Several weeks ago we put together a brief questionnaire for all candidates running in the March 1 primary. The state Republican party sent questionnaires to all Republican candidates. Both candidates for the District Five seat are Democrats. I contacted them directly.
Here are the responses for Republican Carl Myrick of Baldwin County. He works in real estate and is a former teacher. His father serves on the Baldwin County school board.
Because of short falls in the state General Fund budget, there is continuing talk of combing the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund. Do you think these funds should remain separate or be combined?
The two funds should remain separate. The Education Trust Fund is already being raided by the legislature so combining the two funds will just lead to public education suffering from a “short fall” every year.
In 2013 the legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act. Reports from the state revenue department show that as of Dec. 31, 2015, has now diverted $66 million from the Education Trust Fund to be used for scholarships to private schools. At least 1,000 scholarships have gone to students who were already attending private schools. Do you think the Accountability Act is working as it was supposed to? Do you feel that it has helped students in your district?
It is a waste of public education funds. $66 million (when handled correctly) could fix a number of issues across our state’s education system rather than pass the money off to private schools that have the ability to generate their own revenue through tuition fees. Private schools also aren’t required to provide the same services as a public school (special education, cafeteria, school buses, certified teachers, etc.) I do not feel that it has helped enough students in my district to justify the exorbitant cost of the act as a whole.
Recently the draft of a bill known as the Rewarding Advancement in Instruction and Student Excellence (RAISE) Act of 2016 became public. Educators across Alabama have expressed their opposition to this bill. Do you oppose it or support it?
I oppose the RAISE Act. Most of what I read in the act was harmful to educators and sounded nothing like a “raise” at all. Teachers deserve a raise in salary without political strings attached to it.
Educators were not asked for input on either the Alabama Accountability Act, nor the RAISE Act. Do you believe the legislature should formulate education policy without input from Alabama educators?
Educators need to provide input on new legislation and know how it applies to the classroom setting. Many legislators have no idea how the policies will actually be implemented or how costly they could become over time due to ineffectiveness.
Do you think education is a profession and do you consider teachers to be professionals?
As a son of two former teachers, as well as a former teacher myself, I know that teachers are professionals because I worked alongside many professionals in my career. The many obstacles a teacher faces on a daily basis require a consistent professional demeanor and there are normally harsh punishments for teachers who act unprofessionally.
What past involvement in public education do you think most qualifies you for a seat on the state board of education?
I have the most recent teaching experience and training in the public education setting of all the candidates in this race. I believe it is important for one to remember what it was like “in the trenches” because the policies created directly impact classroom teachers. I also have recent post graduate education that focused heavily on the legal and financial aspects of running a school system. The education system in Alabama desperately needs practical knowledge from the classroom experience to help guide future policies and avoid wasteful legislation from plaguing tax payers for years to come.
Did you attend public school for your K-12 education?
I attended public school for my entire K-12 education, all in District 1.