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State Board of Education races are set

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Half of the elected seats on the Alabama State School Board are up for re-election this year.  Qualifying for those seats ended on Friday.

In state Board of Education District 2 Melanie Hill, Sybil Little, John Taylor, and Tracie West are all running in the Republican Primary.  Incumbent Betty Peters is not seeking another term

Adam Jortner is running for the place 2 seat as a Democrat.

For state Board of Education District 4, Don Wallace is running as a Republican.  Incumbent Yvette Richardson (D) is running for another term.

In state Board of Education District 6, incumbent Cynthia McCarty (R is seeking another term.  McCarty has no Republican primary opponent.  No Democrat is running in District 6.

For state Board of Education District 8 Rich McAdams is running against Wayne Reynolds in the Republican primary. Incumbent Mary Scott Hunter (R) is leaving the Board and is running for the state Senate.

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Jessica Fortune Barker is running for State Board of Education District 8 as a Democrat.

The school board has been rocked in recent years by controversy.

Student achievement has plummeted by most measures and the federal government’s U.S. Department of Education found that the state was incorrectly stating its graduation rate.

State School Superintendent Tommy Bice retired just before that was exposed and before new test results showed that the state was dead last in math scores.

The public schools are so bad that then Gov. Robert Bentley famously admitted to a meeting of economic developers that, “Our schools suck.”

The next state school Superintendent Michael Sentance was forced to resign after just 14 months on the job.  Former state School Superintendent Ed Richardson has been brought out of retirement as interim superintendent.

The current board is supposed to find a new superintendent by late spring or early summer.

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The Board has largely resisted pressure from the legislature to embrace wider school choice, including charter schools as an answer to the chronically poor performing public schools.

A frustrated state legislature stripped the Board of its oversight of the Alabama Two Year College System and has placed control of that system underneath an appointed board.  Some in the legislature, led by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, have actually introduced legislation to abolish the elected board altogether and make education more responsive to the governor.

Gov. Kay Ivey is emphasizing more pre-K classrooms, teaching coding and computers in middle school, and making the schools more responsible for workforce development.

The major party primaries are on June 5, 2018.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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