Dr. Paul Hubbert is a remarkable man and one of the most gifted persons I have had the pleasure of knowing. Not only is Paul smart and well-read, he also understands how to motivate folks and lead them in a chosen direction. He took over the leadership of the Alabama Educational Association in 1969 at a time when the organization was not a factor in the state politically. Nobody can dispute that Paul, in his role with AEA, has made the organization into one of the most powerful and influential organizations in our state.
A good number of governors considered it good politics to take Paul on and that only added to his reputation and prestige. From the beginning, he was a staunch defender of public education. If the governors who fought him had worked as hard at doing their real job as they did attacking Paul, Alabama would be in much better shape today. In my opinion, Paul has done more for public education in Alabama than any of the governors who made Paul and AEA their favorite target.
Paul successfully defended the Special Education Trust Fund over the years, convincing the Legislature to reject raids on the fund. Alabama has never adequately funded education at any level and Paul has always been quick to point that out. Unfortunately AEA and Dr. Hubbert were made whipping boys by politicians, acting in their own political interest, and that has done nothing but hurt education. In spite of the attacks, Paul and AEA worked to create statewide kindergarten, helped to reduce pupil-teacher ratios, and were successful – to the extent possible – in obtaining more equitable state funding for all of the state’s public schools.
Many political observers believe Paul would have been a very good governor. That never happened. I believe the people of Alabama over the years have made two big voting mistakes in selecting governors. The first was failing to elect Albert Brewer to a full term in 1970. The second was not electing Paul Hubbert governor when he ran in 1990. I firmly believe those missed opportunities resulted in major setbacks for our state. Albert Brewer was an outstanding public official and he would have led our state in the right direction had he remained in office. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul would have been very much like Albert Brewer and would have led our state successfully had he been elected governor.
I hesitate to place the label “Living Legend” on any person, but Dr. Paul Hubbert is an exception to the rule. He has had a tremendously successful career and has been a positive influence for good in our state. I also consider this man to be a good friend.
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