AEA opposes amendment removing racist language from Ala. Constit - Montgomery Alabama news.

AEA opposes amendment removing racist language from Ala. Constitution

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Alabama's powerful teacher's union has come out against one of the proposed constitutional amendments that on the surface doesn't appear to have to do with education.

"Amendment Four would have the perverse effect of reinstating a former constitutional provision eliminating the state's duty to educate all of the children of the state" it reads in the October 15 edition of the Alabama School Journal, the official publication of the AEA.

Amendment Four is a proposal that would remove references in the state constitution that refer to segregation and poll taxes. Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure to go to the ballot with bipartisan support.

The AEA charges that by scrapping the segregation language, it puts education policy at risk.

The newsletter continues saying the proposed amendment eliminates language that says the state will, "establish, organize, and maintain a liberal system of public schools for the benefit of the children."

Sen. Arthur Orr (R – Decatur) who sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment during the legislative session said, "I think it's an important step for our state to take and it's something we need to do."

Orr contends that Amendment Four is an opportunity for voters to clean up the state's image by eliminating the offensive language.

"I find it offensive to me that it's still in my state's governing document" Sen. Orr said.

Orr also said the amendment has nothing to do with education, or denying education for that matter to anyone in the state.

"This amendment does nothing more than remove the poll tax language and the segregationist language."

In recent days, the non-partisan Alabama Law Institute provided Sen. Orr with a decision regarding the proposed constitutional amendment.

In that letter, ALI Director Othni Lathram wrote, "In my opinion this would not have any impact on the rights, funding, implementing, or structure of public education in Alabama as it currently stands but would only strike the language reflecting vestiges of segregation in schools."

In 2004, voters turned down a different measure with the same goal of removing racist language from the state constitution.

Representatives from the Alabama Education Association were not available to comment on its position Tuesday.

In the final line of the editorial in the Alabama School Journal, the group tells members, "Amendment Four is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and all education employees should vote it down."

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