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Alabamians Deserve Options

Opinion editorial by Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead

If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. Alabama’s students know far too well how true that statement really is. For decades, we have watched our state’s education system perform at mediocre and far too often, less than mediocre, standards. We have watched year after year as Alabama’s education system has ranked far below acceptable standards. It is time for that to change. It is time for Alabama’s teachers, parents and students to have the kind of top quality educational system that they deserve.

When Republicans took majority control in both chambers of the Alabama legislature, we promised that there would be positive changes in many areas, including education. Republicans have kept that promise and are working hard to provide parents and teachers with educational options that will allow students forced into consistently underperforming schools to have access to educational alternatives with the introduction of the Education Options Act.

Unfortunately, there are many mistruths about this legislation and the public charter schools they would establish being perpetuated by unions like the Alabama Education Association who seem determined to oppose any education reform proposal in favor of a struggling status quo. It seems that paid staffers of the AEA in Montgomery would rather do what we have always done and continue watching some of Alabama’s schools flounder, rather than give parents and teachers the tools they need to assist students in underperforming school systems.

Alabama’s charter schools legislation would allow PUBLIC charter schools to be established in school systems which consistently rank in the lowest 5% of Alabama schools. This legislation would allow a new kind of public school to be established:

  • -A school that would return control to the local level
  • -A school that would empower teachers with the flexibility to “think outside of the box” and to be innovative in their classrooms
  • -A school that would foster parental involvement in the education of their children.

Most of all, public charter schools give parents in poor performing school districts a choice about where and how their children should be educated. This is a choice that is now only reserved for parents who can afford to send their children to private schools and, apparently, bureaucrats employed by the AEA want to keep it that way.

The Education Options Act gives parents a public school alternative to trapping their children in schools that don’t meet their educational standards. As Republicans, we believe that all Alabamians deserve that choice, not just parents with the means to pay private school tuition.

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This legislation also equips teachers with the flexibility they need to address the needs of their individual classrooms in new and creative ways. Alabama is blessed to have great teachers and we believe that they should be allowed to teach in a way that addresses the needs of the individual students in their classrooms rather than be forced to adapt to a “one size fits all” teaching method.

I would encourage all of Alabama’s taxpayers to research the Education Options Act and call your local legislator to tell them that Alabama’s teachers and Alabama’s students deserve better – they deserve options.

Bill Armistead, a former State Senator from Columbiana, is currently the Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

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