I’m writing to you today in reference to the PREP Act that was passed out of Committee on Tuesday March 8.
During the hearing the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Del Marsh stated “You can’t look at NAEP scores and sit here at this table and say ‘We can do nothing.’”
That got me thinking, does that make it right to sit at the table and, while looking at the NAEP scores, do the WRONG THING just because it is SOMETHING?
Better yet, does it make it right to do SOMETHING that is the WRONG THING about low NAEP scores when the low NAEP scores are NOT THE THING that is wrong?
Yes, it is true that Alabama’s 4th graders ranked 51st in their NAEP math scores in 2015 as the Senator pointed out during the hearing. That highly inflammatory comment was made and you casually brushed it aside with the statement that ‘something has gone wrong with education in this state’. Do we not owe it to the children of Alabama, and to the taxpayers, to be more diligent in our assessments of our public schools and more precise in crafting proper solutions?
Shouldn’t we know what the ‘something’ is that has ‘gone wrong’ before drafting legislation that will affect the careers of approximately 50,000 professionals?
Let’s take a closer look at the NAEP scores that have been targeted by Sen. Marsh as the antecedent to weakening teacher tenure and tying Standardized Test Scores to teachers’ evaluations.
We have already established that Alabama’s 4th graders were ranked 51st in math in 2015, that same year they were ranked 41st in reading. Those are definitely numbers we should be concerned about, but is that the whole story? Would you be surprised to know that even with those numbers Alabama ranks 12th in math and 3rd in reading in the amount of growth achieved over a 10 year period, from 2005-2015? Only 11 states made greater gains than we did in math, and only 2 did in reading. We were making excellent gains in Reading until 2011 and in Math until 2013. I strongly believe these are facts we should not ignore in creating a plan to improve student performance.
Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what we were doing RIGHT as we made these gains? Better yet, we should be asking OUR EDUCATORS and ADMINISTRATORS what we were doing right, they are the education professionals after all!
We should be replicating our successes, not implementing policies that are flawed, unproven, and disruptive. The course that Sen. Del Marsh, Rep. Terri Collins, and former Rep. Jay Love have put us on concerning education in Alabama creates more questions than it provides solutions.
The one and only thing that is clear when we look at education policy created since our scores began to drop in 2011 is that ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is calling the shots in Alabama.
We can thank them for the Students First Act of 2011, the Accountability Act, the charter bill, the Longitudinal Data System, the Education Savings Account, AND THE PREP ACT.
I am certain THAT is the ‘something that has gone wrong with education in this state’ Sen. Brewbaker.
Of course, as a former educator you already know that, don’t you? The inner struggle you were experiencing in deciding how to vote was quite apparent. Here’s a bit of advice I give my children, when you are fighting with yourself that hard over a decision it’s because you know what is right and you just don’t want to do it. Always do what is right.
Please, don’t let this be the legacy you leave behind as you retire from your political career. As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee It is NOT too late to do what is right by the children of Alabama. Stand up to Sen. Marsh and defeat this bill, please, stand up for our children.
SOS Support Our Students