Tommy Bice, Alabama’s state school superintendent, got a big raise last week. By a 6-2 vote, the state school board agreed to pay Bice $250,000 a year, an increase of slightly more than 25 percent.
Here are three ways to look at Bice’s big payday:
1. It’s well-deserved. Bice, who took the job in January 2012, is proving to be a worthwhile hire. On the job less than two years, Bice is skillfully managing the many competing interests, and he’s doing so in a time of scarcity in public education funding.
2. The tiresome resistance to progress by opponents of Common Core continues. The dissenting school board votes came from the two most vocal opponents of the Common Core standards, which in Alabama is known as College and Career Ready. Those two board members are Betty Peters and Stephanie Bell. “We are headed in the wrong direction under (Bice),” Bell told reporters after the vote. “I get calls from teachers and parents all the time. There has never been so much unhappiness with the state school system.”
3. It’s a lesson for Alabama’s budget writers. The formula is quite simple: Quality in our public schools costs money, more than Alabama has historically been willing to pay. We can’t just stop at the top, however. The state must pour more money into education, including into salary increases for teachers and administrators.