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Opinion | Great examples of poor leadership

Glenn Henry

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Let’s talk about some great examples of poor leadership, unacceptable management, and illogical decision-making, coming from our Montgomery County School Board, Alabama State Department of Education, and the Montgomery City Council. Just a few days ago, the local School Board approved an unrealistic initiative, to increase the millage rates, concerning property taxes, to raise annual fees.

I don’t know how much more, of this type assistance, that we can stand. This is not, the type help, we need. The following are reasons that I can’t support this measure.

The city has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, at ten-cents per dollar. The chairman of the State Legislature Education Trust Fund, has stated numerous times, that most education dollars are generated from sales taxes.

A homeowner who purchases a $150, 000 home, with a 30-year mortgage, will pay over $300,000 for total dollar payoff, due to the interest fees, exceeding the principal, or amount borrowed.

The Montgomery Public School System, is currently under state intervention, and take over status. Their accreditation status, is currently deemed, under review. The MPS has hired an attorney, and they are paying $400 per hour, so that the public is hoodwinked, into believing we need to pay them more money.

According to national data, our State Education system, is dead last in math.

Due to mandatory federal laws, concerning on-base and off-base education, for kids of military families, assigned to military installations; and Department of Defense Education Activity policies; the families assigned to Maxwell-Gunter AFB, are currently attending schools out of district. For instance, in counties such as Autauga, Elmore and Pike Road City Schools. Obviously, these military families and their children, still can’t be properly served under the current low standards, poor academics, and unacceptable conditions, and the present state of the MPS. The federal law clearly states, that sufficient and adequate education, must be provided by the Local Education Agency, which is MPS.

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Many of the parents assigned at Maxwell-Gunter, include our international allies from around the globe, and some of the best and brightest minds on the planet. Some are scientists, astronauts, physicists, top engineers, fighter pilots, top military strategists, professors, and instructors. Some adult military and civilian students, at the base military professional education schools; may be from top leader military families of other countries, and persons; who may be considered royal family members, within their nations. Additionally, our education game, must be raised, due to the new creation of our U.S. Space Force. Many space families from around the globe, will surely be attending schools at Maxwell-Gunter AFB.

While the county school system does have a few magnet schools that are doing well and are suitable for attendance, most are not.

Most of the positive compliments about the school system, are coming from the educators themselves, whom are evaluating themselves. Just a few days ago, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and MPS superintendent Dr. Anne Moore; were patting themselves on their backs about progress. The Alabama State Department of Education, on their own website, show agencies under their own authority who have been; and they will be evaluating, reporting, and making decisions about themselves. I highly recommend, that a top education agency, from outside our state, not closely tied to ALSDE, and their own websites, conduct a real evaluation, before the MPS is removed from its current intervention status. Public agencies evaluating themselves, are not going to take the proper corrective, nor punitive actions against themselves, and their own entities.

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AdvancEd, now known as Cognia, is under the ALSDE authority, devised a color- coded evaluation system, that gave different factors, and ranges, which no one can calculate. The factors being measured, weights assigned to each factor, formulas, baselines, equations; still can’t be verified for accuracy nor reliability, when tied to the colors. When persons create a system, and they can’t explain it, and the numbers don’t jive, it’s probably not reliable, nor credible.

The Alabama Charter School Commission is also under the authority of the ALSDE. A new charter school in Montgomery, is currently under chaos, facing lawsuits and turmoil. A one -year old Charter School in Mobile is already on the failure list. Now we have, poorly performing schools under the flagship of MPS regular schools, and charter schools. My perception is that, we are being offered more junk—not more quality schools. Someone at the ALSDE, must put a freeze, on placing more poorly performing Charter schools into our communities.

Whites and middle-class blacks, have rightfully left the MPS system, and they have placed their kids in private schools, or they are home schooling their kids. Not long ago, I spoke with a white family with three kids. They were paying $45,000 per year, in costs for private school fees, and other charges. They are tax payers too. I highly recommend, that the State Legislature and Congress pass laws that will provide families, who are placing their kids in private schools; and homeschooling, be provided the per student dollar amounts; to defray some of their costs and fees. Right, now they are receiving nothing for their education tax dollars. They would have more options.

Public entities and taxpayer funded-school agencies, should not be rewarded for poor performances. Money can’t remedy poor leadership, unacceptable management, nor continued illogical decision-making.

