By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, public education employees will be holding a rally in Montgomery.
The event is being held as part of public education employee week and is supported by the Alabama Education Association (AEA). Public education employees from around the state will gather on the steps of the state Capitol tomorrow April 9 at noon. The rally will be on the Dexter Avenue side of the Capitol.
Afterwards the group will lobby their legislators.
The Alabama Education Association (AEA), is asking for a 5% pay raise for all K-14 public school employees as well as a 5% cost of living increase for public education retirees.
Last Tuesday, in the Alabama House Ways and Means Committee for Education meeting Chairman Jay Love (R) from Prattville introduced an education budget with a 2% raise for current public school workers with no increase for public school retirees.
AEA Executive Secretary Dr. Henry Mabry said in ‘The Alabama School Journal’ Monday, “School employees have seen pay cuts, reductions in staff, higher health care costs without a raise since 2007, and combined with inflation these professionals are making almost 10 percent less than six years ago when the last raise was given,”
Mabry continued, “Retirees are suffering with increased costs and no COLAs in six years. The Legislature may try to ignore their needs, but AEA will not.”
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “What the House leadership is offering is a slap in the face to educators.” Ford claims that the proposed raise is an insult considering how long educators have gone without a raise and that the Legislature has reduced educators’ pay checks by making them contribute more toward their own retirements.
The AEA is also objecting to the state purchasing liability insurance for public education employees. Currently teachers get protection from often frivolous lawsuits by joining the AEA who provides the coverage as part of AEA membership. Republicans claim that AEA’s membership is inflated by many conservative members who join the union, which historically has been more aligned with liberal Alabama politicians, strictly for the insurance. AEA argues that instead of buying insurance that money should go to pay increases.
The AEA is also lobbying the legislature to repeal the recently passed Alabama Accountability Act which gives parents in failing Alabama public schools a tax credit if they take their kids to another public school or a private school. Republicans argue that competition is needed to improve education.
The AEA and Alabama Democrats object to state education dollars following children to private schools.
Ford said in a written statement, “The Accountability Act is a broken piece of legislation that cannot be fixed or made better. The only solution is to repeal this terrible law and go back to the original education reform proposal that we were debating before the bait-and-switch took place. It is time for a “do-over” – not just because this is a terrible law, but also because of the deceitful and unethical way this legislation became law. And that is why Democrats in the Alabama legislature have introduced a bill that would repeal the Alabama Accountability Act and go back to the original school flexibility proposal that was approved by educators, the Alabama Association of School Boards, the School Superintendents of Alabama, the state school superintendent, and was passed unanimously out of the state senate.”