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Riley’s SGO Sponsors March For School Choice

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—School choice supporters will gather for a historic march on Montgomery, Wednesday, January 28, to “demand greater school choice in the Yellowhammer State,” according to Sonya DiCarlo, Director of Communications for former Gov. Bob Riley’s Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund (SGO).

The rally for school choice is headlined by Dr. Howard Fuller, head of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), according to the Riley press release.

BAEO is a Washington-based 501(c)3, which according to its website, works “to increase access to high quality education options for Black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class Black families.”

They have received millions in funding from a “variety of corporate and philanthropic organizations, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation,” according to

Dr. Fuller’s organization is a proponent of Common Core Standards according to the organizations website, which states, “BAEO supports the standards and will work to generate greater support of the standards within the Black community. The standards will better equip parents with knowledge about what their child should be learning in certain grades.”

Dr. Fuller is the former Milwaukee school superintendent, a city that has the dubious distinction of having 4 out of its 10 charter schools cited for providing substandard education, according to a resent report published by the Milwaukee Express.

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According to the article, “If Republican lawmakers think that charter schools are an effective vehicle to increase student performance while providing public transparency, they should take another look at the city of Milwaukee’s experience with its 10 charter schools.

“Four of these taxpayer-funded schools are doing so poorly, that according to their annual review, a case could be made for shuttering them.”

So, this is the man who will keynote the march to demand more school choice in Alabama.

Other than Riley’s SGO, the event is being promoted by the Alabama Federation for Children which is lead by former Mike Hubbard acolyte Ryan Cantrell. Alabama Federation for Children is a branch of American Federation for Children, which is affiliated with John F. Kirtley, Riley’s partner in the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

Kirtley, along with Betsy DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune, will lead the board of the American Federation for Children. Board member William E. Oberndorf, a San Francisco billionaire who has poured big campaign donation into Alabama this last election cycle is also on the board.

In the Riley press release DiCarlo said, “Parents across the State are knocking down our doors to apply for scholarships that will open the doors to educational opportunity. It’s time to celebrate something that has never before been available in the State of Alabama, choice in education.”

However, recent filings show that Riley’s SGO has suffered a down turn in funding with less than $700,000 in donation in this cycle.

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Other groups will also participate in the march, including the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) which is an ardent supporter of Common Core.

The event is designed, according DiCarlo, to send “a clear message that leaders in Montgomery must dedicate themselves to protecting and expanding K-12 educational choices for children and families.”

The march and rally will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Montgomery, and attendees will march to the South Lawn of the Alabama Capitol.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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