By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, May 7, the Alabama House of Representatives passed HB236, the “Tim Tebow bill.”
HB236 would allow children who are being home schooled to participate in extracurricular activities like cheerleading and athletics at the taxpayer-funded local schools that they would be zoned to if they had chosen to attend the government’s schools.
Almost 30 states have some form of this legislation. Florida has had this since the late 1990s.
HB236 was sponsored by state Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) said that this version of the bill deals with the issues that prevented the bill, which is named after the popular University of Florida quarterback, from passing in previous legislative sessions.
State Representative Jimmy Martin (R-Clanton) said, “When I went to school we didm’t have this problem of homeschooling. The two biggest problems we face in the schools has been taking prayer and the paddle out of school. I am going to vote no.”
Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) said that high school is not like when we were in high school. Teenagers this day I fear them.” We could get in a bullying situation. If homeschool children come to public school and take a spot on the team or the cheerleading squad, we could even have parents out there fighting over it. Homeschool children are kind of sheltered. I hope and pray we don’t see a lot of abuse and bullying.
Rep. Ball (who is small in stature) replied, “I have a lot of experience with bullies. I was the smallest kid in both the fourth and fifth grade. It was very painful. Sometimes you have to make a stand. All the little kids have to stand together and sometimes you have to tote a whipping.”
Ball said that his bill creates an opportunity for more interaction. Home schooling is not for everybody. They are part of the community. I favor inclusion instead of exclusion. Most homeschool parents make sacrifices. Some of them have a chip on their shoulder and pulled their kids out of school. I have not found that to be representative.
Rep. Warren said that she is concerned about what could happen to the homeschool children if they interact with public school children. “Kids are committing suicide because of bullying.” “I hope no student will have to suffer.”
Ball acknowledged that teen suicide is a big problem and said that he is working on a bill to help address the suicide problem.
Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) said I played football including one year professionally and when I played we knew how to get somebody off the team we didn’t want on the team.
Rogers said that those kids will feel deprived because somebody comes in and takes their spot. “He ain’t going to be playing long because they are going to be waiting on him.” Rogers said that home schooling kids don’t have the interpersonal skills to cope.
Ball said I hope to see more flexibility from schools. This is an area creating more flexibility for parents; but they have to live in the district. “We are trying to build bridges.”
Darrio Melton (D-Selma) I keep hearing this debate about our kids participating in athletics. How does this impact homecoming and pep rallies?
Rep. Ball replied that there are various boards who have their own policies about this. I would hope that they would encourage inclusiveness and participation. Ball said that the academic standards are actually higher for participation for the homeschooled students is higher than for students in the public schools. Even though he was homeschooled Tim Tebow has had a positive impact on his team mates and fellow students as well as the greater society.
Melton asked why is it so important that they participate in public school athletics? Why can’t they stay in the municipal athletics fields?
Ball replied why is it so bad that they participate? Some parents are more involved in their children lives. Some home school over school prayer and for religious reasons.
Rep. Melton said the homeschoolers can create their own league.
Rep. Hall (D-Huntsville) said, “Those individuals who are home schooling their children can start their own league. I did not see any type of oversight over discipline in the home schools.”
Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) said that to participate students must score in the top 25 percentile on a standardized test. About 13,000 students in Alabama have left the public school system across the State and are home schooling. This is a way to bring some of them back.
Rep. Hall said this is a way to keep whittling away at the public schools.
Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) said, “I have received thousands of emails in the past few days. Many are very well written and show a deep understanding of the bill.”
Rep. Christopher England (D-Tuscaloosa) said, “I do have some problems with the legislation. More indicative of the tone I have noticed over the past few years. We have had the accountability act, we have charter schools, now we have this allowing people to use school facilities without going to the school. We are providing scholarships for people to leave the public schools. Now athletics will no longer be a draw for the public school system. Because of where I am from and my constituency these are institutions that they depend on and they should be protected. It bothers me that we are taking some of the benefits of public schools away.”
Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa): “I want to tell you that your bill is a good bill and I ask this body to support this bill because it is for the child.”
Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) said, “We make a choice to attend public schools or not to attend. Jackson said that the bill didn’t pan out like they hoped it would in Florida.”
Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said, “The main problem I have is why would you subject these children to what they would experience in High Schools?”
Rep. John Rogers said, “I am not a proponent of home schools. I do think everybody should get a good education. Drugs are very prevalent in high schools. They sell them in the schools. Home school kids were raised in a cocoon they are not exposed to all that. They don’t know how to react.”
Rep. Mary Moore said, “those children are going to be considered outsiders. I would not subject children to what they will be subjected to and I just shudder at what would happen to those children. There is going to be a level of bullying. I am hell-bent to bring some common sense to this body.”
The Tim Tebow bill passed 52 to 43.
Rep Matt Fridy (R) I was honored and excited to cast my vote today in favor of the Tim Tebow Act!
Today is Thanksgiving
Today is a national and state holiday. Schools, banks, government offices and many private businesses are closed.
Four hundred years ago, on Nov. 11, 1620, after 66 days at sea, a group of English settlers landed near what is today Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Onboard the Mayflower were 102 men, women, and children, including one baby born during the Atlantic crossing, who made up the Pilgrims.
The Mayflower, captained by Christopher Jones, had been bound for the mouth of the Hudson River. The ship took a northerly course to avoid pirates, but the decision to avoid the then widely traveled sea lanes to the New World took the ship into bad weather, which had blown the Mayflower miles off course and left the ship damaged. Off Cape Cod, the adult males in the group made the fateful decision to build an entire colony where none had existed prior. They wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.”
After a few weeks off Cape Cod, they sailed up the coast until they reached Plymouth. There they found a Wampanoag Indian village that had been abandoned due to some sort of plague. During the Winter of 1620-1621 they lived aboard the Mayflower and would row to shore each day to build houses. Finally, they had built enough houses to actually move to the colony, but the cold, damp conditions aboard the ship had been costly.
Some 28 men, 13 women (one of them in child birth), and 8 children died in that winter. Governor John Carver would die in April. His widow, Kathrine White Carver, would follow a few weeks later. There is some recent archaeological evidence suggesting that some of the dead were butchered and eaten by the survivors.
The Mayflower and her crew left for England on April 5, 1621, never to return.
About 40 of the Pilgrims were religious Separatists, members of a Puritan sect that had split from the Church of England, in defiance of English law. In 1609, they immigrated to Holland to practice their religion but ran into problems there too. Others in the group had remained part of the Church of England but were sympathetic to their Separatist friends. They did not call themselves Pilgrims, that term was adopted at the bicentennial for the Mayflower voyage. The members of core Separatist sect referred to themselves as “Saints” and people not in their sect as “Strangers.”
In March 1621, an English speaking Native American, named Samoset, visited the Plymouth colony and asked for beer. He spent the night talking with the settlers and later introduced them to Squanto, who spoke even better English. Squanto introduced them to the chief of the Wampanoag, Massasoit.
Squanto moved in with the Pilgrims, serving as their advisor and translator. The friendly Wampanoag tribe taught the Pilgrims how to hunt and grow crops. The two groups began trading furs with each other.
William Bradford, a Separatist who helped draft the Mayflower Compact, became the longtime Plymouth Governor. He was also the writer of the first history of the Plymouth Colony and the Mayflower. Bradford’s more notable descendants include author, dictionary writer and scholar Noah Webster; TV chef Julia Child; and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
In the fall of 1621, 399 years ago, the Pilgrims invited their Wampanoag Indian friends to a feast celebrating their first harvest and a year in the New World with a three-day festival. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving.
Today is a national and state holiday. Schools, banks, government offices and many private businesses are closed.
Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels
Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192.
Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.
The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.”
Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.”
“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.
As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.
ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.
ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two.
Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on one counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another five counts.
Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”
Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.”
“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.
Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his sentence should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.
“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law. Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”
Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game.
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.