Attacks on education are disguised

Published 9:23pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The attacks on public education continue unabated. The first week of the 2012 Legislative session produced a bounty of such attacks. We are in for a long hard fight for attacks on public education continue unabated.

The Governor of Alabama submitted the Executive Budget to the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday evening, the first day of session. It proposes to take $225 million from the education trust fund by sleight of hand. It’s hard to explain the tricky maneuverings, but it allots $225 million dollars to items traditionally funded by the general fund. Instead of transferring money from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund, it expends $225 million on General Fund entities placed in the Education Budget. Some calculations show $308 billion less this year for public education. Any way you look at it, the attacks on public education continue unabated.

With Alabama already near the in education funding bottom (40th out of 50 states), we cannot afford for any monies to be transferred from either the education budget or education programs. Either action robs our children of an adequate education. The attacks on public education continue unabated.

A bill was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives dubbed “ Alabama Job Creation and Retention Act.” It’s a flim flam because it’s really an education killing bill, not a job creation bill. It is complicated but it allows companies to not pay income taxes to the Education Trust Fund on the theory that the money will be used to create jobs. It robs our children of their education future on the bare wings of possible job creation. The attacks on public education continue unabated. Alabama has among the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. It also has the richest incentives for businesses in the country. Now they want to lower the lowest tax rates and increase the richest business incentives. It is estimated that this bill will cost public education $300 million. It will rob public education, enrich the rich and create little or no jobs. The attacks on public education continue unabated.

This bill was introduced on Tuesday and made it to the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives by Thursday, just two days later. It has explosive speed and great power but AEA (Alabama Education Association) and other organizations fought back valiantly. As a result, the bill did not pass on Thursday for it was defeated on a procedure maneuver by six votes. However, we can be certain that it will be back for further consideration. The attacks on public education continue unabated.

A bill was introduced on Tuesday and considered on the Senate floor on Thursday. It takes away retirement benefits for any public employee convicted of a felony connected with a public office. This may appear not to be so bad at first blush. However, consider this scenario: a teacher works for forty years and retires. Then serves as a constable or city councilperson or dog catcher and is convicted of something connected to that office. They lose certain retirement benefits from their forty years of hard work as a teacher. The attacks on public education employees and other state employees continue unabated.

I went to the Senate podium on the Senate floor to challenge this bill. After some debate, the sponsor of the bill said he was open to amending the bill to make it less onerous. It was carried over so amendments could be drawn up. Even with amendments, it just goes from being a “terrible bill” to being a “Bad bill.” The attacks on public education and public employees continue unabated.

The charter schools initiative is still in full swing. However, Republican leaders have said they will not consider the charter school bill until after Spring Break. I still cannot get a copy of the proposed bill from any legislator. However, the intent to have charter schools operated by corporations, not traditional educators, is becoming increasingly clear. The only thing public about the proposed charter schools initiative is public funding. Everything else will be private, private, private. The attacks on public education continue unabated.

There are numerous other destructive bills that attack public education lurking in the legislative arena. We will address more as the session develops. We in the Alabama Legislature will just have to fight until we cannot fight anymore and then fight on anyhow. The fight, however, must not be just for those in the legislative arena, but for all of us from whatever our stations in life. If we don’t fight now, it will be a much bigger fight later with much greater losses.

Attacks are increasingly disguised in the political arena. They come in good sounding names. They come in the name of ethics and accountability. They come disguised as proposals for excellence in public education. They come in the name of jobs for our people.

We must cut through the disguises for it’s not what they are called but what they do and who they hurt.

  • popdukes12

    If one were to put the first two contributor’s comments together, they said about all that needs to be said on the subject matter. I’m sure that with the Democratic demise of power seen in the state legislature, the good senator is catching “holey hell” at the house with the decrease of income in the Sander’s household. Given all the property purchased in “Old Town” and other areas of the city, Rose is going to be hard pressed to even pay the property taxes on all the property. Does Sanders do anything else in Montgomery except worry about ways to suck money out of the school funding? pops

  • mo-of-thesame

    The only truly fair system of educating our children is vouchers. The vast majority of those who are “Makers” rather than “Takers” are funding public education with no direct benefit for their children.

    Let the free market system that makes our country great be the decision maker for parents. Give every student an equal amount of funding to go toward their education and let the parents and the intellectual capability of the child decide where they attend school. Schools and educators that cannot properly perform will be closed just as a manufacturing facility in the private sector. This is fair to all.

    On Charter Schools, we certainly do not need to expand public education and build more buildings for students fail in. Just as the new Selma High School Building, a new shiny school with the staff teaching staff and methods will not produce different results; believing it will is nothing shy of insanity. We have a Charter School in Selma….. It is called Morgan Academy. They have 40% better test scores, 100% graduation rates, 90+% go to higher education all on less than half the amount of funding per student.

    Are the students simply smarter, I don’t think so? But facts are the average ACT score is 17 (not enough to enter any mainstream 4 year institution) for Selma High after culling more than half who do not graduate as compared to 24 for Morgan. Perhaps the State should use this model for success rather than the failed bastion of politics and corruption that continues to steal from our children’s future.

    In closing D is correct. The good senator is so far out of power that he can no longer get what he believes is his share of the pie. Selma needs to wake up and realize that Alabama is a “Red State” and the Blackbelt is simply an island in the state that will not be funded if we continue to elect those in the minority party! The “Makers” among us need to unite and move these corrupt racist self-serving elected officials out of their positions and replace them with innovative folks who can see the larger path that leads to success.

    Keep Hope Alive.

  • D-man

    it kills me that you even have the conscious (or none) to even discuss this issue when you and your wife funneled millions of dollars through her non-profits out of the special education trust fund for years…

    i have no idea what they plan to do with the money, but I know what ya’ll did with much of it… at worst, they are crooks and will squander it and they are doing nothing that ya’ll haven’t already done…. at best, something very worthwhile may come out of it… which is better than you did…

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