Most devasting, rather than consolidating, and closing many poorly performing schools, the MPS is adding more poorly performing charter schools, in an attempt to justify a property tax increase. Throughout the state, persons who are supposed to be running the Charter schools have departed in the dead of night; and no one can really nail down who is in charge. In the new, local Montgomery Charter School, many teachers have quit, and many complaints have been surfacing, about 10 bosses walking around; hitching up their pants, claiming that they are in charge.

Now, we all know very well, that is too much leadership and management, within one school building, for only one school, with a principal already on station.

Hopefully, some one within the Montgomery County Commission, and the County Legislative Delegation will stop the initiative to increase millage, based on the aforementioned issues. The one thing that is the biggest issue, and challenge, is the lack of Trust from the public, concerning the MPS and the ALSDE. In the past, the Montgomery County Commission, has strongly supported the millage-rate property tax increase.  I look forward that, they will do the right thing this time.

I hope that our leaders, will begin building an education system based on core values, such as honesty, integrity, trust, accountability, responsibility and prudent decision-making.

I highly recommend, that citizens vote yes on March 3, concerning the Appointed State Education Board Amendment (SB397), legislatively referred constitutional amendment. So that we can begin to build an education system, that all will, of which, be proud.

Another example of poor leadership, is coming from our Montgomery City Council. Concerning the implementation of Occupational Taxes in Montgomery. The following reasons are why I oppose it.

The City has a ten-cent sales tax, which is the highest in the nation. Many other cities, also used the unrealistic logic, that if employees don’t live in the city; and they drive from outside the city, and work here; they should pay because they are using our city services. Every day, people who don’t live in Montgomery shop in our city, and they pay for services, and all applicable taxes just like everyone else.

Montgomery is proposing to initiate, an occupational tax on Everyone who works in the city. Numerous residents are complaining, that if the occupational taxes are imposed, the amount of their annual occupational tax fees would exceed, the cost of their total annual residential property tax bill, of around $700. That would now be $1400 annually, for the property tax bill and the occupational tax fees.

Further, if government continues to take, more and more of employee earnings, we will become slaves. Most revealing, are the reasons most people are travelling, from outside Montgomery, is because of a poorly performing Montgomery County school system.

The travelling employees have the skills, knowledge and abilities to perform in the high skill jobs. Most are well educated, and they have the proper training needed to perform those tasks. They should not be punished for that.

Many city councils, copy what other cities do, and use their poor logic. The problem is, if you copy someone else’s paper, they both receive F’s for their grades.

Montgomery City Council members, local and State School Board members, must do a better job of educating and training its citizens. Additionally, make better original decisions, to really move our city and Great State forward. I thought that with all of the new committees being formed on the local School Board, and new city committees, that new ideas would be presented.

Too many persons are being placed on committees and boards, who are great at parliamentary procedures, and they are earning an A+; although in the wrong area.  We must ask the following persons to resign, from their current positions.  Those who arrive at meetings unprepared; members not providing solutions; those making appearances at meetings with no input; members who have conducted no research; persons who agree with other members when it’s totally wrong; persons making decisions, not in the best interest of our country, state, county and city.

I fully support HB147 which recently passed in the House County Municipal Committee. The Bill would protect all workers from double taxation through occupational taxes.

As a former doctoral-level student in Public Administration, I was taught that a city’s power and authority, are derived from the State Constitution and the State Legislature. Due to the supremacy clause. The Legislature can also change, and take away power from the cities.

In closing, I Love city councilmen Charles Jinright and Glen Pruitt. However, I must disagree with them on these issues, and I must do the right thing by supporting HB147. Respectfully, I’m asking the citizenry, to do the same.


Glenn Henry is retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has been a high school teacher and university adjunct professor. He has earned numerous IT Cisco certifications. He is a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Teresa.

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Opinion | State Sen. Will Barfoot should be highly commended

Glenn Henry

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State Senator Will Barfoot should be highly commended, for sponsoring Senate Bill 105, in which military families, require school districts, operating magnet schools, to accept enrollment applications, for military children, where families have received transfer orders, to Alabama military installations.

Additionally, Sen. Barfoot (R) Pike Road is sponsoring Senate Bill 106, called the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, formation of charter schools, on or near military installations, with focus on serving military dependents, authorized. Tenure for certificated teachers temporarily serving in charter schools are preserved.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, recently correctly stated that his goal is to “make Alabama the most military-friendly state, in the country.”

