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Last updateWed, 17 Sep 2014 5pm

Alabama Gets Failing Grade on Education Report Card

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama State School Board recently gave State Superintendent Tommy Bice a massive $52,000 raise for the stellar that work he has been doing running the State’s schools.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a much different opinion of Alabama schools. On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave the State’s public schools a failing grade of F. Alabama’s struggling public schools system joined nine other states in receiving the failing grade of F.

The Chamber broke it down into categories which they also graded. On academic achievement the chamber gave Alabama an F. The Chamber wrote: “Despite improvement since our last report, student performance in Alabama is very weak—the state ranks among the lowest in the nation. Only 20 percent of 8th graders are deemed proficient or above on the NAEP math exam. The National average is 34 percent.”

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students in Alabama is even worse. Only six percent of African-American and Hispanic 8th grade students score at or above the proficiency level on the NAEP math exam.

On Return on Investment the State got another F grade. According to the Chamber, the student achievement in Alabama is low relative to State spending even after adjusting for cost of living.

On Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency the Chamber gave Alabama another F. The Chamber gave Alabama very poor marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores.

In Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness Alabama earned yet another failing grade. Only 75 percent of students who make it to the 9th grade walk away with a diploma in four years.

Reportedly only 11 percent of students pass an advanced placement (AP) exam.

On developing a 21st Century Teacher Force, the Chamber wrote, “Alabama does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Yellowhammer State does well training teachers and providing alternative routes for teacher certification, but it does very poorly identifying and retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective ones.”  The Chamber gave the State’s schools a C-.

Efforts to weaken Alabama’s tenure law have not advanced far in the State legislature.

In offering parents options, the State got another F grade. The Chamber wrote, “Alabama does a very poor job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state is one of only eight in the country with no charter school law and has limited choice options.”

In 2011, a very limited charter schools bill that passed the Alabama House was gutted in the Alabama Senate. The House never even bothered bringing the weak Senate version to a vote.  In 2012, the legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act which would give parents whose students are zoned to failing schools an option to transfer out. That remains very controversial with some educator groups claiming that it costs public schools money, even though the Accountability Act would apply to just six percent of students and then only to those who apply for it and can find a school (public or private) who is accepting transfers.

In Data Quality, the State received another F. The Chamber said that Alabama earned a failing grade in collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The Chamber also said that the State does not ensure that data can be effectively accessed and used by stakeholders.

In Technology, Alabama was awarded yet another F. The Chamber wrote, “Alabama receives a very poor grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. Students have limited access to high-quality digital learning options.”

Efforts by Rep. Jim McClendon (R from Springville) and Senator Gerald Dial (R from Lineville) to jump-start Alabama’s schools embrace of technology with a billion dollar bond issue to get tablet textbooks to every high school child in the State has failed in the legislature for three years in a row. There is no dedicated funding stream for technology, thus computers and tablets are part of the curriculum in suburban systems with strong local funding, while rural systems grow further and further behind in the adoption of new technology.

In International Competitiveness, Alabama received one more F. The Chamber gave the state a very low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. Only about 20 percent of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard.  Only 6 students out of 1,000 are able to pass an AP foreign language exam.

In fiscal responsibility, Alabama got a B.  Two-thirds of the State’s pension is funded, and the State’s most recent pension contribution was 100 percent.

In 2012, the Republican Supermajority passed new rules requiring teachers and education employees to contribute more towards their own retirements and requiring that new hires retire at an older age than their older co-workers. The controversial actions cost Alabama teachers take home pay, but resulted in shoring up the pension plan, resulting in the high grade on the Chamber’s report card.

The U.S. Chamber of commerce wrote, “In our increasingly globalized world, an effective, first-class education is more and more critical. For businesses to compete globally and for the U.S. economy to continue to grow, access to high-quality talent and a skilled workforce is essential. While the numerous benefits of an educated society are well documented—higher earnings, reduced inequality, and improved health and well-being, to name just a few—solutions to the challenges facing business will be solved by those countries that can access the best and brightest human capital and thereby gain a competitive advantage. Failure to compete will not only exacerbate unemployment, poverty, and inequality, but it will put the nation at risk of long-term economic stagnation."

