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State Sen. Smitherman: Ivey call to delay Literacy Act third-grade reading requirement ‘disappointing’ — ‘Just trying to get past’ election year

During the legislative regular session earlier this year, State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) successfully shepherded a two-year delay to a key provision of the 2019 Alabama Literacy Act, which requires third graders to be able to read at a third-grade level before being promoted to the fourth grade.

However, the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Kay Ivey after the conclusion of the 2021 regular session.

Last week, Ivey revealed her support for a one-year delay in the provision. She said she had asked for the legislation to be considered by the Alabama Legislature in next year’s regular session that begins in January.

Almost immediately, Ivey’s call gained the support of State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), who, as the House Education Policy Committee chairwoman, had been an advocate of the third-grade requirement and an opponent of the two-year delay.

In remarks given to Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Smitherman said he was “disappointed” by Ivey’s remarks and suggested the timing was to get beyond the 2022 election cycle. He also added that Ivey’s call did not square with her justification for vetoing Smitherman’s initial bill earlier this year.

“I heard myself the news, and I was rather disappointed,” he said. “And I was disappointed for a number of reasons, really. Number one — the one-year thing that we’re just trying to kick it down the road, and what concerns me is that it seems like we’re just trying to get past this year, which is an election year. But the one year, all it does is get us past this year. That doesn’t address, first of all, the criteria why the veto was established in the first place.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.