By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Maybe it’s because I am a father and my wife is a teacher that I have a unique perspective. But I believe, wholeheartedly, that every child deserves a quality education. A quality education regardless of if they are zoned for this school or that school, can afford private school or can’t afford private school.
Alabama should provide a quality education for all of our children. It shouldn’t be a luxury. Our state’s school system should be nurturing and encouraging each child’s gifts—not simply calling some children worthy and some unworthy. How this is even acceptable in the year 2014, I have no idea.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Accountability Act does. The act literally is the government’s way of telling some children they are failures and don’t deserve a quality education while other children do.
It is a flawed law. Rather than fixing the failing school for everyone, it ships the children essentially deemed “worthy of better” to a different school, while the other children are left with any even worse school than before. Why is our state government giving up on our children and our schools?
Giving up on our children and our schools is never the answer. It should never be our government’s answer. Yet, under the current law that’s exactly what we’ve done. The current leadership in Montgomery has sent a very clear and direct message to the people of Alabama by pushing the Accountability Act into law: they are only interested in helping some of our children while thousands of others are left behind without any hope.
Because isn’t that what our school are, hope for the future? Equipping our children, the future leaders and decision makers of Alabama, with the tools they need to find jobs, support their families and help build a better Alabama?
How can we expect these children to want to stay in Alabama, make lives for themselves and help continue to make our state the best it can be, when our own government has literally labeled some of them as failures at such a young age?
The answer is simple. We can’t. That is why we must put people in leadership positions that will repeal the Accountability Act and recommit our state to supporting education—rather than simply abandoning it.
The best way to do that isn’t through backroom deals, or pushing questionable laws into affect. It’s by a strong show of support to our schools, to our children and to the future. It’s not by embracing the Accountability Act.
Alabama has a lot of things to be proud of. And our citizens are a prideful bunch, just go to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Troy or Auburn on any given fall Saturday and see just how proud we can, rightly, be.
Unfortunately, the Accountability Act isn’t one of the things we should be proud of. But it’s not too late. We can change the law, and give our children a better chance. Give them something to be proud of, and show our children that we are proud of them.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.