Former state school board member against giving governor the power to appoint board

Politics
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Residents could vote to elect their State Board of Education or lose the power to do it themselves.

Voters will have to decide on Super Tuesday what they want.

Gov. Kay Ivey and supporters are advocating to appoint state school board members. Most U.S. governors already do. But a past state school board member says she's completely against it.

Former state school board member shares her thoughts

Mary Jane Caylor has been an educator for decades – nine years as Huntsville's superintendent and 16 years as an Alabama state school board member.

"I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I went to East Clinton [Street School in Huntsville]," said Caylor.

She's retired now, but Caylor has a lot to say about the fate of Alabama's state school board.

"I'm going to vote opposing Amendment One," said Caylor. "I thought long and hard on it."

A proposed constitutional amendment will ask voters to change who's leading education at the state level. A "yes" vote means the governor would appoint a 9-member commission. Alabama has 8 elected board members. A "no" - means voters get to choose.

"I think that there's some concerns and issues, at least it should be – and it is to me – about one man, one vote," Caylor said.

Some states don't have a state school board

Alabama is one of 7 states where, along with Washington D.C., voters vote in all members of the state school board. The National Association of State Boards of Education says those states are Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and Utah.

Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wisconsin do not have state school boards.

Caylor said she sees no need to follow what other states are doing when it comes to school board seats.

"Why should we be like other states?" she asked. "What makes us think that works in other states?"

The new bill could give more power to the governor

Caylor said she doesn't want the people to lose their right to elect school leaders.

"From 1995 to 2011 we had a very cohesive board. We were focused on education," said Caylor. Her focus has and always will be education, and she said she sees no benefits to Amendment One.

Here are some rapid fire facts, IF the amendment passes...

  • The proposal would amend the 1901 Constitution of Alabama.
  • The State Board of Education would be renamed to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • The governor would appoint 9 board members. The Senate would need to confirm those appointments.
  • The appointed school board would be required to replace Common Core curricula with new education standards.
  • State Superintendent of Education would be named the Secretary of Elementary and Secretary Education. School board members will continue to appoint and the Senate will continue to confirm the secretary.
  • The governor would appoint a team of educators to advise a newly appointed state school board.

Voters will cast their ballots on March 3, 2020. That's also the same day as the presidential and U.S. Senate primaries. A list of dates are found here.

For more information relating to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education click here.

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