Once upon a time there was this horrible thing called segregation. It was legal in a lot of places, including Alabama. One day in 1954, the Supreme Court decided to finally decide that the rulings from 1896 and 1899 making it legal were unconstitutional. Now, in 2012, we in the obviously progressive state of Alabama, we are supposed to vote on a little thing called amendment 4. Amendment 4 was initially written to remove racist language from the State’s infamously long Constitution. While it was in committee, a few little things got changed it around. It became not only an amendment that would remove the racist language, but one that makes sure that the public knows “nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense”.
Yeah, that’s right. It says that the state will not recognize a right to a public education. I guess that makes sense. It would basically be doing all those wonderful things that led to the Reformation and the witch trials, by keeping the populace uneducated and illiterate. By denying a right to a public education, the state would take a huge step backwards.
The legislators who’d introduced the amendment ended up not voting for it once these additions had been made. Now, many different organizations in the state, from the AEA to the people at Alabama Arise. People and politicians currently supporting the proposed amendment have stated that it needs to be passed in order to bring the state into the 21st century and make companies and industries feel safer about coming to the state. I’m pretty sure that most companies that come from areas of the country and the world that treasure education might think less of us for saying that the state doesn’t have to educate its citizens.
If it passed, the amendment might not lead to public education ending in the state, but the quality of the education would get worse. The state would no longer have to maintain certain standards. If a student challenged the state for a better education, the state could say, “You should just be happy with the shitty education we’re already giving you.” It wouldn’t be right.
People who support the amendment even with these additions might think that students could always go to a private school, but that isn’t the case. People in this state are too poor, for the most part, to send their kids to private schools. And they shouldn’t have to. People shouldn’t be forced to send their kids to some private school to make sure that their kid gets a decent education. A public education should be provided and should be good enough that kids from public schools can compete at the same level as those in the private school. By blocking that shot at a decent, free education, the state is saying that it doesn’t care about the education of its citizens. It is saying that it doesn’t care that some kids actually need this education to improve their lives. And it is saying that it doesn’t care that this amendment could not only ruin the current state of education in Alabama, but it could cause problems for the state’s economy now and in the future.
This state is always so behind on issues. I hate it that politicians have taken this amendment, this shot at removing hatred an ignorance, and ruined it. They’ve made it so that if the amendment is passed, we’re promoting ignorance, and if it does not pass, we look like we’re promoting ignorance. Neither situation is good for the state’s appearance or its citizens.