Over one year ago, former President and Commander of Air University, Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, advised the public, that 56 percent of students attending the Air War College, were not bringing their families; due to a poorly performing local school system, that was under intervention, and take over status. Mandatory, federal laws, state that adequate, and sufficient education must be provided, to kids of military families, by the Local Education Agency, which is, the Montgomery Public School System.

Gov. Kay Ivey drafted, an outstanding tentative education initiative package, of ideas, by reaching out to Lt. Gen. Cotton, to ask the families at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, to provide their list of wanted items. The Governor’s directives to her staff, were very clear; provide the families at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, with everything, they put, on their list.

The governor also ensured, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford were notified. Emergency education funding was requested. Additionally, the acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan, and the Chief of Staff Air Force Gen. David Goldfein were contacted.

Through Gov. Ivey reaching out to Lt. Gen. Cotton, the education committees were formed; with successful results. Currently, the military children at Maxwell-Gunter, are attending schools out of district, in counties such as Elmore, Autauga, and Pike Road City Schools, regardless if they live on base, or off base. Families living at the family camp; within recreational vehicles, may enroll their kids, in the on-base school. Faculty, professors and instructor kids, may enroll out of district.

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It is critical that SB-105, and SB 106 pass, successfully, through the House and Senate.  Additionally, Gov. Ivey, Lt. Gov Ainsworth and Sen. Barfoot, are exactly right; on their current direction, and their proper and correct road, being travelled, due to the following reasons.

Today, the Montgomery Public School system, is still under intervention, and this education system, is not moving forward. Other military bases in Alabama, are facing similar situations, in which the Local Education Agencies, are not providing, adequate and sufficient education, outside the military base gates.

The on-base Maxwell-Gunter Elementary and Middle School, and its principal Mr. Paul Hernandez, have been deemed, Top-Notch School, and Top Principal, over recent years according to the Department of Defense Education Activity Americas.

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I taught at Maxwell-Gunter, for two years, and I never had to send, one student to the office. The Parent Teacher Association at Maxwell-Gunter, is the best on the planet. I thought the parents were teachers. They are in the schools, from sun up, to sun down, helping to mold, and shape our next generation of airmen, wingmen, astronauts, scientists, doctors and future Air Force Academy cadets.

Many military parents, in private, are very concerned, their kids have the options, and opportunities to attend the very best schools, not the worst schools. Parents do not want their kids in unsafe environments, nor in class rooms, where the students are cursing at the teachers daily.

Over the years our Air Force Secretaries, Colonels and Generals, have spoiled us, by providing, the best of everything. Education is taken very seriously, within our military services. Our Air Force, and our Space Force, can’t remain number one, throughout the world, without the best education, top training, most effective hardware, and fastest software systems.

At this juncture, the only adequate, safe and sufficient schools, that I see in Montgomery, are a few of the magnet schools, private schools, or home schooling. A new Military Magnet school on the military base, or near the base, would be awesome.

I would also highly suggest, that the appropriate standards, of the Military Magnet schools, be set at the same high standards, and the current top cultures, of the Department of Defense Education Activity for K-12. Due to their proven excellence in education, and their top-notch academic advancements. Many students at Maxwell-Gunter, are highly performing, and virtually mastering, robotics in grades, 6 through 8.

Therefore, we should commend, Gov. Ivey, Lt. Gov. Ainsworth, and Sen. Barfoot; and support them in their efforts, in making our state the most military friendly in the nation. Their initiatives, will provide, much needed assistance, not only for Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, but for all military installations in Alabama. Our ultimate goal is to attract military families to our Great State, and retain the current military families—not run them away.

This one, we must get right. Other states would Love to have our military families. Our state leaders are making sure, that we do everything, in our power to keep them. We can’t let other states, out work us, nor out hustle us, through their better education and training systems.

Just as a matter of information, in working with Gov. Ivey, in an unofficial capacity over the years. A lot of top Department of Defense officials, and top Air Force and Space Force leaders, along with local Air Force leadership, such as Lt. Gen. Cotton, and  42nd ABW Commander Col. Patrick Carley; have been very gracious, in supporting Maxwell-Gunter families, and our regional communities, to ensure that we continue to have the best education, and training systems.

