Gov. Ivey playing politics with Sentance

August 13, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

Unfortunately, Governor Kay Ivey is now playing politics with our children.  Three weeks ago she said she did not know enough about the performance of State School Chief Mike Sentance to join State Board members in evaluating him  (By virtue of her office, she is President of the State Board).

However, she issued a statement on August 10 supporting Sentance and urging the board to give him more time.

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Sentance & Saban

August 9, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

First there was Governor Robert Bentley telling a business group last September that hiring Mike Sentance as state school superintendent was “like hiring (Nick) Saban.” Of course, we now know Bentley was living in a fantasy world at that time and is the same guy who recently proclaimed himself to be the best governor Alabama ever had.

Now along comes the Alabama Policy Institute again trying to compare Sentance to Saban and pleading with the state board of education not to fire him. In an article of 514 words of mostly nonsense and few facts, they contend that since we gave Coach Saban more than one year to prove his worth, we should do the same for Sentance.

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In praise of doing what’s right

July 31, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

Ain’t no way 11 months ago I would ever write what I am now writing. That’s because I had just watched state school board member Stephanie Bell raise her hand on Aug. 11 as one of five votes to hire Mike Sentance as State Superintendent.

I thought then–and still do—it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen a group of adults do.  Given his lack of qualifications and lack of support from educators, how do you justify selecting him?
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Now I Know What “Fake News” Looks Like

July 24, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

Having a major in journalism, I have had more interest than most I suppose in what all this talk about “fake news” means.  Now I know.

Here is the best example I’ve yet come across. It is a feeble attempt by a blog called Yellowhammer News to defend Mike Sentance with untrue assertions and quotes from anyone except those who actually understand education.

It’s what we used to call propaganda, but that is not as quick and catchy as “fake news.”
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State Department ignores State School Board directive

July 17, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

As the Montgomery County school “intervention” has tediously unfolded with little to see but mounting expenses for high-priced consultants and well-paid administrators, the State School Board finally threw up its hands on June 8, 2017, and said “Enough is enough.”

So they passed a resolution saying all spending for Montgomery should stop until Mike Sentance and his folks came up with some budget numbers. As we explained here, this is when Sentance tried to stop Montgomery from hiring teachers and blaming it all on the state school board. When certain State Board members learned what Sentance was doing they quickly scrambled to bring some clarity to the situation so that Montgomery could hire teachers.
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Did the race for Lt. Governor end before it began?

July 10, 2017

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

Candidates for election in 2018 have now turned in their first monthly financial report to the Secretary of State.  This covers the month of June.

These include the three announced Republican candidates for Lt. Governor–Will Ainsworth, Mary Scott Hunter and Rusty Glover.  The differences in the reports are astounding and do not bode well for either Hunter of Glover.

At the start of the reporting period, Hunter had a beginning balance of $50,000.  However, she only raised $6,720 while spending $7,076 and ended up with less in the bank than she had a month earlier.  Glover’s numbers tell about the same story.  He started with $60,911, raised $13,801 and spent $19,199 to leave a balance of $55,513.
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Sen. Dial’s committee goes back to work

July 4, 2017

By Larry Lee

In the wake of last summer’s state superintendent search and all the questions that came up about an effort to discredit applicant Craig Pouncey, Senator Gerald Dial created a joint committee of House and Senate members to investigate what took place and how info from the Ethics Commission about Pouncey ended up in the press.

This committee met several times last fall and we were at each meeting. You can read these reports, here, here, and here.
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What did he know and when did he know it?

June 27, 2017

Forty-four years ago this month, the nation was watching the US Senate hearings about Watergate unfold.  This was before cable news, the internet, telephones that took pictures, etc.  So we were not bombarded with 24/7 news from Washington as we are today, thank goodness.

A key player in the hearings was Tennessee senator Howard Baker.  On June 29, 1973 Baker asked John Dean, “My primary thesis is still, what did the president know, and when did he know it?”  Though he served another 12 years in the Senate, this question became the defining moment in Baker’s career.
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An answer to API

June 12, 2017

Education Matters
Larry Lee

According to its website, The Alabama Policy Institute “is a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization dedicated to influencing public policy…We do this by providing fact-based, objective analysis of key issues.”

However, when you dissect the following op-ed written by Taylor Dawson about the recent defeat of an amendment to the Alabama Accountability Act, it is hard to figure out where the facts are:

“Parents with children trapped in failing schools did not have a real school-choice option in Alabama prior to 2013. With the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), families zoned for Alabama’s worst-performing schools finally had better opportunities through scholarships and tax credits.”
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An open letter to Gov. Ivey

May 15, 2017

By Larry Lee

Governor:

Just a month ago the Alabama political landscape was turned upside down and you suddenly found yourself moving from the State House to the Governor’s office. I have been praying that you meet each new day with clarity of purpose and resolve to make lives better.

You are carefully weighing appointments made by Governor Bentley and putting your own team in place. Our state department of education should be a top priority.
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