Michael Sentance Out as Alabama’s State School Chief

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance at his teachers’ cabinet.

Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, Michael Sentance, resigned on Wednesday effective immediately. Sentance was at the job for one year.

“I am humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as state superintendent in Alabama,” Sentance said in a released statement from the Alabama Department of Education. “There are many good things happening in public education in this state. My hope is that Alabama makes educating all children the state’s highest priority, allowing the state to make significant educational gains and truly becoming the jewel of the south that it has the ability to become.”

Resign is such a nice word, but he was on the verge of being forced out which is a shame as he was open to jettisoning Common Core.

Quinn Hillyer wrote that Alabama’s State Board of Education, whose members are elected, planned to consider firing him at today’s scheduled meeting. Apparently, discussion about firing him began several months ago and the concerns leveled at him by board members pining to out Sentance appear unfounded.

What’s the problem? It seems the problem is the fact he wanted to bring some change to the department. Can’t have that. He appears to have inherited a mess, and worked to clean it up.

Hillyer wrote:

Sentance has outlined an inspirational agenda and set of goals for the state’s schools and students. But in doing so, he has roiled the waters of the existing Alabama educational power structure — you know, that same power structure that has put Alabama near dead last in every measure of educational attainment. The state school unions — the worst in the country — are against him, because he has upset their apple cart. A good rule of thumb is if Alabama’s existing educrats are against somebody, he must be pretty good.

He added:

If you as a board member hire somebody from out of state, bring him in, and ask him to do a job, then you should be helping him to navigate unfamiliar territory, offering to ease his transition, and working extra hard to give him the tools and space he needs to succeed. I challenge the current board members — other than Mary Scott Hunter and Betty Peters, who want to keep him on the job — to show more than a pittance of examples of them actually doing any of this. (Whatever happened to southern hospitality? Whatever happened to Southern manners? And whatever happened to basic, business-like common sense?)

Sentance, prior to coming to Alabama, served as the Secretary of Education in Massachusetts and as the Senior Education Advisor to Massachusetts Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci. You know, Massachusetts who during his time as Secretary of Education implemented an education reform package that made the state a leader in K-12 education.

You can’t get there without rocking the boat.

Alabama Pulls Out of PARCC and SBAC

Edweek reported late Friday that Alabama has pulled out of both testing consortia that it was involved in.

In an email to EdWeek, the state’s assessment director, Gloria Turner, confirmed that Alabama has bowed out of both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. She said the department of education “has decided to go in another direction,” but didn’t offer any more detail.

The move wasn’t yet official within the two consortia, since the requisite processes haven’t yet been completed. The decision leaves PARCC with 22 members and Smarter Balanced with 24.

Alabama, you might recall, has been one of the dwindling number of states that have been playing “participating,” or “advisory” roles in each consortium. That means the state has been a part of discussions, but hasn’t had voting power. It also hasn’t had to choose one or the other group, which a state must do when it becomes a “governing” member of a consortium, with the accompanying voting power.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley who sits as President of the State Board of Education offered a resolution that would have repealed the Common Core back in the fall of 2011.  Unfortunately it lost on a 6-3 vote with Governor Bentley, Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters all voting in favor of rescinding the standards.

Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily indicate that they will withdraw from using the standards.  They just won’t use these assessments.

Pre-Birth Education???

I was emailed by a friend down in Alabama who told me that early childhood education folks in her state are starting to think pre-birth or pre-natal to five, not just birth to five.  This is evidenced in a blueprint they submitted using Recovery Act funds.  Pay special attention to page 2 in the document embedded below:

Blueprint & Investing through the ARRA 2009.pdf

It is bad enough that the state is getting involved early childhood education and taking kids away from their parents at an earlier age.  Here is what they wrote:

Our goal is to use one-time funding to put into place important infrastructure components or building blocks for a coordinated and comprehensive system for young children pre-birth to age five. As an economic development initiative to support working families and build for a future of prosperity, there are few investments that will provide such a return. Because of the relatively small investments we currently make in young children and because there is such fertile ground for impact, few opportunities provide such a cost-benefit return. (emphasis mine)

What in the world do they anticipate doing for kids pre-birth?  I shudder to think.