By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee passed Senate Bill 403 to repeal the controversial Common Core Standards that Alabama and 43 other states have adopted at the urging of President Barack H. Obama. The effort to overturn Common Core was spearheaded by Senator Dick Brewbaker (R) from Montgomery.
Sen. Brewbaker talked with ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ about his effort to repeal Common Core. Sen. Brewbaker said that with Common Core the state is committing to educations curriculum, “that haven’t even been written.” No one knows how this [Common Core] is going to turn out because the research does not exist yet. It is an unproven concept.”
Sen. Brewbaker says he does not believe that handing over power to the Federal Government is what the taxpayers of Alabama want. “I don’t care how you slice it, if we are letting someone else determine the content, determine the assessments and tell us what technology to use to collect data. I think the state school board has a responsibility to control these issues at a state level. They are who we elected to do these things. But there are a lot of people who think that the school board has abdicated too much of their responsibility to someone else.”
Earlier bills (SB190 and HB254) that would have repealed the Common Core Standards died in Committee when the powerful Business Council of Alabama announced their opposition to the repeal effort. Efforts to repeal Common Core gained new life however last week when the Republican National Committee (RNC) meeting in Los Angeles endorsed efforts opposing Common Core standards.
Alabama National Committeeman for the RNC Paul Reynolds said, “We looked at Common Core through two basic concerns; unintended circumstances and extended circumstances. It is the extended circumstances that bothered me the most. Creating a national standard carries with it the power to regulate nationally. Alabama knows what Alabama children need to be taught, not a panel of ‘experts’ in Washington or on the West Coast.”
Upon the passage of the RNC resolution, ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead praised the vote of the RNC. Armistead said, “The RNC has just backed up what we have been saying in Alabama, that the Common Core Standards are bad for our children and are a gross overreach into the lives of Americans by the federal government.”
Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (AUEE) Director Sharon Sewell said, “The education of our children should not be controlled by the Far Left which sees classrooms as laboratories for indoctrination at taxpayer expense, or by special interests which see students as a source for profit. Common Core is just the latest but well-disguised ploy to federalize education and take our Tenth Amendment rights. By chaining our children to Common Core, the state board of education has fundamentally changed our education system without the knowledge or consent of legislators, parents, and taxpayers.”
Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale told the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, “Several of the Senators are on board with getting rid of the common core standards.” The Republican Executive Committee had earlier passed a resolution urging that the legislature overturn the Common Core Standards which Alabama had agreed to. Beason stressed that the party should be united behind issues not united behind personalities.
Sen. Brewbaker said, “It is one thing to have consultants. It is another thing to allow the consultants dictate what we do. This is an example of government over reach. There is no question about it.”
Director Sewell said, “The Common Core Initiative was not state-led Common Core standards were developed by special interest groups and led by vendors who stand to make substantial profits off our children.” “The creators of Common Core found a “cover” to end-run Congress and develop standards outside the public meetings act. This cover was the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSO), two trade associations, which have no legislative authority to act on behalf of states. Massive funding came from private interests such as the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates expects to spend about $380 million to get states to adopt Common Core. He will make billions off this “investment”.”
Sen. Brewbaker said that Common Core, “Started off as a purely state run, state lead voluntary program. But the minute they started tying “Race to the Top” grants to Common Core: the voluntary part was over.” “The minute you start rewarding states who comply and sanctioning states who won’t it is not voluntary. The Federal Government has never intruded this far before. Their last big education push was ‘No Child Left Behind’ and we see how well that has worked out.” “Their track record is just not every good.”
Director Sewell said, “Special interests, in concert with the Obama Administration, rushed states to adopt Common Core before the public could catch on, rise, and resist.” “Legislators are now our last line of defense, and it is their duty to protect our children and their future, as well as Alabama values and states’ rights. They have an opportunity to prove that checks and balances work in Alabama, though not in Washington, D.C. The Legislature must repeal Common Core this year. Next year will be too late! A Republican super-majority should assure a rapid repeal.”
Alabama State School Board Members Mary Scott Hunter (R) and Tracy Roberts (R) have both been very outspoken supporters of the Common Core standards. They wrote in an op-ed, “The Alabama Standards are ours. Yes, they include the Common Core, but they include additional content as well. They are rigorous, and they are requiring a lot of our teachers and students. They posture Alabama students to surge in their achievement. The implementation of these rigorous standards is ongoing and to undo that work would be a setback. A return to our previous, and less rigorous, standards would send the wrong message to the nation. It would frustrate teachers who have worked very hard to successfully teach the new Alabama Standards. Most importantly, a return to less rigor, would be lowering our expectations of our students. They deserve better.”