According to the report, over the course of his or her lifetime, a high school graduate can expect to make almost $500,000 more than a high school dropout and a college graduate can expect to make about $800,000 more than a college dropout.

According to ACT only 25 percent of American students taking the ACT college admissions test produce college-ready scores in all four tested subjects (English, mathematics, reading, and science).

 

Bentley Creates Alabama Small Business Commission

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama economy has clearly entered into a 2014 rut after a strong post-recession recovery fueled largely by large manufacturing announcements including Airbus and a Mercedes expansion.

On Monday, September 15 Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on announced a Statewide effort to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs and hopefully make Alabama’s recovery more robust. The Governor was joined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R-from Auburn), Senate President Del Marsh (R-from Anniston) and other State leaders to announce the creation of the Alabama Small Business Commission.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a written statement, “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and an integral part of the framework that makes up the American economic system.  Alabama’s continued economic progress depends on the prosperity of our small businesses. The creation of the Alabama Small Business Commission will encourage innovation, discuss issues critical to economic growth of small business and promote policies to assist new business start-ups and expansion of existing businesses.”

Speaker Hubbard said, “Small businesses are the backbone of not only the Alabama economy, but the economy of the United States.  In Alabama, unlike at the federal level, our goal is to support small business owners and reduce their burden instead of adding more and more regulations and red tape to their plates.  We believe that small businesses should be able to focus on their real job –growing the economy and creating jobs – and the Alabama Small Business Commission will help them do just that.”

Senate President Pro Tem Marsh said, “I applaud Governor Bentley for his vision in the creation of the Alabama Small Business Commission. It is imperative that we continue to support the growth of both new and existing small businesses, as they are the fabric of our overall economy. The legislature looks forward to working with Governor Bentley and the members of the commission to develop common sense legislation and policies that will make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Alabama.”

Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said, “America has always been considered the land of opportunity where individuals can start and own a business from the ground up...In recent years, small businesses have been challenged by increasing costs and overreaching regulations. Alabama state leaders continue to fight for small business and protect their prosperity from negative policies handed down from the federal government. The Commission is another way we can serve our small businesses, which are key to the overall economic success of our State.”

The State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business Rosemary Elebash will chair the commission and advisory committee.  Chair Elebash said,

“On behalf of Alabama’s small business owners, I wanted to thank Governor Bentley for recognizing the need to establish a Commission dedicated to helping independently owned and family businesses. The goal of the Commission will be to create a business environment that allows the creation of new businesses and the opportunity for existing businesses to expand. Commission members will be uniquely qualified to serve and represent Alabama’s small businesses in all 67 counties because many of them will have started a business on a shoestring and built a business successfully out of virtually nothing.  Alabama’s small businesses have a special way of life because of their commitment to their local community, the dedication to their employees and to their passion for creating new jobs.”

Gov. Bentley created the new Commission by Executive Order 47. The Commission will be comprised of Alabama-based small and independent business owners who will each serve a two year term. The Governor will have the option of reappointing them for another two year term.

The Governor is defining a small business as 50 or less employees. 

Governor Bentley also created the Alabama Small Business Advisory Committee to provide technical and informational resources to the Commission.  The Governor’s statement said that the Commission will serve as an advisory body in formulating policies, encouraging innovation, and discussing issues critical to the economic growth of small businesses.  The Commission will promote policies to assist new business start-ups and the expansion of existing businesses.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses create three out of four jobs. There are approximately 400,000 small businesses in Alabama. In 2011, over 5,000 jobs were created by small businesses.

The first meeting of the Alabama Small Business Commission will be in October and the commission will be required to present an annual report to the Governor at the end of each calendar year beginning December of 2015.

Adkins Receives Medal of Honor

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, September 15, Alabamian Command Sergeant Bennie Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during his service in the Vietnam War. President Barack H. Obama awarded the medal to Adkins (an Opelika native) in a ceremony in the White House.

Before the ceremony, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) said in a statement, “Today a very special Alabamian will receive the Medal of Honor: Bennie Adkins of Opelika who served three tours in Vietnam and survived four days at Camp A Shau, where he fought off enemy forces and rescued fellow soldiers. He sustained 18 wounds in battle and received the Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam.”

