Amendment on March 3 ballot would change State School Board selection process

By PAUL DEMARCO / Guest Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

The March 3 Alabama Party primaries are finally here.

Alabama voters will have a long ballot to work their way through as they consider candidates for statewide office, county offices and delegates for the presidential nominees.

In addition, the ballot will include one constitutional amendment for Alabama voters to approve or disapprove.

Amendment One would change the Alabama State School Board from elected positions by state voters to appointed positions. The amendment replaces the school board with a commission for whom the members would be appointed by the governor and then have to be confirmed by the Alabama Senate. In addition, the state school superintendent position would be abolished and replaced with a state secretary of education.The board would move from an eight to a nine member composition. Commissioners would be limited to no more than two consecutive six year terms.

The Amendment was pushed through the legislature with the support of Governor Kay Ivey, who hopes an appointed new school board will be able move the needle in Alabama’s chronic education problems.

There is opposition to the Amendment from those that do not want citizens to lose their right to vote for the state’s top educators. The opponents also believe the appointments to the board could be selected without any education experience.

There is a lot of debate going on in the state regarding the direction of educating the students in the state public school systems and how to improve the current academic standards.

We will see soon enough if state voters agree with the changes to  selecting the state’s top educators on election day.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.