Tag: Alabama State Board of Education

Superintendent Sentance Resignation

Thursday, September 14, 2017

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Deborah Love 
(205) 587.6534

Since he was hired, Eagle Forum of Alabama maintained continuous contact with Superintendent Michael Sentance and offered our support on issues of importance to academics in Alabama schools. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

We were disappointed that the Superintendent did not replace common core with sound, proven academic standards.  A September 2017 McLaughlin poll indicates 68% of Alabama respondents view common core as federal overreach. Superintendent Sentance also had other opportunities to support local control and to move Alabama’s public education system away from federal interference that he did not fully utilize.

The board has received a 29 day extension for submitting Alabama’s ESSA plan to the Department of Education and should use that time to make needed changes.

While Eagle Forum is not privy to personnel related matters, we are confident that our elected Board of Education intended to act in the best interest of Alabama students and parents.  Interim Superintendent Ed Richardson has our very best wishes.  We are committed to working with the Superintendent and members of the State Board of Education to move Alabama forward with superior educational standards and opportunities for students.

The Alabama State Board of Education is an important institution in our state government that allows the public to engage with important decisions and changes made within the ALSDE. Without an elected State Board of Education, many problems and concerns within ALSDE would never be addressed or made public.  Alabama’s students and families should always be the primary stakeholder. Without an elected board, their voice in this particular decision would not have been considered.

“Could the new state school superintendent help repeal Common Core?” by J. Pepper Bryars on al.com

J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at [email protected].

Alabama’s conservative State Legislature should have severed our connection to Common Core years ago, but thanks to a rather muddled opposition effort and lack of responsiveness from our lawmakers, the disastrous scheme not only survived initial repeal efforts but it’s now on the verge of becoming a settled issue.

Just ask Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh about any further attempts to replace the standards.

“I don’t think this body really wants to deal with it, yet it keeps coming up and taking up time,” Marsh said earlier this year after a vote to repeal Common Core was postponed. “Hopefully, we addressed it for the last time today, but if it keeps coming up I will vote against it.”

With a bit of luck, the recent appointment of Michael Sentance as our state’s superintendent of public schools will cause lawmakers like Marsh to take another look at the growing body of evidence against the scheme.

Sentance has been an opponent of Common Core in the past and recently worked to have it thrown out in Massachusetts, where he once served as the state’s secretary of education.

While it remains unclear what Sentance will say about Common Core once he’s in Montgomery, he obviously hasn’t been fooled by the cleverly marketed yet woefully inadequate, completely unproven, and thoroughly domineering national system of standards. He saw first hand how Massachusetts was forced to lower its otherwise high standards to meet the scheme’s goal of redefining “success” as whatever the lowest common denominator was nationwide.

That’s what the “common” in Common Core is really all about: leveling the outcome so that all students end up with the same amount of education, and that’s achieved not by lifting the stragglers up, but by pulling the achievers down.

Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the basis of every other centrally planned scheme that we’ve suffered through.

To be fair to Marsh and others who support the standards, Common Core may have sounded like a good idea five years ago, perhaps even two years ago, but the actual results are now coming in and they’re all indicating the same thing: we’ve been fooled.

They sold the untested plan as a set of rigorous standards that would prepare our children for competitive colleges and challenging careers. But they’re not. They’re weaker, far weaker in fact, than other proven standards that we could have adopted.

Take mathematics, for instance. Jason Zimba, one of the primary authors of the math standards, admitted during a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 that Common Core wasn’t actually designed to prepare students for selective universities or careers in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields (STEM). It’s meant to be average, or “common,” and not rigorous at all.

If your child wants to be an engineer or enter another STEM-related field, shouldn’t you be concerned that our state has imposed a substandard standard upon his school? Or maybe you agree with Marsh and wish people would just quit bothering you about this “settled” issue.

We all want the best education for our children, but conservatives should have known better.

Anything planned in secret by a small group of unelected and unaccountable liberals, that wasn’t tried and tested in any sizable district or for any serious length of time, and was imposed without thoughtful debate was sure to be chock full of unintended consequences … and even a few intended ones that wouldn’t have passed if widely known.

Now we’re nearly stuck with it, and that’s also by design.

Before, local communities could change their district’s education policies – standards, texts, tests, etc. — because we vote on a school board who controls those things.

