By Dr. Henry Mabry
Executive Secretary, Alabama Education Association
Protect our right to public education, no on Amendment 4
The more things change, the more things stay the same, as the saying goes. It was 20 years ago, and there we were trying to get more money for schools and the need for changes in the tax code, and there was Alfa Insurance being obstinate and the ones in the shadows killing progress. Now, Alfa is behind the effort to pass Amendment 4, and a group out of their corporate headquarters has paid for ads on black radio stations urging a yes vote.
The twelfth of never
Since when did Alfa/the Farmers’ Federation (aka Alabama’s large land owners) start caring about getting rid of racist language from our constitution? Since when did Alfa do anything progressive for this state? I suppose it started on the twelfth…the twelfth of never.
Amendment 4 bad for public schools
The bottom line on Amendment 4 is this: if anyone has any doubt whether Amendment 4 is bad, just look at what group is for it and what group is against it. Like 20 years ago AEA worked for progress in our tax structure while Alfa worked to kill the effort.
Today, Alfa works to pass the devilishly clever Amendment 4 because they know the negative ramifications for public education while AEA works to kill the amendment because we also know the negative ramifications for public education.
Constitution provides for public education
The operative and most important sentence in Alabama’s Constitution regarding public education is this, “The legislature shall establish, organize, and maintain a liberal system of public schools throughout the state for the benefit of the children thereof between the ages of seven and twenty-one years.” Amendment 4 abolishes that sentence and provides another, diametrically opposed phrase saying, “but nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense…”
Some groups oppose progress in our schools
There are those interests in Montgomery who have worked for over a century to thwart progress in our schools for fear that state and local taxes might increase to help pay for better community schools. Alfa has opposed educational progress, and it has worked to make it nearly impossible to raise revenue for schools. And now, Alfa supports Amendment 4.
This fact itself should be indication enough. Further, this same group supports former Chief Justice Roy Moore who was thrown off the high court for violating a higher court ruling.
Like Alfa, Moore attempted to hurt public education 10 years ago by trying not to recognize our children’s right to an education.
Amendment supporters tout state’s image
The pro Amendment 4 bandwagon also hosts a bevy of lawmakers who have less than embraced help for our schools.
These legislators say they are concerned that if Alabama does not pass Amendment 4 and take out racist language, then Alabama will get a black eye in light of foreign companies looking at Alabama for possible plant locations.
It is most humorous that the same lawmakers who say we must pass Amendment 4 for the sake of the state’s reputation are the same lawmakers who rammed through the despotic immigration law, House Bill 56, and who refused to address some of the scurrilous provisions of that infamous immigration law that landed one German auto executive and another Japanese automotive engineer in Alabama jails thanks to their backward thinking handy work.
Alabama lawmakers concerned with getting a black eye for not passing Amendment 4 should be more concerned with having to tell industrial recruits why in Alabama school children have no right to a public education at public expense.
Amendment 4 needs quick death
Hopefully Amendment 4 will die a quick death this Tuesday, November 6.
Please vote NO, and please alert family and friends to this dangerous proposal.
Maybe we can get it right next time and address the antiquated racist language that does need to go while concurrently making sure our school children keep their right to a public education intact so the state keeps its limited resources funding our schools.
Doing both would be the right thing instead making things worse under the guise of making things better.
Vote no on Amendment 4
Getting a pig in a poke while being sold a golden calf is not the answer. Our people deserve better than this. Vote NO on Amendment 4.