By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
As everyone expected, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) has filed suit to block the Alabama Accountability Act. The powerful Alabama education workers union has filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court alleging that the legislature violated its’ own rules when the Alabama legislature turned the nine page School Flexibility Act into the twenty seven page Alabama Accountability Act in a conference committee.
Following the Governor’s signature of the historic education reform package AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry vowed to continue fighting the package. Dr. Mabry said in the ‘Alabama School Journal’, “AEA will never retreat in our battle to overcome this law, which hurts every public school in the state just to pay for some to go to private school. The language in the law, the mistakes in the law, and the outrageous backroom tactics used to pass it provide many ways to attack this outrageous affront to the people of our state, our students, and those who sacrifice so much to teach and work in our public schools.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said in a written statement, “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. 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.”
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said that the bill, “Will be looked back on as historic because it was the start of real education reform in the state of Alabama. We finally have a vehicle through which we can start to address the failing schools in Alabama, to help improve graduation rates, and to ensure that every child no matter where they live has access to good quality public schools.”
After the Republican Alabama Supreme Court rejected the AEA’s previous suit Hubbard said on Facebook, “This ruling clearly demonstrates that constitutional principles and the basic separation of powers take precedence over the patently political actions of a liberal lower court judge. While the enemies of education reform will continue to file baseless actions and fight the changes that our public education system desperately needs, today’s unanimous decision is a great victory for students, parents and educators alike. As a result of this decision, students trapped in failing schools will soon get the educational opportunities they deserve, and their parents can make meaningful choices in how and where their children are taught.”
Secretary Mabry said, “Since 2008, we have 12,000 less teachers and education employees in our schools, little money to buy up-to-date books, less pay and benefits for employees, pre-K for only a fraction of Alabama kids, inadequate funding for the math and science initiative, and no money for securing our schools, yet the private school voucher act permanently prevents adequate money to invest in our public schools. This law mocks the dedication, caring, and hard work of educators across this state who have steadily improved schools over the past 10-years.”
It is doubtful that whatever Montgomery Circuit Judge Gene Reese rules will be accepted by the party that loses the decision and this is also likely not the last legal challenge that the Alabama Accountability Act will face.