Education is on the ballot this year in Alabama and Alabama Farmers Federation, along with other grassroots organizations, has launched the “Yes for the Best Education” campaign to help Gov. Kay Ivey realize her vision for stable and effective leadership in education.
“Amendment 1 offers voters an opportunity to take the first step to improving public schools,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell, who chairs the campaign. “Voters recognize that public K-12 schools are undeniably at the bottom of almost every national ranking. At the same time, instability has become the norm at the top of the Alabama State Department of Education, which has seen five state superintendents in the last four years.
“Amendment 1 provides voters a choice of keeping politicians in charge of the State School Board or replacing them with nine new commission members who are term limited,” he added. “The first step to improvement is getting politicians off the State School Board and bringing in new leadership to take on the enormous task of improving Alabama’s schools.”
Amendment 1 provides clear instructions on how to begin the turnaround Alabama’s schoolchildren deserve. Instead of campaigning for board seats, the nine Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education members will be appointed by the governor and approved by the Alabama Senate. The new members will serve six-year terms and can serve no more than two consecutive terms. This is a stark contrast to the current system, where one politician has served on the State School Board for over 25 years. The new members also must reflect the diversity of Alabama’s public schoolchildren. That means rural communities and minorities are assured representation.
Amendment 1 lays out in writing the requirements for the job. The new commission members are required to develop programs for teacher certification, professional development, student assessment and accountability. Amendment 1 specifically requires the new members to adopt education standards to replace Common Core.
Alabama is just one of seven states that still hold elections for State School Board. If Amendment 1 is approved by voters, local school boards will still control their districts and decision-making.
“In Alabama, we usually think the words ‘nationally ranked’ mean we are near the top. Unfortunately, in education, we also know what the view from the bottom looks like,” Parnell noted. “Amendment 1 is the first step to climbing the ladder of educational excellence.”
In her 2020 State of the State address to the people of Alabama and the Legislature, Gov. Ivey made a clear case for Amendment 1.
“Unfortunately, we’ve gotten all-too-complacent to being at or near the bottom of national education rankings. This isn’t the fault of our hard-working teachers, principals or local superintendents. Folks, it starts at the top,” she said. “For us to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s opportunities, it is time we get serious. It’s time for creativity. It’s time for accountability. It’s time for stability. It’s time to vote ‘YES’ for Amendment 1 on March 3.”