We all remember Matt Brown, state school board member from Baldwin County. The one who was appointed to the board by Governor Bentley in spite of the fact he never attended public school. The one who worked so hard in the spring of 2015 to make sure a tax vote to support one of the fastest growing school systems in the nation failed. The one who ran for his seat earlier this year only to lose to someone he outspent 17-1. The one who couldn’t even carry his home county in the runoff election.
Well, he has now written an article for AL.com defending his vote for Michael Sentence for state superintendent. Unfortunately for Brown, all he has really done is show how little due diligence he did prior to voting.
Brown tries to defend Sentance’s lack of actual experience as a teacher, principal or local school superintendent by referencing Baldwin County’s own Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. He says that even though Cook was never a computer programmer, he is well qualified to have his present position.
Listen to Brown.
“Though State Superintendent of Education is the technical title for the position, the term CEO might be better suited. The State Superintendent of Education provides general administrative oversight for Alabama’s $6.6 billion public education system.
The system employs 91,000 superintendents, principals, teachers, and support staff and is charged with the education of over 730,000 students. In light of the position’s executive nature, is it reasonable to disqualify someone from serving as the State Superintendent of Education simply because they do not have K-12 teaching experience?”
First, the state superintendent of education DOES NOT oversee a budget of $6.6. As Brown should have learned by now, the state superintendent deals with only K-12 education. The figure he states is for all education in the state, K 12, community colleges and higher education. The K 12 budget is about $4 billion.
And since local superintendents, principals, teachers and support staff work for local school systems, they ARE NOT employed by the state department of education.
Since Sentance’s resume’ does not indicate that he has ever been an administrator at any level of education, how can Brown say he is the person for what he calls the job of a CEO? Actually he unwittingly makes the very point so many educators have made in their concern about the selection of Sentence.
“It is difficult to imagine someone who is more qualified than Michael Sentance to serve as Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education. Sentance held the equivalent position in Massachusetts, a state with one of the top education programs in the country.”
Wrong again. Sentence served as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts from July 1995-June 1996. This is an appointed position by the governor of that state, it has no administrative responsibilities for the day to day operation of state schools. Instead, that duty falls to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. For Brown to state that the position Sentence held for one year in Massachusetts 20 years ago is the same as being state superintendent in Alabama is incorrect and only shows how little effort Brown put into vetting his candidate.
“No candidate was more qualified for the position than Michael Sentance.”
There are 13 school systems in Brown’s district. If Sentence was the most qualified, why did none of the superintendents of these 13 systems think so? I know that Brown heard from a number of them. They did not tell him to support Sentence.
If he is the most qualified, why have nearly 4,000 people across Alabama signed this petition opposing his selection?
Mr. Brown would be wise to recall the line from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Because it is a lost cause for him to try and convince the state that in this case, he is right and educators are wrong.