Alabama Accountability Act unethicalPublished 10:27pm Monday, April 8, 2013
For the past three years it has been Alabama’s GOP legislative supermajority’s tendency to vote first, read later and then wait for the unintended consequences that they create. Each year there has been at least one centerpiece of legislation that has had major unintended consequences. This year’s centerpiece is the so-called “Alabama Accountability Act,” which was passed in haste, without public hearings, or informed debate. When Gov. Bentley signed the act into law, he acknowledged that there were, in his words, “Some concerns [that] have been raised regarding the impact of this legislation.” The governor also said he believed those concerns could be fixed through more rules and regulations. Republicans in the legislature say they hope to fix the act with new legislation to address the concerns. The Accountability Act cannot be fixed.
There are no rules or regulations that the governor can create, and no new piece of legislation that can correct this problem. Regardless, the Accountability Act will still redirect millions of dollars out of public schools and undermine our entire public education system. The Republican leadership has tried to sell this new law as a program to allow students “school choice.” How ironic that the chairman of the education budget committee has estimated only 10 percent of students will actually transfer out of failing schools. If he is right, then how does this bill help the 90 percent of students who cannot leave a struggling school? If he is wrong and more students decide to transfer, he has drastically underfunded the education budget and schools will go into proration.
The only solution is to repeal this terrible law and go back to the original education reform proposal that we were debating before the bait-and-switch took place. It is time for a “do-over” – because of the deceitful and unethical way this legislation became law.
Democrats in the legislature have introduced a bill that would repeal the act and go back to the original flexibility proposal that was approved by the Alabama Association of School Boards, the School Superintendents of Alabama, the state school superintendent and was passed unanimously out of the senate.
Every child in Alabama deserves a quality education. Giving our children a quality education doesn’t just increase their economic opportunities, but it also helps our entire economy grow. How can we give our children a quality education if we are undermining the integrity of our schools and cutting millions of dollars from the education budget?
We can’t afford to take more money and resources away from our schools and expect these schools to magically start performing better.