Rep. Roby continued, “But it took an act of Congress for Mr. Adkins to receive the Medal of Honor some 48 years after battle. He will receive the Medal today at a White House ceremony and will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Tuesday.  His story of unwavering service and courage is nothing short of inspiring. I hope you’ll read it and share it with younger Americans. Thank you Mr. Adkins for your service to this country, and congratulations on this long-overdue, but well-deserved recognition.”

The Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn wrote on Facebook, “A great ceremony at the White House today for one of Alabama and America's finest, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins. When his fellow soldiers needed him, Sgt. Maj. Adkins ran through enemy fire to drag them to safety. Susan and I are grateful that he is part of our community, and honored for his service.”

On August 26 it was announced that President Obama would award the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Bennie G. Adkins. 

Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks) issued a statement upon learning the news.  Rep. Rogers who represents Opelika said, “Mr. Adkins is a true American hero who served his country in Vietnam.  His acts of heroism during his tour of duty earned him our nation’s highest honor, which he has long deserved.  I congratulate Mr. Adkins on this honor and thank him for his bravery, sacrifice and service to our nation.”

Rep. Rogers was instrumental in shepherding the legislation to waive the customary three year time limit for awarding the Medal of Honor.  Command Sgt. Adkins served three tours of duty in Vietnam with the Special Forces; but this medal is for his actions on March 9 thru 12, 1966.

President Obama said, “In Bennie’s life, we see the enduring service of our men and women in uniform.  He went on to serve a third tour in Vietnam, a total of more than two decades in uniform.  After he retired, he earned his Master’s Degree -– actually not one, but two. Opened up an accounting firm. Taught adult education classes.  Became national commander of the Legion of Valor veterans organization.  So he has earned his retirement, despite what he says.  (Laughter.)  He’s living outside Auburn.  And, yes, he is a fan of the Auburn Tigers, although I did a poll of the family and there are some Crimson Tide fans here.  (Laughter.) So there’s obviously some divisions.  But Bennie will tell you that he owes everything to the men he served with in Vietnam, especially the five who gave their lives in that battle.  Every member of his unit was killed or wounded.  Every single one was recognized for their service.”

According to the account on the U.S. Army’s web site; “At that time, then-Sergeant First Class Adkins was serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces at Camp A Shau, in the Republic of Vietnam.

When Camp A Shau was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force in the early morning hours of March 9, then-Sergeant First Class Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp. He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several Soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another Soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins repeatedly exposed himself to sniper and mortar fire, while moving casualties to the camp dispensary.

Adkins exposed himself to enemy fire transporting a casualty to an airstrip for evacuation. He and his group then came under heavy small-arms fire from members of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group, which had defected to fight with the North Vietnamese. Despite this overwhelming force, Adkins maneuvered outside the camp to evacuate a seriously wounded American and draw fire away from the aircraft, all the while successfully covering the rescue. Later, when a resupply air drop landed outside of the camp perimeter, Adkins again moved outside of the camp walls to retrieve the much-needed supplies.

During the early morning hours of March 10, enemy forces launched their main assault. Within two hours, Adkins was the only defender firing a mortar. When all mortar rounds were expended, Adkins began placing effective recoilless rifle fire upon enemy, as they infiltrated the camp perimeter and assaulted his position. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Adkins fought off relentless waves of attacking Viet Cong.

Adkins then withdrew to regroup with a smaller element of Soldiers at the communications bunker. While there, he single-handedly eliminated numerous insurgents with small-arms fire, almost completely exhausting his supply of ammunition. Braving intense enemy fire, he returned to the mortar pit, gathered vital ammunition and evaded fire while returning to the bunker. After the order was given to evacuate the camp, Adkins and a small group of Soldiers destroyed all signal equipment and classified documents, dug their way out of the rear of the bunker, and fought their way out of the camp.

Because of his efforts to carry a wounded Soldier to an extraction point and leave no one behind, Adkins and his group were unable to reach the last evacuation helicopter. Adkins then rallied the remaining survivors and led the group into the jungle, where they evaded the enemy for 48 hours, until they were rescued by helicopter, March 12. During the 38-hour battle and 48-hours of escape and evasion, Adkins fought with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, killing an estimated 135 - 175 of the enemy and sustaining 18 different wounds. Adkins' extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces and the United States Army.”

