Who is working for our children?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

Pam Baker quit.

After months of political juggling and the murmured threats of lawsuits, the former Commissioner of Children's Affairs in Gov. Don Siegelman's administration has resigned her fairly new and increasingly precarious position on the state Board of Education. Siegelman had appointed her to the post, but her status was nebulous, due to the fact that the Senate did not vote on approval until the Riley administration took over.

Riley, wanting a Republican majority on the school board, was threatening to sue to have Baker removed, despite the fact she was eminently qualified.

Baker removed that option by removing herself. She cited several reasons - admitting that she would probably lose the battle once it reached the Supreme Court - but the most important one was that she did not want the attention of the Senate and the governor directed at a prolonged and potentially ugly court battle, instead of improving education in Alabama.

&uot;I cannot, in good conscience, allow my appointment to be used as a distraction from the real issues that the governor should be focused on and that the Senate is so anxious to engage,&uot; she said in a letter to the Senate.

Compare this to Riley, who has vowed to end one extremely lengthy and expensive lawsuit the state is involved in - only to engage in another?

We have a former teacher who resigns a position in order to protect the educational system she has been trying to improve, and we have a governor - who has yet to come up with a workable education program - threatening to sue to remove her, just to establish his party's domination on the Board of Education. Who is working for our children here?

As much as we admire Baker for her decision to defuse the

situation and eliminate the need for legal fees, we regret that she was forced into this sort of decision. We have so few people who are truly capable of understanding the educational system and willing to improve it. Now, we fear, we will have even fewer willing to offer their time and talents, for fear of political fallout.

Again we have to ask, who is really working for our children?