State Board of Education passes changes

In a five to four vote, the State School Board made the first step in changing the way Alabama schools do business.

The changes come in the form of two resolutions.  The first establishes a committee to add flexibility to state guidelines for schools.  The second and most debated forms a committee to elect new ways to evaluate teachers.

"We should do everything that we possibly can to improve the effectiveness and the qualifications of our teachers.  How we get there was debated today." says Governor Bob Riley.

The board members opposing the reform say the special school board meeting was called to pass the resolutions quickly, which would add to the race to the top funding application.  The Governor says race to the top had nothing to do with it.

School superintendents of Alabama Executive Director Dr. Susan Lockwood says this news will be a slap in the face for teachers across the state who are already doing more with less.  "We're firing teachers and letting them go because the economy bad.  Now we're going to turn around and say we're going to test your children to see if you can teach," says Dr. Lockwood.

Supporters say its less to do with cutting teachers down and more about helping them help students.

Both resolutions simply allow the state school board to begin planning and talking about the changes in flexibility and teacher assessment.  For four school board members the vote mad five days before the race to the top application deadline is simply too close to explain.

Alabama could receive upwards of $175 million dollars for education from race to the top.  The decision will be made sometime before September.