The commanding officer of Camp A Shau at the time was retired Col. John D. Blair IV, then a captain.  Col. Blair said, “Sgt. 1st Class Adkins' contribution to the defense of the camp and subsequent recovery of the survivors was far above and beyond that called for by duty.”

Command Sgt. Adkins served with the Special Forces for more than 13 years with the 7th, 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups (Airborne).  Adkins retired from the Army, in 1978.

Adkins earned his bachelor's degree, a Master's Degree in Education, and a Master's Degree in Management from Troy State University.  While in college he established the Adkins Accounting Service, Inc., in Auburn, Alabama, where he was the CEO for 22 years. He also taught night classes at Alabama's Southern Union Junior College for 10 years, and at Auburn University for six years.  Adkins and his wife, Mary, raised five children.  They have been married for 59 years.

 

Sessions Says Senate Democrats Have Broken Social Contract with Their Constituents

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, September 12 U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) delivered remarks on what his office called, "The Administration’s collaboration with Congressional Democrats and the corporate immigration lobby on executive actions that would reduce workers’ pay."

Senator Jeff Sessions said, “Earlier this week I spoke about the President's promise that he would issue an executive amnesty to 5 or 6 million people. The planned amnesty would include work permits, photo ID's, and Social Security numbers for millions of people who illegally entered the U.S., illegally overstayed their visas, or defrauded U.S. immigration authorities. The Senate Democratic Conference has supported and enabled the President's unlawful actions and blocked every effort to stop them. Not even one of our Democratic colleagues has backed the House legislation that would stop this planned executive amnesty or demanded that Senator Reid bring it up for a vote. Every Senate Democrat is therefore the President's partner in his planned lawless acts.”

Sen. Sessions said that this was due to the influence of special interests on our nation's immigration system.  Sen. Sessions said, “Just yesterday Majority Leader Reid wrote in a tweet something that was shocking. He said: ‘Since House Republicans have failed to act on immigration, I know the President will. When he does, I hope he goes real big.’ The Majority Leader of the Senate is bragging that he knows the President will circumvent Congress to issue executive amnesty to millions, and he is encouraging the President to ensure this amnesty includes as many people as possible. And the White House has acknowledged that 5 to 6 million is the number they are looking at.”

Sen. Sessions continued, “Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to reject Mr. Reid's statement? Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to say: I support the legislation passed by the House of Representatives that would secure the border and block this executive amnesty? Have they ever said they support that? Have they ever said: I will do everything in my power to see that the House legislation gets a vote in the Senate so the American people can know what is going on? No. All we hear is silence....The only way Senator Reid can succeed in blocking this Senate from voting to stop the President's executive actions is for members to stop supporting him.”

Sen. Sessions said, “Every Senator needs to stand up and represent their constituents, not big business, not the ACLU, not activist groups, not political interests but the American interests, the workers' interests. That is what we need to expect from them, and we don't have but a few weeks, it looks like, to get it done.  In effect, the entire Senate Democratic Congress has surrendered the jobs, wages, and livelihoods of their constituents to a group of special interests meeting in secret at the White House.  They are surrendering them to executive actions that will foist on the nation what Congress has refused to pass and the American people have rejected. They are plotting at the White House to move forward with Executive action no matter what the people think and no matter what Congress—through the people's House—has decided.” 

Sen. Sessions said, “White House officials are meeting with the world's most powerful corporate and immigration lobbyists and activists who think border controls are for the little people.  The administration is meeting with the elite, the cosmopolitan set, who scorn and mock the concerns of everyday Americans who are concerned about their schools, jobs, wages, communities, and hospitals. These great and powerful citizens of the world don't care much about old fashioned things like national boundaries, national sovereignty, and immigration control—let alone the constitutional separation of powers.”

Sessions said that according to one report, corporate open borders interests have spent $1.5 billion since 2007 trying to pass their desired immigration bill.  Sen. Sessions said, “—$1.5 billion. They tried and tried and tried to pass the bill through Congress, but the American people said: No, no, no. So they decided to just go to the President. They decide to go to President Obama, and they insist that he implement these measures through executive fiat. And Senate Democrats have apparently said: Well, that is just a wonderful idea. We support that. Just do it. Go big. But, Mr. President, wait a little bit. Wait until after the election. We don't want the voters to hold us accountable for what you are doing. We want to pretend we in the Senate have nothing to do with it.”

