Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, introduced legislation this week to transition the Alabama State Board of Education from elected district representatives to a commission appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement supporting the move after speaking directly to each school board member and the state superintendent.
“Since day one, I have made it abundantly clear to the people of Alabama, our students and educators across the state that improving our education system is a top priority of mine as governor. We can all agree that Alabama students should be given the opportunity for a quality education. Unfortunately, that is not happening today,” Ivey said. “We have been listed at the bottom of just about every education ranking you can find. We need education leaders and a structure that works in the best interest of our students.
With this bold change, we will establish accountability and stability at the top, improving educational outcomes for all students across the state,” she continued. “Our students and teachers deserve much more from our educational system, and this constitutional amendment is a way forward for Alabama’s future.We must refuse to be complacent with our poor educational rankings. I strongly urge members of the Alabama Legislature and people across the state to join me in supporting this bill.”
SB 397 would call for a statewide referendum on March 3, 2020, the date of Alabama presidential primary elections. If approved, the State Board of Education would be renamed the Alabama Commissionon Elementary and Secondary Education and the state superintendent would become the secretary of elementary and secondary education.
The nine-member commission would include at least one member from each Alabama congressional district. Members would serve no more than two consecutive six-year terms. The amendment requires the governor to ensure the commission reflects the geographical, gender,and racial diversity of students enrolled in public K-12 education in the state.
The commission would be charged with adopting “course of study standards that ensure nationwide consistency and the seamless transfer of students from within and outside of the state, in lieu of common core.” Additionally, the constitutional amendment charges the commission with adoptingeducator certification and professional development programs as well as comprehensive assessment and accountability systems.
A separate bill, SB 398, would require the governor to consult with the minority caucuses of the Alabama Legislature when appointing minority members to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.
SB 397 has 21 cosponsors. It has been assigned to the Senate Education Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence.