Wow. What a day.
Check out the full table for where all bills stand as of midnight on March 12.
Not only were key education bills discussed, but new bills have shown up of which you should be aware.
What Happened Today
Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee:
SB157 has bipartisan sponsorship. Take a look. It doesn’t happen often.
This bill “would require the Department of Human Resources to develop and administer Fostering Hope, a tuition scholarship program for designated youth who are, or were, in the state foster care program, including those children adopted from the program at the age of 14 or older.” A job training program is part of this as well.
Section 6 of the bill, beginning on page 6 of the bill, outlines eligibility requirements.
Those bills now head to the full Senate.
The Committee held off on voting on SB72, which would direct local boards of education to adopt a policy about virtual schools, and SB161, which would requires students to pass a civics test prior to receiving a diploma.
Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee:
After a long public hearing on the changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, SB71, Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the bill’s sponsor, decided not to ask for a vote, in an effort to address concerns brought forward during the hearing.
SB191, which would transfer responsibility for 25 2-year colleges away from the elected state board of education to an appointed board, received a favorable report.
SB1, changes to the Alabama Ahead Act (there are lots of changes, article forthcoming), received a favorable report after being substituted and picking up four amendments.
Those two bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee:
Heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee:
Heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Judiciary Committee:
That bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
House Education Policy Committee:
Representative Terri Collins, the Committee’s chair and the bill’s sponsor, said the Committee will convene after the House adjourns on Thursday and will vote on the bill. No audio in the meeting room currently listed.
The online Committee schedule shows SB45 will be the bill under consideration.
What Happened in the Chambers
After committee meetings were held, the Senate and the House convened for Day 4 of the legislative session.
The full Senate didn’t pass any bills today.
Thursday will be day 5.
The New Bills
Since the last update on all bills in general, two big “body” changes are in the works.
The first is a pair of bills, HB199 and SB191 (which already received a favorable report from Committee today), that will transfer responsibility for Alabama’s 25 2-year colleges from the elected State Board of Education to an appointed board.
From the bills:
This bill would establish an independent Alabama Community College System in lieu of the Department of Postsecondary Education and would provide for the assumption by the Chancellor of the system and the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Community College System of all duties and responsibilities for community and technical colleges in the state.
State Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter has been vocal in her opposition to these bills and no doubt we will hear more at Thursday’s State Board of Education work session (which begins at 8:30 a.m.).
— Mary Scott Hunter (@MaryScottHunter) March 11, 2015
The other big shift is seen in HB233 and SB174, which will change the name of the Department of Children’s Affairs to the Department of Early Childhood Education and elevate the position of Commissioner of the Department to the Secretary of Early Childhood Education.
Here is SB90, which would repeal the annual public reporting requirements in the Code of Alabama in § 16-6B-7, 16-8-37, and 16-11-24 would replace those specific requirements with the much broader language in the following paragraph:
The State Superintendent of Education shall annually provide to each local superintendent of education a listing of financial and other reports required to be published on the website of the local board of education and a listing of reports that are published on the State Department of Education website that provide accountability information to the public.
More research is needed on that one, for sure.
The Tim Tebow Act has been introduced (for how many years in a row?) as HB236. This would allow homeschoolers and those attending church schools to participate in extracurricular activities in public schools. Supporters in Alabama have a web site for additional information.
SB187 would allow boards of education to hire Assistant Principals through performance-based contracts in the same way they now hire Principals on contract.
Senator Rodger Smitherman has introduced SB195, the “Healthy Workplace Act”, which is designed to prevent bullying in the workplace. While not directed specifically at public schools, the subject of bullying among teachers and administrators is not new. This article from the National Education Association in 2012 claims that 25 percent of school employees claimed to have been bullied. It further claims, “The bullying of teachers has become a serious problem.”
The House convenes at 9 a.m., and the Senate at 10 a.m.
This is promising to be another remarkable legislative session. Stay tuned.