We had planned to publish an article this weekend regarding the constitutional amendment on the March 3 Super Tuesday ballot. But Alabama State Representative (and State Democratic Party Chair) Christopher England says it so much better.
Here is his statement in its entirety.
On March 3, Alabamians will go to the polls to vote for their candidates of choice, but they will also be voting on Amendment One. Amendment One threatens to abolish the state’s elected school board to replace it with a board completely appointed by the Governor. Before you sit down to mark your ballot on Tuesday, I hope you will consider a few important facts.
A “yes” vote on Tuesday would do away with the current eight-member, state school board which was chosen in elections (held in 2016 and 2018) with 1.6 million voters participating.
A “yes” vote would transfer the will and wishes of millions of qualified voters to a single state official, allowing the Governor to personally select and appoint nine people to form a new commission to oversee Alabama’s public schools.
A “yes” vote would eliminate the State Superintendent’s role, which would be replaced with a newly created position, the Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education. After being appointed by the Governor’s commission, this new position would also be subject to confirmation by the Alabama Senate.
Unfortunately, Amendment One doesn’t stop there.
Though it will not be on the ballot for voters to clearly see, you will also be voting to give the state’s appointed school commission comprehensive and sweeping powers. If the amendment passes, the new commission will be required to “adopt a course of study standards that ensure nationwide consistency and the seamless transfer of students from within and outside of the state, in lieu of common core.” This sentence was intentionally tucked away from voters in an effort to circumvent the legislative process and avoid deliberative debate and compromise to examine and evaluate the use of Common Core standards in Alabama.
Make no mistake, if passed, the impact of this amendment will be immediate. If ratified, the commission members will be appointed, and the state’s elected school board will be abolished. You should expect that to happen by the end of March at the earliest or by the end of the legislative session at the latest.
Sadly, within a couple of months, the school board that Alabama’s voters elected will be removed from office and replaced by the Governor’s appointments, and unnecessarily dropped into the hands and ever-changing whims of a super-majority legislature for confirmation.
Let’s be honest here. It’s not a well-kept secret. As a state, Alabama ranks last—or close to last—in just about everything. Some might try and convince you that this is an effort to move public education forward, but greedy power grabs rarely lead to sustainable progress. Our state’s education system should not be used as a political football.
When you go to the polls on Super Tuesday, before you cast your votes, I encourage you to remember this unassailable truth, passage of Amendment One would no longer allow the citizens of Alabama to retain the right to directly determine who best represents their interests in education.
Amendment One is another attempt to dismantle democracy, trading the will of the people for the wishes of one person. If we truly have hopes for a future that rises from the bottom of the achievement lists to provide a quality education for all of our students, then we must ensure all of our communities are represented and heard. I think the 1,650,113 voters who weighed in on the election of our current state school board might agree.