While it sounds unbelievable, Alabama law requires a local school superintendent be more qualified than the state superintendent.  No kidding.

Here is Alabama code section 16-4-1 pertaining to state superintendent qualifications.

As the chief executive officer of the State Department of Education there shall be a State Superintendent of Education, who shall be appointed by the State Board of Education and shall serve at the pleasure of the State Board of Education; provided, however that the State Board of Education may enter into a contract with the State Superintendent of Education for his services for a period not to exceed four years.

The Superintendent of Education shall be a person of good moral character, with academic and professional education equivalent to graduation from a standard university or college, who is knowledgeable in school administration and has training and experience sufficient to qualify him to perform the duties of his office.

And here is section 16-9-2 pertaining to local superintendents.

(a) The county superintendent of education shall be chosen for his general fitness and character and shall be a person of recognized ability as a school administrator. No person shall be eligible for appointment by any county board of education or for any political party nomination, or for election to the office of county superintendent of education unless such person:

(1) Holds an Alabama certificate in administration and supervision based upon requirements established by the State Board of Education for such certificate;

(2) Has had not less than five years of experience in public school work at the time he assumes office;

(3) Submits proof to the State Superintendent of Education of three years of successful educational experience as a teacher, principal, supervisor, superintendent, educational administrator or instructor in school administration during the five years next preceding his appointment or election;

(4) Submits proof to the county board of education that he holds a degree from a recognized four-year college or university; and

(5) If such person is to be appointed by the county board of education, submits proof to the county board that he is knowledgeable in school administration.

Senator Gerald Dial of Clay County and a former educator, thinks this makes little sense.  And it is hard to disagree with him.  So he is sponsoring SB 6 that says that sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the local superintendent code section above be added to the necessary qualifications for state superintendent.

(Editor’s note: The State Board of Education’s advertisement for state school chief last summer also included under REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS other specifications.  Among them: Knowledge of educational policy development and implementation in a large-scale system; Experience in working with elected or appointed educational boards; Experience in successfully managing a large organization as a superintendent or other educational leader and Experience in administering large budgets.  It can be argued that the person they hired met none of these.)

Senator Dial’s bill meets “Alabama values.”