This week, Alabama Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) plans to file legislation that will overhaul the state’s education system.
“After observing the struggles over this past year with the State School bureaucracy system not functioning, it was clear that something needed to change,” Albritton said.
Since May, discussions were held with several local school officials within District 22 and from these discussions an alternative system was developed. The purpose of this proposal, which is encompassed in two pieces of legislation, is to place the local governments in the policy making role for the State and provide a clear means of holding accountable those responsible for teaching our children, according to Albritton.
Under this new proposal, the existing state superintendent position and the elected State Board of Education will be completely abolished. The State Department of Education will be advanced to a cabinet level position, similar to the other Departments of the State (DOT, DCNR, etc.). And, just as the other departments, a Department Head will be appointed by the Governor and be approved by the Senate. This appointee will answer directly to the Governor for the success or failure of the Department of Education.
“This is a different accountability than that which exists now,” Albritton said. “Under the current system, the Governor is a member of the school board, her authority and responsibility are diluted. With this new proposal the Governor is the primary accountable person, and should the department head of the BOE fail, then he or she is fired and another brought in. There is no haggling over contract buy-outs, nor worries over any election, except the Governor’s!”
Not only would the position of State Superintendent be abolished by this legislation, the elected State School board would also be replaced.
According to Senator Albritton, the governing board that replaces the elected School Board would have the effect of placing the local school systems in the position to actually make State policies.
This legislation, if passed, will establish a governing board of 13 members, all to be selected and appointed by the Department Head of the Department of Education. Seven of these members will be currently serving superintendents from seven districts within the state. The seven selected will from the various regions of the State and will reflect the variety, diversity, population and economic make-up of the State of Alabama. The remaining six will be selected from the various local school boards in the state. Again, these six will be from different regions and reflect the variety, diversity, population and economic make-up of the state.
“This governing board shall develop and adopt policy for the State Department of Education,” Albritton said. “Then, the next day, these same people will be back in their local school districts implementing that same policy. This is just common sense.”