Governor Ivey Announces ‘Take the Lead, Alabama’ Initiative

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced her ‘Take the Lead, Alabama’ initiative at a press conference, alongside legislators to express her steadfast commitment to education reform in the state of Alabama.


The Alabama Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 397 during the 2019 Regular Legislative Session. The constitutional amendment would  change Alabama’s current, elected State Board of Education to a governor-appointed Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education, if approved by the people of Alabama through a ballot on voting day.


It will also establish the Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, appointed by the commission, to replace the current state superintendent position. The governor’s appointments and the secretary must be confirmed by the Senate and will be required to have the geographical, gender and racial diversity that reflects our public-school systems here in Alabama.


“Since taking office, I’ve made improving education a top priority. As a former teacher, I recognize that strong leadership and a strong plan are necessary components to improving our education system,” Governor Ivey said. “Through my ‘Take the Lead, Alabama’ initiative, we will shake up how we do things in our state to improve educational outcomes for students in every region. I encourage every Alabamian to join me in supporting this constitutional amendment, so that Alabama can take the lead!”


Alabama is one of only six states with an elected school board appointing a chief state school officer. All of Alabama’s neighboring states have governor-appointed school boards.


Alabama Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh has been instrumental in the construction of this plan and sponsored Senate Bills 397 and 398 during the 2019 Legislative Session.


“I want to thank Governor Ivey for taking the lead on this. No issue is more important in Alabama than education. Next March, the voters will have the chance to send a strong message that we want a school board that is capable of making decisions in the best interests of our schools, teachers and students,” Sen. Marsh said.


The top states in The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) —Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Vermont, South Dakota, Iowa — have governor-appointed boards. Studies have shown that states where governors appoint state education chiefs perform better than states where chiefs gain their posts by other means.


Sen. Marsh continued, “I believe students learn best when innovation is allowed to take place in the classroom. If we have a school board that is made up of qualified individuals who are held accountable, we can increase local control, reduce the amount of time the Legislature spends on education reform and put the power back where it belongs, in the hands of educators.”


This constitutional amendment will establish the commission’s functions, as provided by general law, and will also specifically include emphasis on implementing a consistent course of study standards, comprehensive teacher certification and professional development programs, and an accountability and assessment program.


Immediately upon the new commission’s confirmation, the governor shall appoint a diverse team of current and former educators, administrators and other officials from across the state to consult with and make recommendations to the commission on a regular basis, relating to the operations and functions of the Alabama Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.


In conjunction with the passing of SB397, SB398 ensures the governor will consult with members of the minority caucuses in the Legislature when appointing minority members to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.


“I applaud the Legislature for giving final passage to a law that will guarantee the Legislature’s minority party a strong voice during the appointment process. Bipartisanship has and will continue to be a major focus of my administration,” Governor Ivey said.


Governor Ivey officially signed SB398 during her press conference Monday.


“This legislation reaffirms that in order for us to make substantial and positive changes to our state’s education system, we must all work together. By doing so, we will undoubtedly create a better future for our students,” the governor added.


Alabama voters will have a chance to support the constitutional amendment in March 2020.

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