We came upon the accident in the middle of that recent weather event that hit the country in January, the result of what is known as the “Saskatchewan Screamer.”

“Are you going to see if that guy is alive?”

Steam billowed from the truck.

Bright green fuel dribbled in the snow.

The truck's cab was in the ditch.

On its side.

The trailer was stuck in the slush.

"That might catch on fire," Chris said.

He opened the car door, then ran.

He ran back almost as quickly as he'd left.

"He's ok." He shook his head. Eyes wide.

"The driver. He's stunned. But ok."

That picture is a snapshot of our education system.

A wreck.

Fully detached from its original purpose.

Which, by the way, was to pass along morals and values to the next generation.

And to teach kids how, not what, to think and to prepare kids for their civic responsibilities and duties.

So what about education in Alabama?

We had two opportunities this legislative session to do good things. 

One in the form of a bill that should have crashed and burned.

And one that should have passed without getting surgically altered.

First, the Senate passed Senate Bill 40, which ushered in Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

What does this mean, if it passes in the House? 

From the Federalist:

Parents normally send their children to school (or park them at the computer for pretend school) to learn academic disciplines, including English, math, science, and history. But in most public and some private schools, more and more time is being redirected from academic instruction to "social-emotional learning" (S.E.L.) — the cultivation not of knowledge but the "correct" attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and behaviors.

Oh goody.

So, our kids can't do the basics very well. But they will be able to tell you how they feel about it.

Yes. I know it's much more than that.

Still.

It is unbelievable that the people we voted for, voted for this.

Second, from the “but wait, there’s more!” category, the much-celebrated Parent's Choice Act jackknifed.  

It went from, “Great! Our kids aren't zip-coded into a system! We can receive money to send our kids to the school of our family's choice.”

To, “we don’t have a choice. At all” rather quickly.

Because the leaders we VOTED FOR worked AGAINST the families they represent.

As the bill stands, parents who use their school choice funds to send their kids to a private school must have their kids take a state-authorized test to continue to receive funds from year to year.

You know.

To make sure those kids are up to snuff.

Dear. Leaders.

We're 50th in education.

U.S. News & World Report (2019)

U.S. News & World Report (2019)

• Alabama ranked No. 50 – dead last – in the publication's latest education rankings.

• In Pre-K-12, Alabama ranked No. 49, ahead of only New Mexico.

• Alabama students ranked next to last for math scores.

The reason parents celebrated the possibility of school choice is they're not buying, in many cases, what your system is selling.

Why would you invite government overreach into their lives?

Why would you sponsor intrusion?

Did the AEA influence your vote?

Can you not see?

Our system is a wreck. And we're at the head of the class.

Parents, lest you think this is all bad news, let us pause for a reality check.

We're still the authority for our kids.

From America First legal,

"As the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, parents have the ultimate authority over their children's education. And yet schools often ignore parents' rights. School systems, administrators, and teachers often treat parents with contempt and disdain simply for asking what their children are learning and what values schools promote.

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 U.S.C. § 1232h, is one important — but until now a little-used — tool for holding administrators and teachers accountable. First passed in 1974 and then expanded several times (most recently in 2002), the PPRA provides parents legal rights to review curriculum and, in some circumstances, to opt-out of certain activities at any school that receives federal funding. ..."

Our job is to remind our leaders that they are not the parents.

We are.

It does not matter whether you use funds for your child's education or choose to keep them in a public school, you are in charge of your child's education.

You can read the curriculum. You have that right. And responsibility.

You choose what’s best for them. Period.

Our homework?

Get in touch with your legislators.

Share your thoughts while we still have a choice.

——

Will we survive this wreck?

That's entirely up to us.

Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].