Jenny Moon is a retired teacher in Gadsden who is sick and tired of what she sees happening to education in Alabama. She is especially disgusted with all the commotion about hiring Michael Sentence of Massachusetts to head our state schools. “I still can’t believe how the state board just ignored the voices of teachers, principals and superintendents,” she says. “I thought the board was supposed to represent schools and educators but apparently I was wrong.”
And though she doesn’t know Senator Gerald Dial and doesn’t live in his district, she sent him an email to tell him that she appreciates the fact he has spoken up about what is going on.
To her surprise, she got a note back from Senator Dial today and the copy of an email he sent to all state school board members.
Dear Board Member,
It is with great respect that I ask you to postpone finalizing the hiring of Mr. Sentance. It has become public that he has had his law license suspended among other concerning issues. I feel that it would be in the best interest of our public education system if the Board would take the time to allow the investigative process the time necessary to address the issues.
To complete his hiring would not be prudent and potentially very costly to our state.
Thank you in advance for making sure that integrity is a prerequisite for all of our education faculty and students.
As you may recall, Senator Dial recently asked Attorney General Luther Strange to investigate circumstances of how an anonymous smear sheet directed against Jefferson County superintendent Craig Pouncey found its way to the Ethics Commission. Also to be answered is how did someone access the computer system at the state department of education in order to retrieve emails from 2009 that were part of the smear packet.
The selection process so far has left way too many unanswered questions. At issue is the largest single budget this state has, $4 billion for K 12 schools as well as a seat on the Teachers Retirement System that oversees pension funds for 88,000 retired educators. The survey we posted last night shows that more than two-thirds of 1,000 respondents have lost faith in the state board.
Citizens feel this board has betrayed its solemn duty to be diligent in its obligations to always put the welfare of the 740,000 children in our public schools as priority one. Instead, they believe this selection process has become too mired in activities intended to advance the cause of political futures.
Once squandered, trust is extremely hard to regain. Senator Dial has been around a long time. He knows Alabama and its politics as well as anyone. The state school board would be wise to listen to his counsel.