These comments from a long time Alabama school superintendent show total lack of faith in the RAISE Act of 2016.

Initially we understood certain legislators planned to revisit tenure reform, despite our district stating this was much less a priority than things such as divisors, transportation, OCE, etc.  We also understood that after nine years of budget crisis, educators may get a substantial raise.

Unfortunately, the bill created to address these issues is merely disguised as tenure reform coupled with a raise, is a “Trojan Horse” for reimplementation of the failed No Child Left Behind.  It will divert state funding for critical needs and require local systems to absorb unfunded mandates. 

One of the loudest complaints of parents has been the emphasis placed on testing under No Child Left Behind.  Today we are moving to use data to simply guide instruction.  But RAISE will be “NCLB on steroids” as teacher pay will be determined by test scores.  This will lead to teaching to the test, the last thing that should happen in a classroom.

For teachers of nonstate assessed subject areas, another governing board will be created which will take additional autonomy away from the State Board of Education.  Teachers will also be evaluated by parent surveys–some of whom do not appreciate a demanding teacher.  The result?  Teachers may focus more on being popular than anything else.

Estimates are that the Alabama Longitudinal Data System Center will cost at least $30 million.  Again, funding diverted from more critical needs.

This bill will create two separate salary schedules.  New teachers will no long receive additional pay depending on years of service.  Advanced degrees will no longer increase a teacher’s salary.  There will be little to no incentive to slow turnover rates within a school or system.

In the last few years we watched the Alabama Accountability Act pass under very strange circumstances.  A bill that has now diverted $66 million from the Education Trust Fund while failing to do what we were told it would do–help failing schools.  We acquiesced in accepting an ambiguous A-F school report card, even while it proved of little value in other states.

We accepted a charter school bill that will take funds away from under-funded public schools.  We recently learned that charter school lobbyists manipulated the last appropriations bill.

And now we’re faced with RAISE.  We must stand together on this issue and carry our case to those who wish to make ill-advised changes to public education without input from professional educators.