Most folks don’t pay much attention to primaries. They believe the real race is run in November. But in Alabama, in many places, the real race is the primary, particularly where one party dominates the district.
This is particularly true in three of the four State Board of Education district races which are up for election. While Dr. Yvette Richardson, in state Board district 4, has no opposition in the primary or the general election, state Board districts 2, 6 and 8 will be decided upon in the primary election as there is no opposition from the other major political party.
Please note that independent candidates have until June 3 to gain ballot access as do minor parties, so if independent or minor party candidates gain access, then the primary winner will face that candidate in the general election.
The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) has produced some fabulous maps of the state House, Senate and Board of Education districts by school system. Some school systems are split among two districts. This is important because while you may not be able to vote in a particular district, the winner of the election may end up representing a portion of your school district.
In state legislative races, barring any independent or minor party candidates gaining access on June 3,
- Five state Senate seats (of 35 total) will be decided in the primary
- 28 state House seats (of 105 total) will be decided in the primary
More on these districts and primary races soon.
Know Where Your Chosen Candidate Stands on K-12 Education Issues
There are a number of political forces at work in this election. And education has always made strange political bedfellows. Education issues, with the exception of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), rarely come up during a candidate’s campaign. And when education issues do come up, it’s usually about promising raises or increasing funding or something else that is related to money. Many candidates are cloudy on the details.
Which is why you need to know exactly where your chosen candidate stands on the issues facing our children in our schools.
State Board of Education candidates likely have the most influence over education at the state level, but state legislators have stepped into the arena on all of the following at one time or another since the 2010 election. It is likely that many of these issues will come up again, perhaps as early as the next legislative session.
The Issues in K-12 Education
Ask your candidate his or her stand on the following issues and what they plan to do to impact the issue:
Common Core State Standards. Keep them or repeal them?
Evaluating Teachers Using Student Test Scores. Good way or bad way to evaluate teachers?
Standardized Tests. Too much? Too little? Improperly used and administered?
Charter Schools. Allow them or keep them out of Alabama?
State Superintendent. Elected or appointed?
Public Education Funding. Too much or too little? Allocate state funding based on needs?
Rolling Reserve Act. Keep it or repeal it? [The legislature enacted the Rolling Reserve Act of 2011, which stipulated that expenditures must be tied to percentage growth in ETF receipts over the last 15 years. Prior to that, a much shorter time frame was used, which did not account for long-term dips in the economy. The Act creates a Fiscal Year Appropriation Cap that limits the amount of money that can be made available to spend in a given year.]
Teacher Raises in the next four years. Yes or no? How much? Plan for sustainability for local districts who pay public school employees more than the state provides?
Transportation Funding. Should school transportation be fully funded by the state: yes or no?
Private school tax credits. Should taxpayers be given tax credits for private school tuition and/or contributing to organizations that offer scholarships to private schools?
K-12 versus Higher Education Funding. Is the split between the two determined properly and fairly?
Two State Budgets. Should the state have two separate budgets, the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund or should they be combined?
Your chosen candidate should have definitive answers to these questions. There shouldn’t be any “well, let me think about this” or “I’ll have to look at that once I get elected”. If your candidate doesn’t have an answer, consider your candidate uninformed. (And send him or her to the Alabama School Connection to get informed.)
Finding Your District, Absentee Voting and Photo Voter Identification
Know what House and what Senate district you are in. Find it here.
For you folks who are heading for a post-school-year vacation, absentee voting is available until the day before the election, but you have to apply for an absentee ballot by May 29. Click here for instructions on absentee voting.
Remember that photo identification is required for the June 3 primary!
Check out the League of Women Voters of Alabama‘s web site for more information about voting in the June 3 primary.
What other questions about K-12 education do you believe your candidates should be able to answer? Share here or on the Facebook page.