Accountability Act is all about the money

Published 7:59pm Monday, May 13, 2013

By David Colston

Last week, the Legislature could have had the opportunity to finally have the debate on the Accountability Act that we didn’t have when the Act was passed in February. We could have asked the questions that need to be asked. We could have discussed the financial impact these vouchers would have on funding our public schools. We could have debated if the vouchers will actually improve the quality of education for children in so-called “failing schools.”

We could have had that debate, but we didn’t.

Once again the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery used their power to shut off debate over the Accountability Act. The Republicans only allowed two Democrats to speak on the Accountability Act, and they intentionally chose two whom they knew did not have any amendments that would prolong debate and force Republicans to have to cast a vote on the merits of the Accountability Act.

The Republicans in the Alabama Legislature know they could not justify voting against this amendment, but they want to financially benefit from these vouchers. So they cut off debate to avoid having to vote on the issue.

There is a reason that the Republicans switched the original school reform bill out at the last minute back in February and replaced it with what is now the Accountability Act. There is a reason the Republicans only allowed one hour for legislators to read and discuss a bill they had never seen before.

The president pro tem of the state senate, state Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston, and his staff have stated publicly and on more than one occasion that they could not have passed the Accountability Act through the normal legislative process.

The Republicans in Montgomery have said that they can “fix” the Accountability Act. But the Accountability Act cannot be fixed — that was proven last week.

The Accountability Act was sold to the public as giving students “trapped in failing schools a way out.” But after all that talk, the very first “fix” the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery passed is designed to make it harder for students to transfer to a “non-failing school.”

This just proves that the Accountability Act was never about improving education or helping kids in struggling schools. This was always about money: money that is coming out of our public schools and going into legislators’ pockets.

Every child in Alabama deserves to have access to a quality education. But does the Accountability Act really do that? How does taking money out of our public schools help them perform better?

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