Some of us are old enough to remember when Aretha Franklin hit the charts in 1967 with her classic song, RESPECT.  This could well be the anthem of public school educators across Alabama these days when talking about the state legislature since there is little indication that policymakers treat education as a profession or educators as professionals.

Exhibit No. 1 is the Alabama Accountability Act passed in 2013 without input from any state educators.  Not the state superintendent, the elected state school board, any superintendents, principals or teachers.  In fact, leadership who ramrodded this bill through with little debate later boasted that they purposefully kept educators in the dark “because they might have opposed the bill.”

Time after time an educator has since told me that this was the single biggest slap in the face they’d ever received.  And the onslaught continues.  While members of the House and Senate say that want Alabama to have top-flight schools, they pass a bill that allows charter schools to use teachers who have not been certified and to give scholarships to private schools that are not accredited.

Too often the education community only learns of legislation impacting schools AFTER it has been introduced.  The result is way too much energy and resources being spent trying to REACT to legislation, instead of joining in a collaborative, PROACTIVE effort that all agree will truly help our public school students.

On May 13, the Alabama Teacher of the Year will be announced.  Here is information about the four finalists who are Minnette Wiggins of Hoover; Sarah Stroud of Tuscaloosa County; Jennifer Brown of Vestavia Hills and Levert Hedgemon, Jr of Tuscaloosa City.

They represent 94 years of education experience.  They ARE professionals.  As Aretha has sung for years, they deserve RESPECT.