Understanding the Amendments: Amendment Four, Removing Segregation Language

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WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Dr. Jess Brown starts his explanation of Amendment Four with these words, "If it passes or if it fails, I don't think public school services in Alabama will change very much."

Amendment Four seems largely symbolic.  

It exists in a gray area, though its purpose stems from a time when issues were often simplified to black and white.

Dr. Brown explains, "It removes racist language from our state constitution.  Language that mandated, or attempted to mandate, that public schools in Alabama would be racially segregated."

Schools were integrated long ago, after the language was deemed unconstitutional by federal courts.

However, this proposed change in language would do more than eliminate the references to segregation.

It could also change the legal standing of public education for the state as a whole.

Dr. Brown says, "The legislature of Alabama will not be obligated to create, maintain, and operate public schools.  Now as a matter of political reality, the legislature is not going to start closing public schools."

But that doesn't mean students won't be impacted.  

Brown says some will argue, if the amendment passes, "Nobody can go into court in the future and argue that a child is not getting a minimally adequate educational experience in a state public school, because the child with have no state constitutional right to an education."

The proposed amendment asks voters to eliminate a dark chapter of history.

But that could also eliminate the state's obligation to provide a minimally adequate educational experience for students.