Bless her heart, here comes Representative Terri Collins, chair of the house education policy committee, with a bill to change how the state board of education operates. Here is the AL.com article describing what Collins has in mind.
In 2012 the legislature passed the School Board Governance Improvement Act that requires all local school board members be trained by the Alabama Association of School Boards. Collins wants to amend the 2012 bill so that members of the state board are included in training.
While this seems reasonable at first glance, thinking that the training a local school board member of a system with 2,000 students needs is comparable to a board member of a system with 730,000 students is hardly apples to apples. I have probably attended more state board and local board meetings than Collins has. One thing that always strikes me is how totally different the items being discussed by each one are from what the other deals with.
So basically this is little more than window dressing.
Presently there are eight elected members of the state board. The governor is a voting board member by virtue of their office. The Collins’ bill makes no changes to this alignment. However, it does add two teachers and two high school students as non-voting members of the board. The teachers would be the two most recent Alabama Teachers of the Year, while the students would be selected by the Boys State and Girls State programs.
I don’t understand how adding four non-voting members to this body makes it more efficient or better. And one can’t help but be struck by the irony of this suggestion in light of Collins’ own record of ignoring input from educators. She is the sponsor of the much-maligned A-F school report card legislation. A committee of some of the state’s top educators worked with Collins for two years to develop an equitable formula to be used to grade schools. Finally, realizing that she could not be pleased, the committee gave up.
Another provision of the bill calls forth similar irony. The bill states: “That each member of a local board of education shall actively promote public support for the school system and each member of the state board or a local board of education shall actively promote a sound statewide system of public education, and shall endorse ideas, initiative, and program that are designed to improve the quality of public education for all students.”
Given her track record of supporting the Alabama Accountability Act, A-F report cards, charter schools, school choice, etc., it’s unlikely you can find a single public school educator in the state who thinks Collins is on their side. And for someone like this to call for support of public schools in legislation is just more window dressing.
The final eye-opener in the Collins’ bill is the requirement that the state superintendent will employ someone to act as a liaison between the superintendent and the state board.
The state board appoints the superintendent, but Collins thinks they should not have direct access to the person they employ?
I spent several years as executive director of the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission in Dothan. There were 35 board members, most of them local elected officials. And I can only imagine the hornet’s nest I would have stirred by suggesting that I needed to hire someone to interact with them on my behalf. That if they needed me, they would need to go through this person.
That would have been as dumb of an idea as the one Rep. Collins proposes.