the other by Rep. Ronald Shedd of Cullman County. The bills are very similar. However, one does not list any qualifications for someone to seek this office and it also says, “The authority and duties of the Superintendent of Education shall be determined by the Legislature.”
That’s right. They do not have to have any experience in education and will answer to a body that also is very limited in education experience. This seems as logical as taking your car to a chiropractor for an oil change.
But equally as concerning is did these bill sponsors and co-sponsors ever think about who will fund campaigns for state superintendent? In 2014 the group, StudentsFirst of Sacramento, CA spent $200,000 on Alabama legislative races. (We do not know where this money initially came from as StudentsFirst does not disclose their donors.) Also in 2014, the Alabama Federation for Children spent $350,000 trying to elect Alabama House and Senate members. And we do know that ALL of this money came from millionaires in Arkansas, California and Michigan.
AFC also recently got donations of $100,000 from millionaires in Arkansas and Michigan to spend on state school board races.
So it is hardly unreasonable to think that a statewide race for superintendent would attract a great deal of money from outside Alabama. Do we really want someone from California or Michigan deciding who our state superintendent will be? I find it amazing that the members of the GOP in support of this legislation are willing to be a part of such a scheme.
Georgia elects their state superintendent. Some 15 candidates ran for this office in 2014. They spent at least $1.2 million on their campaigns. One of the candidates in the general election had never been an educator. And we want to be like them?
Apparently representatives Mooney and Shedd, along with co-sponsors Corey Harbison, Ed Henry, Issac Whorton, Tommy Hanes, David Standridge, Becky Nordgren, Allen Farley, Richie Whorton and Danny Crawford think so.