Michael Sentance Out as Alabama’s State School Chief

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance at his teachers’ cabinet.

Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, Michael Sentance, resigned on Wednesday effective immediately. Sentance was at the job for one year.

“I am humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as state superintendent in Alabama,” Sentance said in a released statement from the Alabama Department of Education. “There are many good things happening in public education in this state. My hope is that Alabama makes educating all children the state’s highest priority, allowing the state to make significant educational gains and truly becoming the jewel of the south that it has the ability to become.”

Resign is such a nice word, but he was on the verge of being forced out which is a shame as he was open to jettisoning Common Core.

Quinn Hillyer wrote that Alabama’s State Board of Education, whose members are elected, planned to consider firing him at today’s scheduled meeting. Apparently, discussion about firing him began several months ago and the concerns leveled at him by board members pining to out Sentance appear unfounded.

What’s the problem? It seems the problem is the fact he wanted to bring some change to the department. Can’t have that. He appears to have inherited a mess, and worked to clean it up.

Hillyer wrote:

Sentance has outlined an inspirational agenda and set of goals for the state’s schools and students. But in doing so, he has roiled the waters of the existing Alabama educational power structure — you know, that same power structure that has put Alabama near dead last in every measure of educational attainment. The state school unions — the worst in the country — are against him, because he has upset their apple cart. A good rule of thumb is if Alabama’s existing educrats are against somebody, he must be pretty good.

He added:

If you as a board member hire somebody from out of state, bring him in, and ask him to do a job, then you should be helping him to navigate unfamiliar territory, offering to ease his transition, and working extra hard to give him the tools and space he needs to succeed. I challenge the current board members — other than Mary Scott Hunter and Betty Peters, who want to keep him on the job — to show more than a pittance of examples of them actually doing any of this. (Whatever happened to southern hospitality? Whatever happened to Southern manners? And whatever happened to basic, business-like common sense?)

Sentance, prior to coming to Alabama, served as the Secretary of Education in Massachusetts and as the Senior Education Advisor to Massachusetts Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci. You know, Massachusetts who during his time as Secretary of Education implemented an education reform package that made the state a leader in K-12 education.

You can’t get there without rocking the boat.