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Opinion | Once again, Del Marsh shows how little he knows about education

Bless his heart, Senate Majority Leader Del Marsh just can’t stop talking to reporters and proving that he is clueless about our public education system.  You can read his latest examples of just plain dumb statements in this article.

As expected, Marsh tries to explain why he wants Alabama voters to give up their right to vote for members of the state school board and let him and his cronies in the state senate handpick board members.  Let’s take a closer look at some of his statements.

“I don’t know if it’s personalities, I can’t really say. But at the end of the day, we should all want what is best for the kids of this state and to produce the best education system we can.” Marsh said. “What we’ve got right now does not appear to be functioning and it’s definitely not giving us the results in education, in terms of reading, mathematics, and ACT scores; it’s not happening.”

Senator, what is “not functioning” is you and other legislators passing education laws that make absolutely no sense and simply burden educators with more hoops to jump through for no good reason.  Take the charter school law you sponsored for beginners.  And don’t forget, charter schools are governed by an APPOINTED commission, you know, like you want to govern all of K-12 education.  How is this working?

Take a trip to Washington County and look at the disaster of Woodland  Prep charter and the antics of their conman “education consultant” Soner Tarim.  Talk about something “not functioning.”  And all because of a law you sponsored and put in place.

Marsh also said he does not believe this is taking away the voters right because they will still be able to have a voice in the process through the confirmation process that each appointee has to go through.

“It allows citizens to come down and sit in on that process and to find out what these people’s background really is and their philosophy in education,” Marsh said. “It is a better process to put people in governance for the long-term benefit for the state of Alabama. I firmly believe that.”

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Sweet Jesus.  Did Senator Marsh really say this?  This is another classic example of a politician thinking voters are morons and will fall for anything.

So the public can come to Montgomery and sit in on a confirmation process in which they have ZERO input and this is better than attending a political forum where you can ask questions of candidates for state school board what their positions are?

This makes as much sense as saying I can go to an Auburn football game and boo when Gus Malzahn makes another bone-headed decision and he will change.

“You have to look at the big picture,” Marsh said. “Yes we had some improvement but we’ve got a long way to go.”

The real problem we have is that Senator Marsh does not see ANY picture, much less a big one.  He does not understand that when you are dealing with 700,000 students who all have different needs and challenges, improvement of any sort is very, very slow.  For him, the BIG picture is focused entirely on test scores, which are hardly a measure of what is going on in a classroom.  Teaching a child to become a better test taker is NOT education.

I recently attended an awards ceremony in Gadsden where various people and organizations were celebrated for their work with students with disabilities.  It is amazing to see what is being done to prepare these students to become productive, taxpaying citizens.  This is not easy work.  It takes extremely dedicated educators to do it.  But in the senator’s world, none of this counts.

“We’re going to continue to push accountability because the tax payer demands that, and they should,” Marsh said. “And it’s our job to be as accountable as we can.”

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So how about Senator Marsh taking a look at his very own Alabama Accountability Act, passed in 2013, with the promise that that it would improve the lives of some of our most challenged students in some of our most challenged school systems?  We have now diverted $145 million from the Education Trust Fund so that 3,600 students can get scholarships to private schools.  A program that the University of  Alabama has studied and says has negligible benefit to those getting scholarships.

In my visits to schools around the state and conversations with countless educators, I have yet to find just ONE who has praise for Senator Marsh and his misguided efforts to impact our schools.

Instead, I remember the conversation with a principal who spoke with Marsh last spring when he wanted to do away with the Alabama College & Career Ready standards.  The principal asked the senator what standard did he most object to.

Marsh replied that he had no idea what these standards are all about.  The principal told me, “And I wasted 12 minutes of my life talking to this guy.”

Senator, you are a smart man, but you embarrass yourself every time you talk about education.


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