Albritton proposes education overhaul

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, December 6, 2017

This week, Sen. 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,” Albritton said, “it was clear that something needed to change.”

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, claims Albritton.

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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, such as the department of transportation, department of conservation and natural resources, etc.

And, just as the other departments, a department head shall be appointed by the governor and be approved by the Senate. This appointee shall 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,” said Albritton. “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, bit the elected State School board would also be replaced. According to Albritton, the governing board that replaces the elected school board would actually 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 shall be currently serving superintendents from seven districts within the State. The seven selected shall from the various regions of the State and shall reflect the variety, diversity, population and economic make-up of the State of Alabama. The remaining six shall be selected from the various local school boards in the state.

Again, these six shall 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.”