Super Majority

Super Majority

Copy of a letter sent to a State Senator…

I heard on the radio the other day that you intend to offer legislation to pay STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers in the K-12 system an additional stipend in an effort to improve the 4th and 8th grade math scores. At first I laughed, I thought it was a joke but then I realized you are serious.

Sir, please stop applying policy tweaks to a system that is clearly systemically broken.

I appreciate a politician must cater to various constituencies in an effort to get re-elected, but at what point do the citizens of the State, or at the very least your district, take precedent over parochial needs. You have been a State Senator for sixteen years and throughout that span, Alabama’s national education rank has never wavered, it has consistently been at the bottom. I respectfully suggest this purported legislative tweak will do little or nothing to alter this position.

This is a red state that holds a “super majority” in both houses and has for several years. Despite this advantage, little has been done to alter some of the most egregious statistics that haunt this area and invite, in some cases, well deserved attacks against our policies. Look at the budget since your first election. Education has been discussed, but what about health care, welfare rolls, wages, taxes, crime and other everyday statistics that affect the average citizen. Are fewer people receiving section-eight housing vouchers? While a federal program, it has local implications. Are fewer people living on welfare now than when you first took office? Has the recidivism rate improved? Are our roads better, health care or higher education more affordable?

As the federal government awaits the court mandated takeover of Alabama prisons, what will that cost the citizens of Alabama? Why has the Legislature not taken responsibility for what is clearly its task? Could the incarceration rate, and recidivism, have something to do with the abysmal education ranking? What policies could be enacted to deter crime? What training might be invested to provide a path to keep current prisoners from returning?

Gambling is a sin, or so I’m told, but the job of the Legislature, at least in most states, is not to legislate morality, but to develop policies that benefit the majority of the folks in the State. Why the holdup? If I suck at math and want to play the Lottery, great, who are you and your colleagues to tell me no. In fact, you can’t, but you can make it inconvenient. Now I have to drive somewhere to gamble, great. Thanks for that.

Casino gambling, why do the Indians get to have all the fun? Why are some locations good for gambling and others not? Is that provincial, again? Make the rules, but when the Legislature starts to limit where a citizen can do things, and specific constituencies benefit, it creates questions. If the rules are followed, why can’t a restaurant owner run a card game, a roulette wheel, or a craps game after the dinner rush? It might help with overhead costs, or taxes. Is the citizens’ morality at risk or is the goal to leverage a few select locations for money, asking for a friend?

Illegal alien arrivals appear to be arriving in your District on a weekly basis. What will the legislature do to prevent these new arrivals from settling here? What is being done to ensure they don’t take local jobs, access social benefits, drive educational costs and deter them from taking up residency in the State? Since they are not leaving, and still continue to arrive, what mechanisms allow them to live?

Have taxes been reduced to reflect the huge boon in revenues, eliminating the tax on food is a good first step? As an elected official representing a part of the state that not only suckles, but feeds voraciously at the government teat, it can prove difficult to balance any criticism of the bloated federal government budget with the continued prosperity of the district, but has any consideration been made as to how the area will be affected if the government actually stops spending money like a drunken sailor? It may not do so voluntarily, but at some point, economics will demand it.

At what point, since sixteen years appears insufficient, will you embrace the challenges that accompany the office and start to fix some of these issues. As a solid Red State, Alabama should take the lead in innovation and change. Please, no more commissions, legislate change.  Instituting personal responsibility to achieve education excellence would be a great start. If the kid can’t pass the assessment, night school until they can. If night school is not working, a parent and the kid can go to night school together until they can, that should help motivate parents.

Demanding adherence to standards instead of enabling exceptions is good policy.

Creating a two-tiered teacher salary base lessens the non-STEM curriculum. There is at least equal, if not greater value for society, in teaching Civics, History, English, and other skills that reinforce the value of personal responsibility; STEM is but one piece of the puzzle. There are over one hundred school districts in this great State, think of them as incubators or innovation centers and let them try different things. Need money, look to the bloated bureaucracy at the State level or the entourages accompanying each Superintendent? The status quo, and all its expenditures, bureaucracies, and tactics, has failed, miserably.

So many policies in this state are failing, the numbers prove it. These are not epiphanies as the education ranking proves, but year after year, election after election, these failed policies are perpetuated. In recent years, improvement is obfuscated by a good economy, but as debt runs rampant, inflation destroys any meager wage increase, and working people are forced to provide support for the indolent, the impenetrable super majority may crumble. This is one of the many reasons citizens are exasperated, these opportunities are repeatedly wasted.

Take your super majority and turn it towards personal responsibility and fix some of these policy travesties. Allow Alabama to be the poster child for personal responsibility across numerous policy areas. Applaud, support and reward personal responsibility and discourage enabling behavior. Achieve these goals through policy change. Prove that Red States are capable of leadership and substantive policy adoption. There is no time like the present.

I do apologize for the length of my tirade, but not its content, it was ignited by the proposed STEM stipend legislation.

Categorized as Policy

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