Sentance’s resignation: There’s one person to blame

September 14, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The relatively short state education nightmare is over.

Michael Sentance resigned on Wednesday, bowing out a day before he was sure to be fired by a state Board of Education long tired of dealing with him.

The end of Sentance’s tenure was, ironically, the one thing he managed to handle appropriately.

Quiet. Respectful. Appropriately communicated.

Had Sentance demonstrated those three qualities a bit more regularly in his day-to-day efforts as schools’ chief, he would likely still be with us.

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Alabama’s education circus never stops

September 7, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama State Department of Education circus keeps chugging along.

As department staff and superintendent Michael Sentance gear up for an all-important board meeting next week – yet another meeting that could bring an end to Sentance’s tenure – ALSDE has been dealing with fires on a number of fronts.

News of Sentance’s decision to fire popular deputy superintendent Jeff Langham has angered most of the state’s education community. Several sources have told APR that State Board members were also angered by the move and see it as the final indication that a future with Sentance at the helm is unworkable.

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No one is safe: Lawyer who uncovered Pouncey smear is now a target of similar campaign

June 29, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a scheme to derail the candidacy of Dr. Craig Pouncey for the job of State Superintendent, now threatens to crush the man tasked with investigating the smear campaign.

Apparently, corruption is written into the DNA of the Department of Education. Every year, hundreds of millions of federal and state tax dollars pour into Alabama’s education system, but the State remains near or at the bottom of the heap by every legitimate metric.
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US Department of Education: Alabama’s high school graduation rates inaccurate

June 19, 2017

By Sam Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

A new report by the US Department of Education found that the Alabama State Department of Education did not accurately report its high school graduation rate for a period of 4 years.

The report comes from an audit the Federal department conducted looking at the 2013-2014 school year and covered the adjusted cohort graduation rate. This is the rate of people who graduate high school within a 4-year period.
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Ivey signs School Electronic Notification Bill

June 12, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, June 9, 2017, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) recently signed House Bill 89, which requires that the Alabama Department of Education develop and implement an electronic notification system to facilitate the sharing of school emergency-related information between local schools, local school systems, the Department of Education, and the Governor’s office.

Gov. Ivey said, “As a former school teacher, I know the importance of keeping everyone informed of what is going on in our schools. This notification system is a much needed source of information to clarify the sometimes murky communications in times of emergency.”
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Planned changes to career tech education by State Superintendent prompts concern

March 6, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A proposed plan by Alabama Education Superintendent Michael Sentance to reorganize the State’s career tech and workforce development program has upset educators, legislators and some State Board of Education members.

Under the proposed changes, the Alabama State Department of Education, headed by Sentance, would move the Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development office under the Academic Affairs office.

“This would allow for better integration of academic and school improvement programs with the CTE efforts,” Sentance said in an email to Board members. “Contrary to some rumors, the office would NOT be abolished.”

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There’s a stench coming from the Department of Education

March 3, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Something stinks at the Alabama State Department of Education.

I’m just not sure who smells the most.

On Thursday, the Legislature’s Contract Review Committee held up its second ALSDE proposed contract – this one for more than $760,000 going to a company named Northbay Strategic Partners.

It was held up, committee members said, because Rep. John Knight, who didn’t attend the meeting, had questions. Knight told me later that his questions centered on the amount of the contract and the fact that it was more than triple the cost of the original contract ALSDE officials sent to the committee. (The difference, Knight later discovered, was the original contract was for one year and the one ultimately presented was for three years — a fact ALSDE failed to disclose to the committee.)
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Anonymous Accusations Against Superintendent Candidate

August 11, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Earlier this week, the Alabama Political Reporter asked why the Ethics Commission had inserted itself into the selection process for the next State Superintendent of the Department of Education.

Building upon the investigation into what appears to be a smear campaign against Dr. Craig Pouncey, a candidate for superintendent. New information indicates the Ethics Commission was an unwitting participant in the scheme to derail Pouncey’s candidacy, according to multiple sources.
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Under STAARS Agencies Not Paid

July 25, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Once again, the Alabama Board of Adjustment (BOA) was forced to adjudicate payments from one State agency to another, due to the continued failure of the STAARS accounting system.

At the beginning of the last Legislative Session in 2015, Newton testified before a joint committee on budgeting, assuring lawmakers that STAARS was improving rapidly. Almost eight months later, STAARS continues to fail. The State’s $47 million dollar STAARS accounting software has reached “a new level of dysfunction,” according to State Auditor Jim Zeigler.
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Byrne Tells Secretary of Education to Follow the Law

February 26, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, February 25, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) questioned acting US Secretary of Education John King about efforts the Department of Education is taking to ensure individual states get to set their own accountability standards for schools.

Congressman Byrne asked Secretary King how he was going to ensure that state and local education officials will be able to set their own accountability standards, which is required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Byrne was not satisfied with King’s answer.
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