If you listen to public remarks given by Gov. Kay Ivey and other Republican lawmakers with leadership posts, you would have heard that education will be a focus during this year's legislative session, slated to begin on Tuesday at noon.
However, what education policy is pursued by the body remains to be seen.
State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) argues that discipline in public schools should be at the top of the list of concerns for policymakers.
In an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," Sessions said he was unsure about the efficacy of school choice with disciplinary issues plaguing public schools.
"I'm on the education budget committee," he said. "I'm not on the education policy committee. Jeff, you and I have talked about education a lot in the past. You know, I'm just a country boy who grew up going to school in some pretty good schools. I probably was not near as good of a student as I should have been. But I can look at the difference between then and now and tell you one of the huge differences is our discipline issues."
"When you don't have structure, and you don't have discipline, it doesn't matter what the curriculum is," Sessions continued. "Children have a hard time learning. Until we want to address that issue, I don't know that you're going to be successful at really making big strides in education. I don't know that voucher systems do any good. I don't know that charter schools, school choice – you can have all of the choices in the world, but if that child can't go to an environment to where they can learn, how are we going to improve education? Honestly, I get tired of talking about discipline."
The Mobile County lawmaker said the legislature playing a role in determining school disciplinary policy was not out of the realm of possibilities.
"I would suppose we would have to take some of the rule-making and regulatory authority away from the school boards and put it back in the legislature's hands and say, 'Look, we're not going to allow you to put children back in classes who have foul-language issues" he replied. "Just because they have a foul-language issue doesn't mean they get to sit in class and call the teacher every name in the book, and they can't be suspended. Jeff, that's not right. That is bad policy. But unfortunately, that is policy that is in our school systems. Like I said, I get tired of talking about discipline, but I learned it at a very early age. My father was a Marine in World War II. He believed in discipline."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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