State school board member Mary Scott Hunter of Huntsville recently spoke to the Alabama Federation of Young Republicans according to this article.  But unfortunately, some of her remarks left a bad taste in the mouth of some educators.

For instance:

“On why Alabama schools historically underperform, Hunter said that our teachers are mostly Alabamians and they were educated in a system that is largely deficient. Are our teachers well prepared to teach their subject matter especially in STEM subjects?”

This brought a quick response from Charlotte Campbell of Gadsden, a retired teacher.  Campbell posted the article on Face Book

“I’m shocked and disappointed by our State Board representative. After receiving six years of education degrees from colleges in Alabama, I personally resent this comment.  Perhaps it is time for an older teacher to run for Alabama State Board member representing North Alabama,” Campbell said.

Other comments on this post were equally as harsh.

“She is a damn idiot,” said one.

“She is clueless,” said another.

“I’m horrified that she would think, much less express, such rhetoric,” chimed in someone else. 

More from the article:

“Hunter said that the workforce makes it difficult to attract companies here. We have two flag ship universities: Alabama and Auburn that are in the top 50, but not in the top 100. That is a problem. We have no flag ship education department in any of our colleges and that is a problem for us.”

Has Ms. Hunter ever heard of Mercedes, Hyundai, Honda, Airbus or Austal?  Does she not know HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, one of the world’s leading research groups is located in Huntsville and that one of the prinicpals, Rick Meyers. is from Selma and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1977?

And more:

“Hunter said that Massachusetts is a model for Alabama. Massachusetts is in the top four for education; but it only spends 25 to 30 percent more per student than Alabama; but not as much as Rhode Island and Vermont.”

Holding up Massachusetts as what Alabama can become makes absolutely no sense.  As we have said many times, Alabama is not Massachusetts and never will be.  To imply anything else is foolish and shows a lack of homework for one thing.  Kentucky, which has a better rated state school system than Alabama and does it for about the same expense per pupil would be a reasonable model.  Massachusetts is not.

Ms. Hunter needs to also redo her math about per pupil spending.  The latest official numbers I can find are from 2014.  Massachusetts spent $15,087 per student that year; Alabama spent $9.028.  That is not 25-30 percent more.  It is 67 percent more.  But then she may have been taught by one of those deficient Alabama math teachers.

I looked at spending per student in each of the 325 districts in Massachusetts.  They range from a low of $10,614 in Grafton to a high of $30,626 in Provincetown.  Twenty districts spend more than $20,000 a year.  By comparison, the Alabama range is from $7,967 in Blount County to $12,162 in Mountain Brook.

For a look at official per student spending numbers by state, go here.

The mission of the state school board is to be SUPPORTIVE of public schools.  This does not mean being blind to shortcomings.  But neither does it mean making statements that simply are not supported by facts.

The 730,000 students in our public schools deserve better.