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Marsh, Reed celebrate historic education proposal, Common Core repeal heading to referendum

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) on Friday hailed the final passage of Marsh’s historic overhaul of the state school board, with Marsh saying that voters will now have the option to “put the power back where it belongs, in the hands of educators.”

SB 397 will be up for referendum on Alabama’s March 2020 primary election ballot.

In a statement after the House put the final stamp of approval on the proposal, Marsh said, “This is a great day for education in Alabama. In the spring the voters will have the opportunity to fundamentally reform education in this state unlike we have seen at any point in the past 50 years and move to a system that has proven to work in the states who are top ranked in education across the country.”

Alabama’s public education system was ranked number 50 in the United States in a report published this month.

“For far too long our children and our teachers have been held hostage and used as a bargaining chip and we have seen the sad results- last in the country in education,” Marsh explained.

SB 397 joins on the 2020 primary ballot another Marsh-sponsored constitutional amendment which would clarify that only United States citizens have the right to vote in Alabama elections.

“Next March, the voters will have the chance to send a strong message that enough is enough,” he outlined. “We want a school board that is capable of making decisions in the best interests of our schools, a school board that has the interests of our teachers and students at heart and a school board this resembles the face of education in this state.”

Remainder of Marsh’s statement as follows:

I believe our students learn best when innovation is allowed to take place in the classroom. That is not happening with our current system. If we have a school board that is made up of qualified individuals, we can increase local control and significantly reduce the amount of time the Legislature spends on education reform and put the power back where it belongs, in the hands of educators.

Finally, the voters will have the opportunity to remove the last vestiges of the failed common core standards. Like many, I wanted to give common core a chance to work but it is beyond obvious to anyone paying attention that it has not been a success. Repeal and replacing this failed system with strong standards, put forward by a reasonable school board, will only improve the quality of education for our students and put Alabama back on the right track of making our education system competitive on a national level.

I want to thank everybody in the Legislature who supported this bold reform. Change is never easy, yet members of the House and the Senate supported this legislation regardless of political party, economic status, race or gender. Every member of the Legislature who voted for this showed that they believe our children and their education come first and I thank them all for their support.

I also want to thank Governor Ivey. As I have stated in the past, there is nobody else in the state who could have built such a broad coalition of support. I truly believe that this is a watershed moment for education in Alabama and I thank her for her leadership.

Governor Kay Ivey was a major early proponent of SB 397, as was Reed.

In a statement Friday, Reed lamented,”Test scores in Alabama’s schools have been lagging behind the national average.”

“Teachers in the classroom are working very hard, doing everything they can to give students a chance at success,” he continued. “We need to make sure that Alabama’s teachers have strong support, from the top down in the educational system.”

“Close to 40 states already have appointed school boards of education, including some of the states with the highest educational rankings in the nation,” Reed concluded. “This is a solid reform — I appreciate Senator Marsh for moving this bill forward, Governor Kay Ivey for supporting it, and I urge the voters of Alabama to approve its passage in March.”

Read more about the bill here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn