Shedd to introduce bill affecting state superintendent of education

District 11 Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) said yesterday he intends to introduce a bill in the state Legislature to make the job of state superintendent of education an elected position. This follows a period recently when the current superintendent, Michael Sentance, has come under scrutiny for at least two matters done without the state school board’s knowledge: (1) several large expenditures he made for consulting services, and (2) a reorganization that could deemphasize career technical and workforce development education in the state.

“I am deeply troubled by the proposed career tech and workforce development changes by Superintendent Michael Sentance,” Shedd said. “The changes as I understand them would lower the level of career tech and workforce development four levels at the state department of education, instead of being at the table in a meaningful position.

“I am also deeply troubled to learn Dr. Philip Cleveland is leaving his post. He is a tremendous asset for business and industry recruiting in Alabama. I urge the State Board of Education to prevent these mistakes before they happen.”

Cleveland, a Blount County resident, is state deputy superintendent of education for career technical education and workforce development. He also served as interim superintendent during the period before Sentance was hired by the state board. Cleveland resigned on Feb. 6, although he plans to remain with the department until early July.

Cleveland was reported by to have said the new organizational structure would require him to go through additional administrative layers and would cripple the ability to respond quickly to industry, a key element to industry’s enthusiastic reception of Alabama’s efforts to meet their needs as fully and quickly as possible.

Shedd said Cleveland “has been a springboard in bringing jobs to Alabama” through his work with prospective companies to assure them their training needs would be met through the state’s workforce development program.

Shedd said that Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon is attending a meeting of the state board of education today to communicate concerns expressed by state legislators concerning proposed changes.

Concerning his proposed change to make the state superintendent’s job an elective position, Shedd said “I know there are different sides as to whether it should be an elective or appointed job, but I think there are advantages to having candidates for the job express their ideas and vision for education to the people, and let the voters decide who they want to lead us going forward,” Shedd said.