Hunter and Roberts voted with the Democrats on the State Board of Education to defeat an effort by fellow Republicans, Gov. Robert Bentley, Stephanie Bell, and Betty Peters to rescind the unpopular educational standards at a meeting of the state school board.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) has been a staunch opponent of the federalization of Alabama Education. Gov. Bentley said, “Every state is different. Every Legislature is different. I think having one standard goes against the intent of the founding fathers of the United States.”
In a written statement the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs asked: Why would Alabama concede its sovereignty to the United States Federal Government? Why would Alabama use its most precious resource, the minds of our Children, to further this loss of sovereignty? These are just a few of the questions those in opposition to CCSSI are asking.” “We Dare Defend Our Rights.” We know what Freedom is, and we do not want any more of it taken from us or from our future generations. We oppose what is known as Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).”
Most of Alabama’s education bureaucrats, including Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice, supports adopting the common core standards which the Alabama State Board of Education has already voted to implement.
The Republican National Committee, the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, the Alabama Eagle Forum, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education and the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs have all endorsed legislation that would defund the Common Core Curriculum.
Slow absentee voting in Tuscaloosa sparks outrage, possible legal action
Among the issues were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours.
Long lines and slow absentee ballot processing in Tuscaloosa County have left voters outraged and incumbent Sen. Doug Jones’s campaign threatening legal action.
On Wednesday, Jones’s campaign attorney, Adam Plant, sent a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo, outlining a number of issues with ongoing absentee voting and promising to take legal action if Bobo doesn’t improve the process on the final day, Friday. Among the issues documented by Plant were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours.
Additionally, Plant noted that Bobo has hired her family members to help process absentee ballots and at least one family member had made disparaging remarks on social media about voters.
“You and those acting on your behalf are suppressing the vote of qualified Alabama voters,” Plant wrote in the letter. “If you are unable or unwilling to execute your duties competently, and allow Tuscaloosa voters to exercise their voting rights without undue burdens, we will take further action.”
In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday, Bobo noted that her office had received more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots — a remarkable uptick from the 3,000 or so her office usually receives — and there had been problems in managing that number of ballots while also adhering to social distancing guidelines within the office.
However, as Plant’s letter notes, the massive increase in absentee ballots for this election shouldn’t have been a surprise. Also, Secretary of State John Merrill had made additional funds available to absentee managers to facilitate hiring extra staff, purchasing additional computers and staying open for longer hours to accommodate the anticipated increase.
In a press release on Wednesday, the Alabama Democratic Party criticized Bobo and her family members, and the release included screenshots of Facebook posts from Bobo’s daughter lashing out at voters who complained about the long wait times.
“No voter should have to wait in line for hours to exercise their rights,” said ADP executive director Wade Perry. “We should leverage every tool we have to make voting easier, not harder. Also, it should go without saying that election workers should not insult the very people they are employed to serve. If Ms. Bobo is incapable of processing voters quickly, someone else needs to do the job.”
Jones campaign calls Tuberville a “coward” after no-show at Auburn forum
“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” Jones’s campaign said.
There are only four days left before election day, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign is slamming Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville, accusing him of “hiding” and calling him a “coward.”
On Wednesday, Jones addressed an Auburn University forum. Tuberville did not attend.
“Tonight, the College Democrats and College Republicans at Auburn University co-hosted a debate between Doug Jones and Tommy Tuberville, offering students a chance to ask the candidates about the issues that matter most to Alabama,” the Jones campaign said in an email to supporters. “But Tuberville never showed up – he’s too scared to face Doug… even on his own home turf. Tuberville has repeatedly refused to debate Doug Jones. He’s consistently refused to be interviewed by the press. He’s refused to tell Alabama the truth about who and what they’re voting for – and it’s clear why.”
“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” the campaign continued. “If he won’t tell the truth, we will. Tuberville expects to win this race off of his blind allegiance to the President and his party affiliation. But Alabamians know better.”
“People deserve to know who they’re really voting for if they vote for Tuberville: someone who … won’t protect our health care, doesn’t believe in science, has no idea what the Voting Rights Act is, and doesn’t care about the lives and livelihoods of Alabamians,” the Jones campaign concluded. “Alabama will never elect a coward. Pitch in now and help us spread the truth about the man hiding behind the ballot.”
“I am disappointed that Tommy Tuberville is not here,” Jones said. “I think it is important that people see two candidates side by side answering the same questions.”
Tuberville meanwhile is canvassing the state, speaking to rallies and Republican groups to turn out the Republican vote for himself and President Donald Trump. Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest in Madison County on Thursday and at the Trump Truck Parade rally in Phenix City.
“It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who represents our conservative beliefs and traditional values,” Tuberville said in Phenix City. “It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who supports the Second Amendment, the right to life, and putting God back in the classroom.”
Polling consistently shows Tuberville with a commanding lead over Jones. Real Clear Politics lists the race on their current board as a likely Republican win. FiveThirtyEight’s election model gives Tuberville has a 79 percent chance of defeating Jones.