Our top Department of Defense, civilian and military leaders; and our Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Chief of Staff Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, have always, had our Six, and we have always, had their Six. There is absolutely, no doubt about that!

Glenn Henry is retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has been a high school teacher and university adjunct professor. He has earned numerous IT Cisco certifications. He is a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Teresa.

 

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Opinion | The workforce superhighway—stay clear of malfunction junction

Ed Castile

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As you merge onto the Workforce Superhighway in search of that dream career, don’t venture into dead ends or get lost at malfunction junction. Instead, look for signs directing you to AlabamaWorks!

There are several ways to enter the workforce superhighway and get on the right path. On-ramps include the Alabama Department of Labor’s Career Center System with offices placed strategically in 50 locations, or via one of Alabama’s Community Colleges that are conveniently located across the state. Many will enter the workforce highway via one of the seven regional workforce councils representing Alabama’s seven workforce regions. While others will enter through one of Alabama’s existing employers through work-based learning initiatives, such as the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.

The great news is that there are thousands of job openings in all sectors of Alabama’s economy including aviation, forestry, chemical, automotive, bio-medical and information technology. Alabama companies are paying premium wages for employees with a positive attitude, good work ethic and the appropriate skill sets. AlabamaWorks! provides a roadmap to these great jobs and it’s just two clicks away. (www.alabamaworks.com)

Remember when career resource programs were siloed, loaded with government acronyms and frankly, not user friendly? In those days, to the unexperienced eye, all workforce roads led to nowhere. Even harder to understand were the state and federal programs which were designed to help, and yet always seemed to be just out of reach. It was as if one road led to another road, which led to another, and eventually people careened off the highway at malfunction junction.

To help untangle the malfunction junction, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her Success Plus plan mandating that Alabama’s workforce programs work together to help citizens find credentials of value that will lead to a self-sustaining career. The goal: 500,000 additional credentialed workers in the workforce by 2025. To succeed, workforce agencies are working towards becoming more user friendly, untying the complicated knots and cross-training staff on multiple programs. Therefore, when a citizen enters from any on-ramp on to the workforce highway, they will find that there are no detours or road blocks. Rather, they will find friendly and helpful workforce professionals ready to assist.

Credentials may be earned as a student completes their K-12 education, during college or as an apprentice. The credential may also be an occupational license or industry recognized certification needed as a job requirement, or to advance to the next level.  There are thousands of potential credentials available, and they can be stacked, sequenced and aligned in a progression of increasing skill to assist Alabamians as they travel the workforce superhighway.

Now that you are successfully navigating the superhighway, how do you know what a credential of value is and if it is legitimate? Gov. Ivey has appointed a group of professionals though the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways (ACCCP) to make sure the credentials available in Alabama are truly of value. When you successfully attain your credential of value, then what? You want to make sure your credential is added to the Alabama College and Career Exploration Tool (ACCET) being created for you to market your workforce profile online where employers are looking for employees with credentials. The ACCET is a digital resume that helps you find employers and employers find you. The ACCET is currently under development and will be available in the fall of 2020.

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The workforce superhighway has many intersections and AlabamaWorks! is the ever-evolving road map. This one-stop online workforce resource will turn malfunction junction into a distant memory. Happy motoring and stop by anytime,  www.alabamaworks.com is open 24-7.

Ed Castile, Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Workforce Development Division, Director of AIDT

 

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Opinion | The New Way Forward Act is an assault on our borders

Bradley Byrne

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A clear warning of how far to the extreme left the Democratic Party has moved is the recently introduced New Way Forward Act.  This immigration bill would totally uproot the rule of law, provide amnesty for illegals here, and import dangerous criminals into the United States.  By allowing foreign citizens who committed serious felonies to stay in our country, all Americans would be at risk.  And by granting new rights to illegal aliens, the New Way Forward Act would prevent our immigration officials from detaining most illegal immigrants.  Shockingly, over forty of my Democrat colleagues in the House have cosponsored this legislation.

We have long known that many on the far left have the goal of global open borders.  They do not appreciate that to keep our country prosperous and strong we must have real, enforceable borders.  Put another way, our country won’t be any different from the rest of the world if we eliminate our borders and let whoever wants here to enter.