Now, if you have a concern with these new national standards, your local school board will simply pass the buck to the state school board, who’ll then pass the buck to the U.S. Department of Education … where it’ll become forever lost in an ocean of unaccountable and unresponsive bureaucracy. Your congressman might write them a strongly worded letter, but that’s about it.

Hopefully, the buck will now stop with Sentance, and he’ll help put an end to Common Core in Alabama.




Open Letter to Alabama State Board of Education

August 15, 2016

Open letter to Alabama State Board of Education

Dear Friends,

We congratulate you in your choice of Michael Sentance, JD, as our next superintendent.    Your determination to move Alabama from its current, uncharacteristic dead last position among all the other states was made apparent in your selection of a key player from the top performing state in the nation, Massachusetts.  This is a strong statement that the status quo is not good enough.

It was refreshing and hopeful to hear Mr. Sentance in his interview as he explained that Alabama’s problems are comparable to what Massachusetts faced, and as he eloquently suggested solutions like those that he implemented and that worked in Massachusetts.  Alabama’s success story will be even more dramatic when, God willing, Mr. Sentance puts his prior experience, his recipe for success, to work in Alabama.  We believe that the road to the finest moment in Alabama education may have just begun.

Again we applaud you for taking this bold step.  To have done less would have been a real disservice to our children and their future. We all agree with Mr. Sentance that we “want all kids to realize their destinies and their dreams”.

We have already contacted Mr. Sentance with our full support!


Eunie Smith, President

Leslie Whitcomb, Education Chairman




Alabama Applies for Federal Grant to Establish Statewide P-20W Database

Alabama School Connection

By Tricia Powell Crain on July 8, 2015

Action: Students are not Data

The State Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposed 2015 Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Model (CCGM) at its June 11 meeting.

Eagle Forum considers this plan to be beyond the legitimate purview of counselors and an overreach that could be harmful rather than helpful to students and their families.  Eagle Forum believes the family is the rightful place for inculcating values and determining career choices.  It states, “All students will receive a data-informed counseling and guidance program that promotes academic achievement, career readiness, and personal/social development.” (p. 1)

  • CCGM shifts the primary goal of school counselors from helping children to collecting data on students and pushing Common Core objectives. (p. 38)
  • CCGM sets goals for changes in students’ behavior, emotions, feelings, attitudes, values and beliefs, thus expanding public authority over private lives of students into the affective domain, which has never before been allowed in Alabama schools (p. 16)
  • CCGM mandates in K-2 exercises to “identify changing family roles” (p. 15), “various family configurations” (p. 16) rather than modelling a natural family to which all may equally aspire
  • CCGM mandates acceptance of alternative lifestyles (p. 16)
  • CCGM violates students’ fundamental right to privacy by requiring students to disclose criminal records, language spoken in the home, socio-economic data, family composition, disability, beliefs, thus also violating student/professional counselor privacy protocol (p. 39 -40)
  • CCGM implements a series of assessments (with data collection and retention) that can disserve students by limiting student academic options and career possibilities: an assessment in the third grade that sets a trajectory for career tracking (ACT Aspire), another single assessment in the 8th grade (ACT Explore), and another in the 11th grade (ACT WorkKeys) with the resultant “annual career plan” to be only “annually approved” by the parents.  Career exploration/planning is desirable, but career tracking is unacceptable in a free society.  (p. 12-13)

You may view the CCGM herePlease ask your State School Board member here, to preserve proper counseling roles and stop this new model.  It facilitates psychological testing on all children and opens the door for school based health clinics, which would further usurp parental rights and responsibilities.   

Eunie Smith, President
Eagle Forum of Alabama
[email protected]

Public Review of Alabama’s English and Math Standards

Alabamians United for Excellence in Education
Immediate Media Release

The process set forth in the Public Review of Alabama’s English and Math Standards announced 10/6/2014, is an apparent ploy to placate parents who see their children hurt by the imposition of common core standards, methodology, curriculum and assessments. This process will not solicit any meaningful discussion nor substantive correction of the dilemma in which the majority vote of the State Board and the inaction of the State Legislature have left students, parents and teachers in Alabama by virtue of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

To expect parents who are not fluent in educational jargon to suggest revisions to individual standards – especially when so much of the problem comes from the overall structure – is an utterly useless enterprise. As long as the state remains constrained by having adopted ACT common core assessments which are vertically aligned to common core standards, tinkering with the standards themselves in isolation is pointless.

