By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
State School Board Member Betty Peters (R), is urging citizens to contact their legislators to oppose Senate Bills 229 and 316.
Peters wrote, “Legislators return Tuesday and need to hear from you to oppose two education bills. Ask your House Representative to oppose allowing virtual schools a statewide read to pull local students and public funding. Urge a NO vote to S.229 (Brewbaker)…In the Senate, ask your Senator to oppose the legislature requiring its specific evaluation model for teachers. Let the state board do its job! Urge a NO vote to the PREP bill, S.316 (Marsh). Leave a message for your Senator at the Senate switchboard.”
The anti-Common Core group, It’s About the Child, wrote recently, “Eagle Forum of Alabama opposes the Prep Act, Senate Bill 316 by Senator Del Marsh. It was titled the Raise Act originally, and was previously connected to a State Longitudinal Database Bill. One important reason among many to oppose the Prep Act is that it will tie teacher evaluations to Common Core programs and tests. Eagle Forum of Alabama finds that the Prep Act pushes many of the same agendas as No Child Left Behind, which was a major educational failure….”
According to Eagle Forum of Alabama’s review of the Prep Act: “This system promotes centralized, not local control of education. Local school districts will be forced to adopt it whether they want this program or not. It will require No Child Left Behind outcome-based teacher evaluations. No Child Left Behind was a failed program because it tied teacher progress and work ethic directly to student performance on tests. Student performance is measured by tests. This bill requires exactly the same…It discourages good teachers from staying in public education. This bill increases the number of years teachers need to serve in order to receive tenure from three to five years. This bill does not provide a general raise. Instead, SB316 creates a bureaucratic system of rewarding school boards and lead administrators, not teachers…The fiscal note is three paragraphs long; it will be an extremely costly bill. Millions and millions of dollars every year will be poured into this program. Senate Bill 316 as introduced will increase the obligations of the Education Trust Fund by up to $18 million for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, by requiring the following appropriations: (1) the amount of $10,000,000 to the State Department of Education for the purpose of rewarding high performing schools under the Legislative School Performance Recognition Program; (2) the amount of $5,000,000 to the newly created Alabama Teacher Recruitment Fund, pursuant to the provisions of this bill, for the purpose of providing one-time bonuses in the amount of $2,500 to teachers who work in certain schools and an additional $1,000 for those teachers at the beginning of his or her fourth year at the same school where the initial bonus was received; and (3) the amount of $3,000,000 to the Alabama Teacher Mentor Program, to be developed by the State Department of Education, pursuant to the provisions of this bill, for the purpose of providing continuous improvement and growth of new teachers through the use of mentor teachers, who shall be compensated an amount up to $1,000 annually for their services as mentor teachers.”
School Board Candidate Jackie Zeigler said in her own statement, “This badly-designed method of evaluation will put teachers at the mercy of factors not within their control. What happens when a student has family problems or illness? I ask all friends of education to contact their state legislators. Ask them to just vote no on SB316, the PREP Act. I do not think the legislature can fix the bill, and I believe that the State Department of Education or the State School Board could better facilitate designing an evaluation system.”
Brewbaker’s virtual schools bill is meant to clarify existing law and provide additional guidance for the local school system, providing a virtual school program, and the local school of residence of the student enrolled in the program, in determining the distribution of State and Federal funds to the local school systems involved.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is the sponsor of the Prep Act. The bill narrowly received a favorable report from a Senate Committee and is awaiting action by the full Senate.
Senator Dick Brewbaker’s (R-Montgomery) SB229 has already passed the full Senate 19 to 8 and is awaiting action by the Alabama House of Representatives Education Policy Committee.