Simply put, the New Way Forward Act aims to decriminalize illegal immigration altogether.  It would turn us into a sanctuary nation where anyone who desires entry can come in almost unchallenged.  It grants new rights to illegal border crossers that would effectively shut down our already overworked immigration courts.  For example, those detained for illegally entering would be entitled to an initial custody hearing within 48 hours, and detainees would be entitled to a new bond hearing every 60 days.  This is designed by the bill’s authors to be impossible!

The bill also includes provisions to block local law enforcement from performing immigration enforcement activities.  Why would we not want our law enforcement to actually enforce our laws?  Isn’t that what they are for?  This explains a lot of what some of my more liberal colleagues in Washington think about law and order.

Perhaps most shockingly, the New Way Forward Act removes certain felonies from consideration when considering whether detainees should be allowed entry to our country.  Why would we want to protect convicted felons from being deported?  This legislation would roll out a welcome mat for them.  The bill would even repeal laws that make illegal entry into the United States a crime.  Can you imagine the chaos this would bring?

This bill has one goal – open borders.  That’s why Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says this bill would “gut the rule of law” in the country.

I have been to our southern border.  I’ve seen firsthand the challenges facing our border patrol agents.  Without question, gutting our immigration laws would make their jobs tougher.  It would erode American safety and incentivize illegal immigration.  Yet Democrats overwhelmingly support sanctuary city laws that allow jurisdictions to refuse to enforce our immigration laws.  These sanctuary jurisdictions go further by stonewalling federal officials seeking to enforce our immigration laws.  But it gets even worse.  States like California have passed laws to grant driver licenses to illegal immigrants.  Shockingly, these laws could even automatically register illegal immigrants granted driver licenses the right to vote in elections!

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Last week I signed on as an original cosponsor of the Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act.  The premise of this bill is simple: if you are a sanctuary city blocking the enforcement of our federal immigration laws, you should be blocked from receiving federal money.  This bill would prevent states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens from receiving important federal grants.

Unfortunately, common sense is something lacking in Washington.  I’m proud to be able to serve you by bringing Alabama values to the swamp.  I’ll continue working with President Trump to fight bills like the New Way Forward Act and to ensure our immigration policies serve and protect you, the American people.

 

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Opinion | We cannot allow Alabama to fall behind our neighbors

Fred McCallum

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As the Birmingham region enters a new decade, it is more important than ever in our increasingly connected world that Alabama’s largest city be equipped with modern wireless infrastructure that provides connectivity that powers opportunities for businesses and residents alike.

That is why the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) supports standardization of small cell deployment statewide – enhancing connectivity today as well as supporting 5G and technologies of the future.

Connectivity is a key issue in creating and sustaining a 21st century economy and workforce, connecting both urban and rural areas to enhanced broadband opportunities. Ongoing advancements in wireless broadband technologies are necessary to keep pace with consumer demand and are crucial to our state’s continued economic success. Without the ability to economically deploy the latest in wireless broadband infrastructure, we put at risk our ability to effectively compete in a digital economy.

The BBA has long supported increased access to broadband technology across the Birmingham region and the state of Alabama through our annual state and federal legislative agendas. Our support is reflected in our 2020 state legislative agenda, which lists this issue as a priority and specifically supports streamlining and standardizing the permitting process for small cell wireless equipment and services, allowing wireless companies limited access to public Rights of Way for the deployment of small cells and establishing permit fee limitations for localities.

We join with key community organizations like the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce in supporting statewide legislation that simply standardizes the permitting process for small cell wireless equipment and services, including broadband; allows entities providing wireless services, subject to existing applicable constitutional provisions, access to Rights of Way for the deployment of small cell equipment; and establishes permit fee guidelines for localities, allowing them to recover reasonable compensation while still encouraging broadband investment.

Small cell deployment is one way to ensure Birmingham and Alabama’s wireless infrastructure remains competitive, allowing both businesses and residents to thrive. More than half of U.S. states have already passed legislation that welcomes investment and removes barriers to deploying wireless infrastructure.

This new decade and the ones after it will require us to be connected to ensure the best for the Birmingham region’s businesses and its residents. Supporting small cell deployment is key as we look towards the future, continually making sure that, as the world becomes more and more connected, we in Birmingham and in Alabama do the same.

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We encourage state legislators to support this effort so we as a region and as a state can stay competitive in an ever-changing world.

 

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