Fake news, alternative facts

Education Matters
By Larry Lee

Just to prove they understand “alternative facts,” the Alabama Federation for Children sent out a news release and a study proclaiming that the Alabama Accountability Act is saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The report, done by Auburn University Montgomery, contends that every time we divert money from the Education Trust Fund and give it to a scholarship granting organization to give a voucher to a private school student we save money. As best I can tell, their “logic” is that private schools educate students at less expense than public schools, so paying for scholarships in less expensive that paying for that child to go to a public school.
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Big splash to UWA

Education Matters
By Larry Lee

At its heart, education is more about hand-to-hand combat than about ballyhooed plans and initiatives. Sure, we love the big splash, but at the end of the day it’s all of the little splashes that make a difference.

And that’s what just happened at the University of West Alabama, tucked away in tiny Livingston, AL. President Ken Tucker and Dean of Education Jan Miller announced the creation of the Black Belt Teacher Corps at a reception and recognized the first 10-member cohort of the program. Read More

More questions on “smear sheet” investigation: Who knew what when?

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

More than 40 years ago, the late Tennessee Republican Senator Howard Baker asked during the Watergate hearings, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”

I was reminded of that yesterday, January 18, 2017, as I listened for nearly two hours while Senators Gerald Dial, Quinton Ross, Greg Allbritton, and Rep. Steve Hurst, convened for their third round of questioning of those who could shed light on how an anonymous “smear sheet” became public knowledge, and an integral part of the effort of the State Board of Education to select a new State school chief last summer. Read More

Something fishy about “failing schools” list

By Larry Lee

The State Department of Education just released the latest “failing schools” list, an annual ranking is required by the infamous Alabama Accountability Act. The Legislature decreed that the bottom six percent of all public schools are “failing” and should be identified annually.

So lists were distributed in June 2013 and January 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

This always causes an outcry from educators they think some schools that face great challenges are being unfairly labeled (The list tells us each year is what we already know, schools with high poverty levels and high minority populations face an uphill battle). Read More

State kicks off A-F school report cards, tells us what we already know

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

After more than four years of endless meetings and countless discussions about how someone can label a school with one grade to encompass its value, we have now made a first step in rolling out legislation passed in 2012.

One has to tip their hat to representative Terri Collins of Decatur for her tenacity in making sure this legislation became reality. She has been the moving force behind it from the outset. But has she helped education? That is an entirely different matter, since A-F has been debunked time after time. Read More

More deception and the tie that binds

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

In the waning days of the Presidential election we heard Donald Trump talk a lot about a “rigged” election.  We have now learned that he may have been describing the state board of education’s recent search for a new state school chief.

After two days of asking questions, the legislative committee trying to find out how an anonymous “smear sheet” got from members of the state board, to the Ethics Commission and then a letter naming Craig Pouncey as the object of this attempt fell into the hands of the media has shed light on what took place.
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Doing it for the kids

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

“I did not know the rules.”

These words won’t leave my head. Round and round, “I did not know the rules.” The reply given by state school board member Mary Scott Hunter to State Senator Gerald Dial when asked in a Nov. 10 committee meeting if she knew the Ethics Committee does not investigate anonymous complaints.
The words hung over the room like an anvil.
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Dial Committee Gets To Work

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

The committee created by Senators Gerald Dial and Quinton Ross to find out how anonymous info given to the state school board made its way into public heard from their first “witnesses” earlier today.

Senator Dial stressed again that the legislature has gone to great lengths to make sure anonymous complaints made to the Ethics Commission do not reach the public and the intent of this committee is to determine how such a “leak” occurred so they can take steps to correct it.
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Fact Checking State School Board Member

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

“Hyperbole” should be the middle name of most all politicians. They are masters of embellishment, of overstatement, of stretching the truth and tall tales both big and small.

As we’ve all be told from birth, “take it with a grain of salt” is super advice when listening to a politician pontificate. I was reminded of this a couple days ago when I read an article in the Gadsden Times titled: “State board member addresses superintendent hire, other issues.”
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Harvard University Wants To Be Top Football Team In Nation

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

In a surprise announcement, Harvard University President Drew Faust declares that she is turning her attention to making sure the school’s football team wins a national championship within five years.

Massachusetts Republican Governor, Charlie Baker, a Harvard alum, joined President Faust for the announcement.

“We have never had a national champion in football since we opened our doors in 1636,” said Faust, “and it is time for that to change.” She continued, “As the first female president of this great school I am determined that we continue to set our goals high. So why not in football?”
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