Introduce Of Brand-new Education Group Could Signify Seismic Shift In Alabama Politics …

December 17, 2015 Nemes Politics

The group, which consists ofthat includes management from Alabama’s K-12 schools, neighborhood college system and institutions of greater learning, will be led by Dr. Robert Witt, Chancellor of the University of Alabama System and chairman of the Alabama Council of College and University Presidents.

Alabama Unites for Education will offer a platform so that all of us with a stake in Alabama’s future can collaborate to favorably affect our education system, from pr-K through higher education, Dr. Witt said in a statement revealing the group’s development.

In addition to Dr. Witt, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice and Dr. Mark Heinrich, Chancellor of the Alabama Neighborhood College System, are likewise includedassociated with the initiative, as are the three UA System campus presidents, Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue, and others.

This is an important day for education in Alabama, stated Dr. Bice. Alabama Unites for Education is proof of the progress we are making at all levels of our education system to collaborate to finest prepare our students for the 21st century. Never ever before has Alabama taken such a cohesive strategy to preparing our students for success. Alabama Unites for Education will bring individuals together to enhance our education system for all Alabama.

The statement got little media attentionlimelights late recently, however beyond the group’s fairly unclear description and the broad statements of assistance from education leaders, Alabama United for Education could cause a seismic shift in Alabama politics, affecting both policy debates and electoral fights for years to come.


The typically white Alabama Education Association’s increase to power started when it combined with the generally black Alabama State Educators Association in 1969. Paul Hubbert was called executive secretary of the newly-formed group and Joe Reed was called associate executive secretary.

For much of the next 4 decades, Hubbert was widely considered the most powerful political figure in the state, and he ruled with an iron fist. Hubbert was known for sitting in the gallery ignoring the Legislature and offering hand signals suggesting which way he wanted legislators to vote on whatever bill was being thought about.

However the group’s stranglehold on the state began to loosen in 2010 when Alabama voters chose Republican politicians to their very first legislative majority in 136 years. Hubbert retired in 2011, but the company he developed remained to be a major gamer in state politics, a minimum of for a period of time.

Here’s how the Fordham Institute described the AEA, which it labeled the most politically active teachers union in the country, in 2012:

Alabama’s union plays a bigger function in state politics than do its equivalents in almost every other state, with contributions from the AEA far overtaking those from other source. In the previous 1010 years, contributions from instructor unions represented 2.8 percent of all donations gotten by candidates for state office. Those contributions likewise equated to 7.7 percent of the funds from the 10 highest giving sectors in the state. Further, 9.7 percent of contributions to Alabama political celebrations originated from teacher unions, the greatest proportion we discovered in any state. These contributions represent an essential part of the AEA’s political strategy.

Conservatives had long saw the AEA as the Dark Side in Alabama politics, and not only since of its liberal political leanings (both Hubbert and Reed were leading officials in the Alabama Democratic Party), however likewise due to the fact that the state’s education system remained to rank 49th or 50th year after year, in spite of the AEA’s total control.

But Hubbert, who died in 2014, was considered to be a gentleman, even by his challengers, along with a savvy operator. However, the Dark Side got its Darth Vader when Dr. Henry Mabry ended up being Hubbert’s follower in 2012.

Under Mabry’s leadership, the AEA’s standing took a sharp nosedive, engaging Hubbert to pen a letter to the AEA Board of Directors advising them making a course correction.

“With fantastic unwillingness, however with absolute conviction of its requirement, I write this letter to you to inform you of the instant risk, in fact crisis, in which our association discovers itself,” Hubbert composed in September of 2014. “AEA has been a strong company for manyseveral years due to the fact that of its huge subscription and its strong monetary position. Both of these seem under risk now.”

Hubbert said that the problems facing the AEA originated from both inside and outside the company. The external challenges, he believed, were positioned by the Republican supermajority in the legislature and the strain on the AEA’s finances brought on by a brand-new law restricting them and other politically active organizations from making use of taxpayer resources to gather membership charges.

But internally, he positioned the blame squarely on the shoulders of his successor.

“The design, personality and efficiency of [Dr. Mabry] have developed intolerable friction in between AEA and members of both celebrations in the Legislature with resultant loss of regard, standing and impact,” Hubbert bluntly wrote. “Lawmakers and others complain that phone conversation are not returned during the session. The Executive Secretary’s design has actually been describedcalled a ‘bull in a china storeblunderer who brings the store with him anywhere he goes.’ The Executive Secretary has been advised to ‘stayavoid of the Legislature.’ Certain comments and concerns from members of the Legislature consist of, ‘How long is AEA going to keep Mabry?’ to ‘Mabry is eliminating AEA in the Legislature.'”

On top of that, Hubbert explained Mabry as a something like a riverboat gambler, throwingdiscarding instructors’ dues in high-risk stock exchange trades.

“Of certain and serious concern is the expenditure of staying reserve funds to buy high danger stock market ventures,” Hubbert composed. “The demand to take parttake part in extremely aggressive stock trades required Merrill Lynch to refusechoose not to service the continuing to be AEA financial investments and the investments were transferred to Stern Agee to participate in highly unpredictable trades. A full audit of these strategies and actions is necessitated. High threat trading in the market is no method to use member dues cash.”

Mabry was ultimately pushed out, however not prior to the 2014 election cycle, during which the AEA invested an estimated $20 countless instructors’ money on a dreadful election technique that led to nearly no success for the embattled company. Their scorched earth techniques consisted of funneling millions of dollars through dark money groups that positioned as conservatives and spread propaganda against Republican candidates.

As a result, the AEA that Paul Hubbert had spent a lifetime building was completely devitalized in a single election cycle.

“The AEA’s days are done,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) stated on election night in 2014. “We desirewish to work with the education community to establish good education policies. We’re dedicated to that. We want to make certain our instructors are paid well. We desirewish to make certain they have fantastic benefits. However we can do all that without the AEA union. Their mentality is ‘attack, attack, attack.’ I desire to deal with our state’s instructors directly, not with the AEA.”

That belief is shared by the majority of chosen officials around the state, producing an opening for the newly-formed Alabama Unites for Education group to be an advocacy organization that develops consensus, instead of burns bridges, with policymakers.



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