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Armistead and Republicans Jubilant Over Passage of Comprehensive Education Reform Bill

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Republicans continue to applaud the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act on Thursday by the Republican controlled Alabama Legislature. The bill would allow children in chronically failing schools to go to better schools, either another public school or even a private school.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said in a written statement, “This is an historic time for students who are locked into a chronically failing school. Finally, all students in Alabama will have an opportunity for a quality education regardless of their zip code. No Alabama student should be forced to remain in a school that cannot provide a quality education.”

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams (R) from Rainbow City said on Facebook, “The State Senate just passed the Education Accountability bill and I believe that it is the best thing to happen for our schools, our kids, and our State since desegregation!”

Alabama State State Representative Allen Farley (R) from McCalla said on Facebook, “Tonight I was so very proud to be a Republican member of the Alabama Legislature. We passed a Bill that will give all Alabama school children a chance for a quality education. The Accountability Act of 2013 will allow parents to take their child from a failing school and apply for a transfer to another public, or private school. The transferring child will take 80% of the designated education dollars with them to the new school.

Rep. Jack Williams (R) from Vestavia said on Facebook, “This was historic and will positively impact low income children all across Alabama.”

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R) from Madison said, “This benefits every student, teacher and school in the state. The tax credit portion only comes into play for children in persistently low performing schools. The goal is to have all schools performing at or exceeding standards.”

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Chairman Armistead said, “I am especially excited to see this legislation passed because as a State Senator I sponsored similar legislation that allowed students in failing schools to opt out of their school and take a portion of the allocated state funds with them to a public or private school of their choice where they could get a quality education. Unfortunately, it has taken more than a decade to make this a reality. Tonight demonstrates that the liberal special interest groups and union bosses are no longer driving the agenda in Montgomery. It’s clear that our Republican lawmakers will stop at nothing to move Alabama forward.”

Senate Pro Tem Dell Marsh (R) from Anniston said, “Today the Legislature unlocked the doors of school choice for parents and students trapped in failing school systems. This is perhaps the most significant education reform legislation ever passed in Alabama. Thanks to my colleagues in the House and Senate, in addition to Gov. Bentley, for standing up for our children’s future.”

Senator Williams said, “THEIR IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION BEING SPREAD ABOUT THIS BILL ALREADY!!! Teachers tenure IS protected, teachers pay, benefits, etc ARE protected. Teachers cannot be terminated outside the existing process. School systems cannot waive requirements imposed by federal law. There is no authorization to form Charter schools. It allows children in chronically failing schools to go to better schools. This bill will allow local systems with approval from the State BOE to modify their system to better educate their local children. It also allows the state to fix the failing schools so kids are not stuck in a poor situation outside their control. There will be a tremendous amount of discussion on this bill over the next few weeks. I hope that facts are used, not fear tactics. We are fortunate in my district to have only 2 individual schools (not systems) in 2 counties that are under-performing. Again, teachers have not lost any tenure or pay/benefits, even in under-performing schools. If there is a failing school, it will be fixed. If not failing, your school will not see any issues with this bill. This is the right thing to do for our children!”

Rep. Farley said, “There will also be tax credits for businesses that want to set up scholarships for students needing financial assistance in making these moves away from a school that has been classified as a failing school. Bottom line: Parents who can’t afford to pay the cost of moving their kids out of that failing school now can use that education money going to that failing school and take 80% of the money with their student to a better school. “God Bless America”. Go to for details”

Chairman Armistead said, “I congratulate Speaker Hubbard and Senator Marsh for the leadership that they provided in gaining this historic victory for Alabama’s public school students. Rep. Chad Fincher (R-Mobile) and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) are to be commended for shepherding this legislation through the House and Senate. For the first time ever in the history of our state, parents and children are no longer chained to the sinking ship of a failing school and have the promise of a quality education no matter where they live or how much money they make. This is indeed a great day for quality education for all of Alabama student.”

HB 84 was proposed by the Alabama House Republican Caucus as the centerpiece of their “We Dare Defend Our Rights” Agenda. The Alabama Education Association (AEA) opposed that bill; but it was supported by the Alabama Association of School Boards and Alabama State School Superintendent Dr. Bice. That bill passed the House and a similar version of that bill passed in the Senate. A conference committee was appointed to resolve the differences. Instead the committee substituted a much more ambitious school reform bill. The four Republicans on the committee voted for the bill and the two Democrats voted against. On Thursday night the House and the Senate both passed the new version of the bill, the Alabama Accountability Act.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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