Mike Sentance just doesn’t get it.

He apparently does not know that the ONLY reason for the state department of education to exist is to do what it can, in whatever way, to help improve local schools and local classrooms and local teachers and their students.

Instead, he seems intent on making life as miserable for local school systems and local superintendents as possible as if this will somehow make himself, who came all the way from Massachusetts to deliver us from our own ignorance, seem all the more superior.

The latest example of his total detachment from education reality came late Friday, April 21, when the state department released a storehouse of graduation data to the press–before they bothered to share with local school systems.  In particular, this article on AL.com stirred a firestorm.

I immediately began hearing from superintendents throughout the state.  (None of them faulted the article or AL.com for running it.  However, they had REAL problems with the state department releasing data this important without first giving local systems a heads up so they could double-check numbers and be prepared to deal with their own local media.)

Some superintendents are furious, while many are resigned to the fact that so long as the state school board keeps Sentance is state superintendent, this kind of behavior and disrespect from him and the state department will be par for the course.

Here are the remarks of one superintendent I know quite well.

“I read the article Saturday afternoon.  Had NO idea this data was going to be released.  NO chance to verify it.   Immediately scheduled an 8:00 am meeting Monday morning with my technology coordinator, special education, and curriculum folks.  We have some real concerns with the validity of the data–especially special education.

We have always had the opportunity to compare our graduation data analysis with the SDE data before release to the public.  This allows
differences to be reported and final decisions reached.  Systems have the opportunity to prepare responses to local papers and other community members.

Had a call Saturday night from the editor of the local newspaper asking for a comment. Couldn’t comment because I had not seen the data.  Embarrassing and shows a lack of respect and compassion for our school systems.  The same thing happened with the A-F data released in December.  We had to read about it in an article on ALcom.

Tired of lack of support from the state department of education and the leadership void created with the hiring of Mike Sentance.  Tired of the lack of meaningful input on any “big ticket” decision impacting education in Alabama.  Weary of fighting the constant attack on public education by the Business Council, legislature and former governor.

Tired and weary of the wasted time and energy dealing with a state board that seems to value politics over attacking the real problems we face in educating Alabama public school students.

Frustrated with trying to communicate with and get support from a state department that has become so dysfunctional that most of us have just given up.

Had a 29 year veteran teacher walk in Friday and begin to complete his retirement papers. A good teacher.  Son of a teacher, principal and superintendent.  Simply said, “We have become targets for everyone’s perceived failures.  No respect for our profession.”  The sad part is, I didn’t even try to talk him out of it.

The proration years (2009-2011) were tough, but there was HOPE things would get better.  Most educators today are frustrated, angry, tired and see little hope of better days.  There will be a mass exodus over the next three years in a profession that has become increasingly more difficult to get high quality young people.

What would you say to your son/daughter or grandchildren who said,” I think I want to become a teacher”.

Obvious to me there is a coordinated effort to trash public education led by  the Business Council of Alabama, board member Mary Scott Hunter, Rep. Terri Collins, Senator Del Marsh and supported by Mike Sentance to convert more public dollars to private education, vouchers and charters.

The groups could not accomplish continuing privatization of education without someone leading the SDE who is clueless to the real needs of Alabama students. Any other candidate would not have participated in this charade.  Sentance fits their desired qualifications perfectly.