By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
When the Alabama School Board chose Massachusetts Attorney Michael Sentance to be the Superintendent of Alabama’s school systems it was a controversial choice. That controversy only deepened when it was later learned that a certain member of the school board may have misled the public and the rest of the board about an ethics investigation into fellow candidate, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey. The controversy around Sentance’s hiring, the controversial of Montgomery Schools, and a series of lapses in judgement and protocol finally led Sentance to resign today, Sept. 13, 2017.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement, “Today, I received the resignation of State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance. I do not take this situation lightly, and as President of the State Board of Education, I will ask the Board to accept his resignation.”
Ivey said, “Over the past two years, Alabama has experienced far too many changes in state government. As with previous changes in leadership positions, we will use the pending resignation of the state superintendent as an opportunity to move forward and begin a new chapter in public education.”
Ivey continued, “The State Board of Education has an opportunity to refocus its efforts to improve, support, and better prepare Alabama students for the 21st-Century global economy, so that they can compete successfully. Education continues to be the foundation of our communities and a key piece of the fabric that holds our state together — now is the time to strengthen our education system.”
Ivey concluded, “I have spoken with Mr. Sentance, thanked him for his commitment to public service and education, and wished him well.”
The School Board was scheduled to meet on Thursday where it was speculated they would fire Sentance.
Sentance had been on the job a little over a year but he inherited a colossal mess. By and large, Alabama has among the worst public schools in the nation.
Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley famously told a group of economic developers, “Our schools suck.” Former Superintendent Tommy Bice retired just before test results were released showing that Alabama’s fourth graders were among the least competent at math in the developed world.
The U.S. Department of Education investigated Alabama schools and found that school administrators had falsified the state’s graduation rate to appear much higher than it actually was.
The Common Core aligned Alabama College and Career Ready standards have been largely disastrous and the state’s schools rankings have plummeted following adoptions of the unpopular new standards with the experimental teaching techniques.
The state has been furiously adding more pre-K classrooms in the desperate hope that perhaps that might somehow improve the state’s horrid scholastic performance; but way it is too early to tell if that will work or not.
Alabama also provides some of the fewest options for school choice in the country. Students at Alabama’s poorest performing schools can apply for a scholarship to attend a private school and the state legislature has passed a very limited charter schools bill; but few charter schools have been actually approved to this point.
Many conservatives fought to save Sentance’s job; but it has become readily apparent for some time that it was not a matter of when he would be fired or forced out but rather when would that happen.
Sentance had never been a superintendent, principal, or teacher before his controversial hiring by the board. The Board now has to select a new superintendent with major party primaries just nine months away making this an even more politically contentious process.