Andy Carpenter is an educator in the Vestavia Hills city school system who, like many, is dumbfounded by Governor Bentley’s statement comparing the hiring of Michael Sentance of Massachusetts to be state school chief to hiring Nick Saban to coach the University of Alabama football team.

Here is what he posted on Facebook, which I use with his permission:

“Ok it is soap box time.

I saw, again, where Gov Bentley compared the hiring of Superintendent Sentance to Nick Saban at Alabama, and as part of that statement he said “and I know some Auburn people won’t like that.” This has ZERO to do with football, fandom or even Superintendent Sentance. I would have preferred someone else, but as an educator that cares about students I am 100% invested in him being successful. If he and his programs are successful, so are our children. Now that he’s on board, to steal a line from AU, I’m all in.

Look, I’m not an Alabama fan but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Saban and what he’s built at UA. But let’s follow Bentley’s logic for a minute.

Sentance comes from MA, which is at or near the top in NAEP test scores, to Alabama, that happens to be near the bottom. Let’s throw out a few numbers to see if we are willing to give “the Saban of education” what he needs to “win”.

Per pupil spending (2015)
MA– $ 14,515
AL– $ 8,755

Avg Teacher Salary (2015-16)
MA– $72, 334 (2nd)
AL– $49,781 (35th)

Ok so let’s get back to our Saban comparison. When he was hired, Coach Saban made HUGE demands, that some called unrealistic, in terms of spending and facilities upgrades. He got them and UA is on a streak of dominance that few have ever seen. That took money and commitment. As a state are we as willing to commit in the form of raising money through increased taxes or program cuts (for all of us, not just the sick and poor) as fans are to having a winning football program?

Imagine Bentley walked into Coach Saban’s office and said “Hey Nick, just want to stop by and tell you that we are so excited for what you’ve done for our state. Got some new financial information we need to discuss. We are going to let you pay your assistants around 30% less than the best programs and allow you to spend just a little over half on the program overall, you know in comparison with Ohio State and FSU. That said, we’re sure that you will keep the same high standards of winning championships as you did before.” I’d guess that he would leave the coach’s office under a barrage of profanity as Coach Saban picked up his phone and got Jimmy Sexton on the line to fire up the jet to get him somewhere that’s committed to his program.

So Gov Bentley, I assume you are saying that Sentance can expect the same kind of financial support from you, citizens and legislators in the state of Alabama that helped Coach Saban achieve the level of success he has at UA.

And before you think this is about more money for teachers, it absolutely isn’t. It is about level of commitment to the children of Alabama. The numbers above just show that we aren’t as committed as we like to say we are.”

Well done Andy.