By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, which gives children who are trapped in the state of Alabama’s worst public schools some options to seek an education elsewhere. The bill also provides all Alabama school boards the opportunity to seek some flexibility from suffocating education regulation in order to attempt to improve their public schools.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley “This also gives flexibility to children and parents by providing new options for students who are stuck in persistently low-performing schools. All children deserve access to a quality education, no matter where they live. This provides a new option to help children receive the best education possible.”
The Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said in a written statement, “We’ve unlocked the doors of choice for parents with students in failing schools.”
Gov. Bentley said, “For the first time ever, we’re giving all public schools the flexibility they need to better serve their students. Every school can now develop new ideas that come from their local teachers and their local principals and then put those ideas into practice. Local educators deserve the freedom and opportunity to make their schools better. That’s what this legislation provides.”
Gov. Bentley said, “As promised, this bill gives flexibility without infringing on the rights and responsibilities of our classroom teachers. This bill shows that we trust our teachers to innovate and to develop new programs to reach our children. And this bill shows families that we’re committed to making sure their children have access to a quality education.”
Bentley admitted that there are many unanswered question surrounding the legislation. The Governor said, “Some concerns have been raised regarding the impact of this legislation. The Department of Revenue and the State Department of Education are reviewing this bill and can develop responsible rules and regulations to address various concerns. The most important thing right now is to make sure our schools, our families and our children have the tools they need. This bill gives them that flexibility.”
The bill had passed both the House and the Senate two weeks earlier but Judge Charles Price (D) had written an order preventing the legislature from actually transmitting the legislation to the Governor. On Wednesday, the all Republican Supreme Court of Alabama overturned that ruling.
It is highly likely that Alabama Education Association (AEA) Executive Secretary Henry Mabry will file another lawsuit in hopes that a court will block the legislation from going into effect. The teachers unions in Alabama oppose any school choice measures because if students leave public schools for private schools, public schools will lose teacher units and the unions’ members will lose job.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “I am deeply disappointed that the governor signed this bill as is without any executive amendments. This new law will devastate our schools and cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s education budget. But the legal challenges will continue, and Democrats will continue our fight to repeal this disastrous law.”
The Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said, “The enemies of education reform will continue to file baseless actions and fight the changes that our public education system desperately needs.”