Sen. Sessions said that Facebook CEO and open borders advocate Mark Zuckerberg (30, and worth about $30 billion) spoke in Mexico City, a guest of fellow billionaires, Mr. Carlos Slim, and said that America’s immigration system was a, "Policy unfit for today's world."

Sen. Sessions said, “Well, the ‘masters of the universe’ are very fond of open borders as long as these open borders don't extend to their gated compounds and fenced-off estates.” Sessions said that according to a Mercury News Report Zuckerberg just spent more than $30 million to buy four of his neighbor’s houses for privacy.  “That is a world the average American doesn't live in.”  Sessions accused Zuckerberg of being, “The top spokesman for expanding the admission of foreign workers.”

Sessions said that the Senate immigration bill would, “Double the supply of low-wage foreign workers brought into the United States for companies such as Facebook.” 

Sen. Sessions said, “Many of us have heard for a long time the claim that there is a shortage of STEM and IT workers. This has been the central sales pitch used by those making demands for massive increases in foreign worker programs across-the-board—programs that bring in workers for every sector in the U.S. economy. But we know otherwise from the nation's leading academics, people who studied this issue and are professionals in it. I have a recent op-ed here from USA Today which reports that there is actually not a shortage but a surplus of Americans who have been trained in the STEM and IT fields and that this is why wages for these fields have not increased since 1999.”  

Sen. Sessions said, “If you have a shortage of workers in a field such as information technology or science and mathematics, wages go up, do they not? If wages are not up, we don't have a shortage.  So rich high-tech companies are using the H-1B visa program to keep wages down and to hire less expensive workers from abroad. Indeed, the same companies demanding more guest workers are laying off American workers in droves.”

Sen. Sessions referred to an op-ed published in USA Today. The article was co-authored by: Ron Hira, Paula Stephan, Hal Salzman, Michael Teitelbaum, and Norm Matloff.  Sessions said the four are labor economic experts who have testified before Congress. "They say:

‘None of us have been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry's assertions of labor shortages.’"

Sessions said the four say that "Silicon Valley has created an imaginary staffing shortage."  As evidence they cite Census reports that only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job, and Microsoft announced plans to downsize its workforce by 18,000 jobs.  The four writers said, "If a shortage did exist, wages would be rising as companies try to attract scarce workers. Instead, legislation that expanded visas for IT personnel during the 1990s has kept average wages flat over the past 16 years. Indeed, guest workers have become the predominant source of new hires in these fields...Those supporting even greater expansion seem to have forgotten about the hundreds and thousands of American high-tech workers who are being shortchanged—by wages stuck at 1998 levels, by diminished career prospects and by repeated rounds of layoffs....Unfortunately, companies are exploiting the large existing flow of guest workers to deny American workers access to STEM careers and middle-class security that should come with them. Imagine, then, how many more Americans would be frozen out of the middle class if politicians and tech moguls succeeded in doubling or tripling the flow of guest workers into STEM occupations."

Sen. Sessions said that the Senate immigration bill, “The bill the House of Representatives rejected—would have done. It would have doubled the number of guest workers coming into America just to take jobs—coming in for the very purpose of taking a job that we need Americans to be taking.”

Sen. Sessions said, “Facebook has 7,000 workers. Microsoft just laid off 18,000. Why doesn't Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend Mr. Gates and say: Look, I have to hire a few hundred people; do you have any resumes you can send over here? Maybe I will not have to take somebody from a foreign country for a job an unemployed U.S. citizen might take.  There is this myth that we have surging employment in the high-tech industry. According to a recent Reuters report, ‘U.S. employers announced 50,000 layoffs in August of 2013, up 34 percent from the previous month, then up 57 percent through August 2012.’  As Byron York reported, Hewlett-Packard, a high-tech company, ‘laid off 29,000 employees in 2012’—29,000. ‘In August of 2013, Cisco announced plans to lay off 4,000 workers in addition to the 8,000 cut in the last 2 years’, and Cisco was right in the White House this summer with a group of other companies demanding more workers from abroad. Cisco was signing a letter with a bunch of other companies; ‘United Technologies has announced 3,000 layoffs this year’; ‘American Express cut 5,400 jobs’; ‘Procter and Gamble announced 5,700 jobs cut in 2012’; ‘T-Mobile announced plans to lay off 2,250 employees in 2012.’  There is no shortage of workers.”

