One of the definitions of “farce” is “an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation.”
I can think of no better example than the effort by Sen. Del Marsh to repeal the Alabama College & Career Ready standards.
First Marsh was a staunch supporter of these standards. In an article by the Business Council of Alabama on April 23, 2013, describing a capitol rally in support of the standards, Marsh is quoted as telling reporters that any repeal effort was “off the table.”
And there were repeal efforts aplenty in the Alabama Senate. Sen. Scott Beason introduced SB403 to repeal the new standards in 2013. The first paragraph of this bill says, “Under existing law, the State Board of Education is directed to establish a core curriculum for every student in grades kindergarten through twelve in the state’s public schools.” This effort went nowhere because Majority Leader Marsh, who controls the flow of legislation in the Senate, was opposed.
Then in the same session Sen. Dick Brewbaker had a resolution calling for the state board of education to take action regarding the new standards. He wanted to insist that the board make sure our new standards were not soiled by any input whatsoever from any entity not in Alabama. This got out of the Senate, but was killed by then Speaker Mike Hubbard in the House.
Beason was back in 2014 with SB360. This time the first paragraph read: “Under existing law, the State Board of Education is required to establish curriculum standards for all K-12 public schools.” So, he dropped the wording of kindergarten through 12. But again, Marsh would not budge.
Next up was Sen. Rusty Glover in 2015 with SB101. This time he didn’t bother to change the first sentence. For all intent and purposes, his bill was the one Beason introduced. Again, Marsh opposed and the bill went nowhere.
Glover was back in 2016 with SB60. Again, virtually the same bill as he had the year before. It met the same fate because of Marsh.
Next in the batter’s box was Sen. Harri Anne Smith with SB415 in 2017. She got hers out of committee but told me that Marsh would not allow it to come up on the floor for a vote.
So now we are in 2019 and lo and behold, the steadfast supporter of more rigorous standards, Sen. Del Marsh, has found religion and has SB119, which is practically the same wording as all those before it, which again calls for repeal of the standards.
What changed? Marsh got stars in his eyes and began eyeing the U.S. Senate race in Alabama in 2020. Desperately looking for some way to draw attention to himself, he forgot his support of the Alabama College and Career Ready standards and turned on his former allies like the Business Council of Alabama.
He did it by basically plagiarizing the work of senators of the past. (Brewbaker, Beason, Glover and Smith are no longer in the Senate.) Where I come from, plagiarism gets you kicked out of class.
Last week a principal talked to Marsh and asked him what specific standards he objects to. He said that he had not seen them. A few weeks ago, a reporter asked him the same question and was told, “I will leave that to the educators.”
So, he supported the standards. Now he objects to something he has never seen. Plus, the standards were developed by Alabama educators he says should be in charge.
How do you NOT call this a farce?
The fact that he is doing all of this at the expense of the 722,000 students in public schools in Alabama makes it all the more so.
(Larry Lee is a public-school advocate and co-author of the study, Lessons Learned From Rural Schools. A former member of the Montgomery County school board, Lee can be contacted at Larrylee133@gmail.com)