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Qualifications for serving on the Alabama ed board? None, apparently

Craig Clough | July 30, 2015



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Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley

For all the criticism they might endure, California education officials are rarely accused of being unqualified for their jobs.

That’s not quite the case in Alabama.

The state’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, is under fire for filling a vacancy on the state’s board of education with someone who lacks any credentials or background in education. As Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss wrote this week, the appointee, Matt Brown, is “a man with absolutely no history of participation or even interest in helping public schools to represent his district on the state Board of Education.”

Brown, 28, a design engineer at the Baldwin County Highway Department, did not attend public schools and has stated that his children will not. His only real connection to education is that he publicly opposed a report thatsaid Baldwin County would need 16-20 new schools by 2040. Brown was the organization’s head at the time, so he was in opposition to his own report, Strauss’ story points out.

Brown formed an organization that successfully defeated a tax proposal that would have helped the county pay for the new schools.

Public education activist Larry Lee wrote in a blog post the appointment “stunned educators” and in a letter to the governor said, “As chair of SBOE you know this body oversees 90,000 public school employees and a K-12 budget of $4.1 billion. The education community does not believe Matt Brown has the knowledge or experience to step into such a role.”

While there has been a lot of opposition in Alabama to the appointment, it is being cheered by the anti-tax crowd. “I don’t think there could be a better choice,” a Baldwin County school board member, David Cox, told AI.com, a website for three Alabama newspapers. “I think he’s going to do a great job.”

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