Amendment 1: What to know about move to take peoples’ vote out of Alabama education leadership

When voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday, March 3, they will not only vote on candidates in the primary. They will also vote on creating a newly formed Alabama education commission for grades K-12.

Posted: Feb 24, 2020 8:43 PM

When voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday, March 3, they will not only vote on candidates in the primary.

They will also vote on creating a newly formed Alabama education commission for grades K-12.

A 'yes' vote on Amendment One would allow a governor to appoint their own members to a newly created Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. The name would change from the current Board of Education.

The Alabama Senate would then need to approve them. If approved, the amendment would also allow the governor's commission to appoint its own secretary of education.

The new commission would also adopt education standards in place of the controversial Common Core, which sets national standards to help students prepare for college or a career.

A 'no' vote would continue to allow voters to choose members of the Alabama Board of Education.

Opponents of the proposed amendment like Jessica Barker, the president of the African-American grassroots group, New South, argues that the amendment takes away voters' right to decide who can represent them on a local level.

She believes the people, not the governor, should keep control over the board.

"I think that because the governor is so far removed from the actual issues affecting people of color and impact those of the low socio-economic sector," said Barker. "I think that she is so removed, whoever she appoints, they may not even be familiar with those issues."

Members of Gov. Kay Ivey's own political party are against Amendment One, not only based on the argument that is takes away voter choice, but that it is also vague on doing away with Common Core altogether.

State Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan believes the legislature should do away with the national standard separately.

"We do not need (Common Core) mandated from up above and people who do not live here at all," said Lathan. "We can handle our own education ourselves, and with common core, it's sort of a one size fits all. It's not a one size fits all."

Advocates of Amendment One like former state board of education member Mary Scott Hunter believe a new commission would make one person, the governor, accountable for education.

"The governor, if they run on education and they make promises about public education, they better darn well deliver because they have the power to do that," said Scott Hunter.

From a business standpoint, Chip Cherry, the president and CEO of the Huntsville-Madison Chamber of Commerce, argues that approving Amendment One would create a board that speeds up improvements in education for a better educated future workforce.

"It's really about the outcome and how you get there and how you do it effectively," said Cherry. "At the end of the day, our young people need as good a start as they can possibly get."

We attempted to interview Ivey for this story on numerous occasions. Her staff eventually scheduled an interview, changed the date and then cancelled.

We will continue to keep the door for communications open for the governor's comments.

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