Teachers upset over Bentley’s comments on public education

Sometimes if you can’t say something nice, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all. That’s some advice Governor Robert Bentley might have needed to hear before he spoke at the Alabama Association of Regional Councils Conference on Wednesday. Bentley made several comments about state education at this conference, including this quote:

“Our education system in this state sucks. I don’t use that term very much, but let me tell you. I wanna tell you this:                     When we are 51st on our NAEP scores in 4th grade math in this state…51st? And we ain’t got but 50 states? That’s pretty          sad. And it’s intolerable. And we’re gonna do something about it.” — Gov. Robert Bentley

Educators feel like his words are a personal attack on the work they’re doing in the classroom.


Gov. Bentley is under fire from educators concerning comments he made about public education.

“He’s judging everything we do with that one, grade-level math score, on one test,” said Butler County Superintendent Amy Bryan. “And though I agree, it’s horrible, I’m embarrassed, but that’s where we are. We aren’t going to get any better by publicizing that we’re low.”

“With the words he used, I definitely can’t even share the statement that the governor made with our students,” said Greenville Elementary School Principal Kent McNaughton when he was asked about Bentley’s choice of words. “I would be embarrassed to make the same comment that he made to our state to the students that I serve every day.”

The comments are particularly upsetting for fourth grade teachers. Teachers like Lindsey Croley, who teaches math to fourth graders at Greenville Elementary. She feels like her grade and class were singled out when Bentley specified the law test scores.

“I don’t think he meant to hurt the fourth graders, I think he was talking about, probably the educators, the administrators,” she said. “But ultimately, it was their test scores he was talking about. So it was, it had to be hurtful to them, and their parents.”

Bentley was referring to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores. The NAEP scores are said to be reflective of what America’s students know and are capable of doing. Bryan says Butler County did not take NAEP test scores last year and are not a part of the low ranking Bentley mentioned. In fact, she says many schools are probably not represented in that score, because the test is only given to a few randomly chosen school systems each year.

The major concern of the educators is that parents and students will believe Bentley’s remarks to be a fact. In these educators’ opinions, that will only make the school system worse.


Superintendent Bryan doesn’t believe the NAEP scores are accurant of the entire state.

“Why would I want my child in public education in this state if the GOVERNOR says it sucks? So it may cost us students,” said Superintendent Bryan.

She and Croley also invited Bentley to come to Greenville Elementary and walk through the classrooms, sit in on or teach a class, and try to help them come up with a solution to the low test scores. They think he might learn something too.

“You know, we teach every day, use kind words, talk to people the way you’d want to be talked to. That’s what we’re teaching fourth graders, and so maybe, it’s good for EVERYBODY to go back to fourth grade and remember how to treat others,” Croley added.

Categories: South Alabama