CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Editorials

November 8, 2012

Fade to the past or move forward

CULLMAN — The Alabama Education Association proved it remains a powerful force in public opinion by derailing a statewide amendment in Tuesday’s election.

The statewide amendment was originally considered a no-brainer when it was put on the ballot. Amendment 4 simply proposed to remove racist language from the Jim Crow-era state constitution. AEA leaders asserted that approval of the amendment would somehow end the state’s obligation of fund public education.

For a powerful teacher’s union, such a notion was unacceptable and the machine of public distortion went to work on polluting the issue.

Never mind that Alabama law mandates that millions of dollars in taxes go directly to public education. The AEA twisted the issue as a show of force more than logic.

To think that so many Alabamians could be convinced that changing the wording of a small portion of the constitution would shut down education funding may seem ridiculous on the surface. But the AEA has long swayed public opinion for the sake of its members’ benefits and pay, not for the betterment of public education or the state’s standing in the nation.

By now, the headlines from the Associated Press noting the resounding defeat of Amendment 4 has swept across the country. Alabama, long remembered as the center of American racism, once again failed to moved forward. And that’s such a misrepresentation of where the state has been headed in recent years.

Alabama is now home to business investors from around the world. Society is much better in this state than it was just 30 or 40 years ago. The efforts of the AEA are disgraceful.

The teacher’s union has held influence for decades over lawmakers and public opinion. But what does Alabama have to show for this special interest group’s behavior?

Lawmakers should reject any further attempts at influence from an organization that lives off the public’s money while standing in the way of progress in public education and tainting the state’s reputation.

Upon the legislature’s return to Montgomery, every effort should be made to bring this amendment back to life and rid the state constitution of its racist tone. The people of Alabama deserve an opportunity to move out of the shadows of the past. If the AEA doesn’t want to be part of a new Alabama, let that organization fade to the past.

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