By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House Democratic Caucus held a press conference on Tuesday to denounce the Alabama Accountability Act which was passed by both Houses of the Alabama Legislature on Thursday. At their Tuesday press conference House Democrats pledged to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act if the people of Alabama would give their caucus a majority in the legislature in 2014.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “It not the Democrats in the Alabama legislature who are getting hurt. We’re not the ones they are running over; we’re not the victims here. It’s the people of Alabama, and specifically our children who are paying the price.” “We are here today to pledge to the people of Alabama that if you elect a Democratic majority to the legislature in 2014, our first priority will be to repeal this bill.”
State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D) from Red Bay said that the bill would let private schools recruit the best athletes and the best students. “It’s not the kids in the rural areas who will get these scholarships. It’s gonna be the kids who can play football, basketball, and baseball getting those scholarships, and maybe some of the kids with high ACT scores, but not the kids who are struggling in school.” Morrow called on the Alabama High School Athletics Association to exclude private school children from competing with Alabama public school children in athletics.
Rep. Oliver Robinson (D) from Birmingham said that the most egregious thing that the bill will do is lead to recruiting. Robinson attacked Governor Robert Bentley saying, “We don’t need a doctor we need educators.”
Rep. Rod Scott (D) from Fairfield said, “This tax credit gives families around $3500. But the average cost per year of sending your son or daughter to private school in Alabama is around $10,000. So how are these families supposed to afford that?”
Rep. Joe Hubbard (D) from Montgomery said, “Republicans ran on transparency and accountability. With this bill they have shown that they have adopted the culture of corruption whole cloth.”
Rep. Marcel Black (D) from Tuscumbia said, “Everybody will lose money on this one. The schools in Mountain Brook will lose money just like the schools in Montgomery.”
The Alabama Accountability Act would apply only to students who are districted to a neighborhood school that has been declared a persistent poor performer. This applies to only the bottom ten percent of schools in Alabama. Students in those bad schools could then apply to either a public school in another district or to a private school.
The act also gave flexibility to local school boards to ask the State Board of Education to allow flexibility with certain Alabama education laws in an attempt to try to improve school performance.