Tuberville says election is about “the American dream”
“It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us,” Tuberville claimed.
Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest asking Madison County voters to support him and re-elect Donald Trump on Election Day next Tuesday.
The former Auburn University head football coach told the estimated crowd of 350 that, “It is great to be here. This has been a lot of fun for me. Two years ago, my wife and I started to pray on whether or not to run. When we decided to run, she said don’t come back until you win.”
“This is a very serious election,” Tuberville said. “This is not about Donald Trump. It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us.”
“I always told my players this: this country gives you the opportunity to fail and if you fail you get back up and try again,” Tuberville said. “When I was growing up in Arkansas I wanted to be a college football coach. People in high school laughed at me for it and people in college. It takes perseverance.”
Tuberville said that this country gives you the opportunity to succeed, more so than any other country in the world. He claimed that most of the rest of the world is “socialist.”
Tuberville also claimed that the other side, the Democratic candidates, are trying to turn America into a socialist country, which is not accurate.
“We are not going to let them ruin this country,” Tuberville said.
The 2020 Madison County GOP Freedom Fest was held at the brand new Toyota Field, the new home of the Huntsville Trash Pandas minor league baseball team.
Tuberville praised Trump whom he said he has “gotten to know through all of this, and we have become friends. He never slows down, and he is sharp as a tack.”
Tuberville said that the president once called him at 2:30 in the morning, “He said sleep is overrated.”
Tuberville said that he has spoken with “a lot of people who are as nervous as I am about Tuesday.” Tuberville, who is being outspent, urged the crowd to ignore all the television ads by his opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.
Tuberville vowed to defend the Second Amendment if elected, “They ain’t getting my guns….or your guns.”
“We need to get God back in our schools and teach values again,” Tuberville stated. “The other side does not talk about values and morals.”
We are not going to allow them to tear down our country,” Tuberville said. “God will not allow them.”
“We are going to get God back in our country like it is supposed to be,” Tuberville said.
Tuberville was introduced to the crowd by State Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville. Scofield said that he “is ready to send Doug Jones back to California.”
“Yes I know he is actually from here, but he sure votes like California,” he said. “He certainly doesn’t vote like the vast majority of the people of Alabama want him to vote.”
Scofield called Tuberville is “a fighter” who will stand up for the values of the people of Alabama.
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, said, “This is the most important election of my lifetime.”
“Do we believe in freedom and liberty or do we believe in socialism?” Brooks said. “We need to beat them like a drum.”
The general election is on Tuesday. You must bring a valid photo ID with you to your assigned polling place in order to participate.
Secretary of State John Merrill has predicted that the state would have record participation on Tuesday.
State is cleaning up after Hurricane Zeta
Almost 500,000 Alabama Power customers were without power immediately following the storm, including 163,000 in Mobile County alone.
The state of Alabama began working on recovering from Hurricane Zeta on Thursday after the storm slammed the state this week.
“Zeta gave us a real pounding, and many areas are just beginning the clean up process,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama. “The storm had an especially serious impact in north Mobile County, Washington County, and Clarke County. My staff and I stand ready to assist our city, county, and state partners to ensure folks get the help they need to clean up and rebuild.”
Almost 500,000 Alabama Power customers were without power immediately following the storm, including 163,000 in Mobile County alone.
“Our storm team is working into the evening replacing downed lines and poles to restore service for our customers,” Alabama Power announced on Twitter. “At 9:30 p.m., 258,000 customers remain without service across the state. … As of 6 a.m. there are 243,000 outages across the state.”
There was damage across much of the state. As Hurricane Zeta moved through Alabama, it left behind many problems. Thousands of trees are down. There are trees down on homes, businesses, cars, power lines, fences, barns and blocking roadways.
Some school systems are closed or are conducting classes remotely on Friday due to ongoing cleanup efforts and the widespread power outages. The schools plan to reopen Monday.
Flooding from the higher than expected storm surge hit downtown Mobile according to the National Hurricane Center. The National Weather Service said that water in parts of Mobile Bay rose to “major flooding” levels overnight on Oct. 28 to 29.
Byrne warned constituents to be careful using chainsaws in the cleanup and using generators to power their homes and businesses.
The Alabama Department of Public Health warned that, “It might take longer than normal to get power and water back up after #HurricaneZeta. Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re using a generator.”
Portable generators should be kept OUTSIDE the home. Carbon monoxide can build up rapidly if you are using a generator inside a building. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and it kills hundreds of Americans each year.
Because the storm was moving so rapidly, it was not just the coastal counties that were hit hard by Hurricane Zeta. Elmore, Butler, Shelby and Calhoun Counties are among the many counties with extensive damage.
The state was already recovering from Hurricane Sally in September.