When Governor Bentley said in early November that “education sucks” he set off a fire storm in the education community. And the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers immediately began trying to arrange an audience with him.
President Marrianne Hayward contacted the governor’s office and got a meeting for Dec. 20. But was told that the governor might not be able to be there.
So a delegation from Jefferson County was in Montgomery on Dec. 20. In addition to Hayward, there was a member of the county school board, a retired teacher, an elementary teacher, a high school teacher, a special education classroom aide, an office assistant, a custodian, a central office employee and a parent.
Birmingham TV station WTVM covered the trip.
In recognition of the governor’s statement, the group took along a box of suckers, with a card attached to each saying, Suck it up and apologize to Alabama students and public school employees.
They met with the governor’s education liaison and gave her a letter to the governor that read in part, “Although we find that extremely unprofessional comment offensive, we want you to see the people you have insulted. Instead of hurling insults back, we would like to sit and talk about solutions.
Instead of demonizing public school employees let’s come together and talk about solutions. School employees have been noticeably absent from all discussions about education in Alabama and it’s time to bring them to the table.”
The letter pointed out that education is just one part of a community and can not be isolated and expected to lift a community all by itself.
Several in the group expressed their concerns. One talked about how the conditions in education are causing more and more teachers to retire early. The parent said that one of her children received a scholarship to an out-of-stater school which to her means our schools don’t “suck.” The special ed aide talked about issues she faces daily with her students and that she brings home a check each month for $1,200 for her efforts.
The governor’s staffer told the visitors hat protocol is that they first have to see someone else before they can see the governor. Hayward is now waiting to see if another meeting, this time with the governor himself, is arranged.