Sen. Sessions said, “We have business CEOs, lobbyists, activists, immigration groups, and clever politicians who demand that we have to have even more workers brought into America even when we have a decline in wages and a decline in jobs. But what does the President do? His administration issues an executive order to provide foreign spouses—the citizens of other countries, not American citizens—with 100,000 jobs in the United States, precious jobs that many Americans would love to have. How many American spouses struggling to support their families would benefit from one of those jobs? How many single moms would benefit from a chance to earn a better paycheck?  Our Senate Democratic friends talk about paycheck fairness repeatedly. Yet they are supporting policies that take jobs and wages directly from American women by the millions.  Immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interest and the people of the United States, not the interests of a few activist CEOs and the politicians who are catering to them. We have had 40 years of mass immigration combined with falling wages, a shrinking workplace, and exploding welfare rolls. We know that, don't we, friends and colleagues? It is time for a shift in emphasis. It is time to get our own people back to work, and our communities out of poverty, and our schools back on their feet.”

Sen. Sessions concluded, “The basic social contract is that citizens agree to follow the law, pay their taxes, devote their love and loyalty to their country, and in exchange the nation commits to preserve and protect and serve their interests, safeguard their freedom, and return to them in kind their first allegiance and loyalty.  The job of elected officials is to answer to the people who sent them to Washington—not to scorn them, not to demean them, not to mock them, and not to sell their jobs and dreams to the highest bidder.”

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Judiciary, Environment and Public Works, and is the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee.

 

Mabry Survives Scare at AEA

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Friday, September 12, shortly after arriving to begin their Alabama Education Association (AEA) meeting, the AEA Board went into an extended executive session that lasted over four and a half hours.  It is believed that AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry answered accusations from disgruntled board members that questioned his leadership style and the finances of the State's education.

Both were challenged in an open letter that retired Executive Secretary Paul Hubbard wrote to the Board members. The 78 year old Hubbert questioned his successor’s leadership style, his ability to lobby the State legislature, his relationship with AEA staff, the AEA’s finances, and the educators association’s recent loss of both members and revenues.

After a four and a half hour Executive session, the AEA board members exited the closed room and went for snacks, before going back into open session.  It was announced that no business had been actually conducted in the mammoth four and a half hour session, from which the press was barred.

After handling some routine business such as the promotions of Uniserve Directors, Executive Secretary Mabry took up the 2015 budget with the Board.

Dr. Hubbert in his letter to the board that he was concerned that the AEA was not living within its means and was worried about dwindling reserves.  Secretary Mabry addressed most of these issues in the new 2015 “barebones” budget which he proposed early Saturday morning.

Sec. Mabry says this budget includes a reduction in legal fees, a reduction in the circulation and the number of issues printed of "The Alabama School Journal," but did not include any layoffs in staff.  Sec. Mabry reported that the "Alabama School Journal" will be transitioning to an online version cutting the costs of printing and postage. The cuts will allow the AEA to cut the rate that it has been utilizing its reserves.

The falling revenues are attributed to cuts made by the State in the number of education employees since 2008 and the 2010 law the new Republican Supermajority passed preventing the AEA from collecting it’s dues through automatic payroll deduction.

The new budget assumes that both revenues and membership will continue to drop next year.  According to original reporting by The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman on Twitter, Executive Secretary Mabry said that the AEA will, “...have to have budget expenditures in consideration of lower revenue expectations in FY 15."

The AEA Board of Directors unanimously approved Secretary Mabry’s budget and the meeting was adjourned in the early morning hours of Saturday, without any formal call for a change in leadership.

Despite the actions of retired Secretary Paul Hubbert and some recent electoral setbacks, Henry Mabry is still the Executive Secretary of the AEA and the organization has not plunged into chaos as one conservative blogger had publicly hoped.

 

 

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