Additionally, since common core standards are copyrighted, no changes can be made in them without express permission of the copyright holders [as evidenced most recently in the attached letter from the National Governors Association dated September 29, 2014, to the Missouri School Boards Association] AND from the U. S. Department of Education under the Alabama’s No Child Left Behind waiver agreement.

Only (1) a complete repeal of the Common Core Initiative with its aligned assessments and accompanying classroom materials and (2) its replacement with sound, proven, superior standards along with tests written in our state by our educators, will suffice.

Top Education Consultants Say Alabama Should Keep Its Own Sound Standards

At a press conference this morning at the Alabama State House, Sen. Dick Brewbaker, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and two nationally recognized curriculum experts explained why Common Core Standards are bad for Alabama.  Former Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education and current member of California’s Academic Content Standards Commission Ze’ev Wurman said:

“I believe that Alabama would be wise to retain its own 2009 academic standards in English Language Arts and in Mathematics, and to rescind its 2010 adoption of the Common Core standards. I base my position both on the academic quality of both sets of standards, as well as on the imminent risk of Alabama irrevocably losing control over what it teaches its students.”

Wurman backed up his position by arguing the following points:

  • The Common Core’s Mathematics standards are of similar quality as Alabama’s own, and their definition of college-readiness is sub-par when compared with actual university requirements and with the standards of foreign nations.  He cited Fordham’s comparison of Alabama and Common Core standards which showed the difference “too close to call” – no more nor less rigorous. http://standards.educationgadfly.net/ccss/executive_summary/
  • Assessment is important in driving curriculum, and the evolution of national assessment developed through federal sponsorship will undermine state control over textbooks, curricular stresses, and assessment costs
  • The U.S. Department of Education is already forcing the states to adopt its central command and control policy preferences through coercive measures, including by offering newly created waivers to NCLB requirements in exchange for adopting Common Core’s standards and their national assessment

His comments can be read in their entirety here.

Sandra Stotsky, a former Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education, agreed with Wurman and explained that Alabama’s current standards in English Language Arts are in many ways superior to the Common Core Standards and should be preserved.

“Alabama has almost nothing to gain from using Common Core’s ELA/R standards and much to lose.   Its beginning reading standards have already proven themselves, as the latest NAEP scores on grade 4 Reading suggest.   What could Alabama gain by using standards that have no evidence to suggest their effectiveness?  Or by using tests that may not address the important cultural content in Alabama’s own standards?”

She also commented on the mediocre quality of Common Core’s English language arts/reading standards in grades 6-12 and their lack of international benchmarking:

“Making this country competitive was one reason for developing national standards.  But this goal was quietly abandoned by the Common Core State Standards Initiative in favor of a single set of mediocre standards for all students. Yes, Common Core’s ELA/R standards may be somewhat better in K-5 than most of the state standards they are replacing, but they are not sufficiently rigorous in grades 6-12.  The bar is set much higher overseas because no other country expects all students to complete an academic high school or prepare for authentic college coursework.  Only mediocre standards and tests based on them will allow us to pretend that all students will be “college-ready.”

You can read her comments in their entirety here.

The Alabama State Board of Education will meet on Thursday at 9:30 in the Gordon Persons Auditorium.  The Board will vote on whether to rescind their adoption of the Common Core Standards.   We encourage everyone to attend to show support for continued progress under Alabama’s own education standards while preserving local control of education.   Gov. Bentley and Board Members Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters oppose Common Core Standards.

Alabama Reading Scores Catch Up To National Average

Alabama 4 graders’ reading scores have caught up with the national average for the first time in the state’s history.  It’s important to note that this was accomplished WITHOUT the Common Core Standards Initiative…

Alabama’s fourth-graders caught up to the rest of the nation in reading scores for the first time in the state’s history on the National Assessment of Education Progress, known as The Nation’s Report Card, but still trail the nation in math, data released Tuesday show.

According to NAEP results, released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, Alabama is one of four states to show significant gains in fourth-grade reading, and over the past eight years has shown a greater increase in scale than any other state, moving from 207 in 2003 to the national average of 220 on a 500-point scale in 2011.

Eagle Forum of Alabama was a catalyst for the Alabama Reading Initiative which is largely credited as being responsible for the improvements.  ARI brought Alabama back to a phonics-based learning program and has, as the article mentions, had worldwide recognition.