By Terri Michal
While reading both charter bills, SB 45 and HB 192, I realized that for those Alabamians that are paying attention there is literally something for EVERYONE to detest in these bills, everyone except those that are profiting from them. Could the corporate ‘Party of Greed’, with Sen. Marsh, Rep. Hubbard, and Rep. Terri Collins at the helm, be any more obvious about whom they pledge their allegiance to? As the billions of dollars roll in on the side of the corporations the peoples’ voices are being drowned out. In order to win our government back what other choice will the people of Alabama have but to find common ground on individual issues and join forces in opposition to these corporate led legislators? The charter bills in Alabama give us a perfect opportunity to do just that. Our perspectives may be different but our goals are the same. Rid the legislative process of corporate greed so that the will of the people will truly be served.
This weekend we marched to show respect for those that stood tall while facing their oppressors in Selma, Alabama 50 years ago. Yet today we stay silent about the most important event to affect our children in Alabama’s public schools since desegregation. We need to stand now for the rights of ALL of our public school’s students to have an equitable, quality public education led by professionals that possess the tools needed to allow each child to achieve at their highest ability. We must ask ourselves; do we really believe that our current public schools cannot provide that? I do not. I believe our educator’s hands have been tied and our high poverty schools set up to fail, BUT if you do believe our public schools cannot provide what our students need then I contend, wouldn’t it make more sense to change the laws like the ‘Party of Greed’ is proposing for the charter schools so that they can? Putting another layer of bureaucracy over a system that is drowning in it and allowing more hands to be raking in the cash that is already stretched PAST its limits is not an acceptable answer. Read the Fiscal Note for SB 45 and you will find this interesting little bit “In addition, the provisions of this bill will further increase the administrative and fiscal obligations of the State Department of Education by an estimated $500,000 annually for personnel and other departmental costs associated with hiring an additional 4 employees to carry out the provisions of this bill.” and with that one statement the money drain begins.
With these two charter bills that are basically one in the same, our politicians will have the ultimate say in our public schools. Eight of the nine appointed positions on the state Charter Commission will come from the leaders of the House and the Senate, the Governor and the State Superintendent. Everything else aside, from that one bit of information, do you really feel our students’ best interest will be met or could it be this commission will be so politicized that it will actually serve the needs of those that appointed them? Isn’t it also a problem when we have commissions appointed by politicians that can override elected local school boards? In these proposed bills they will be condemning our children to classrooms with no certified teachers, corporations will be able to convert ENTIRE SCHOOL SYSTEMS to charter schools against the will of the people, the non-profits holding the license to the charter will be able to take the local, state and federal dollars it obtains, that should be used for our children’s PUBLIC education, and funnel it through for profit companies where it will be almost impossible to trace and use it, instead, to line their pockets. Hubbard has already been accused of taking $7,500 a month in kick-backs from one education service provider before the bill is even signed, yet we look the other way and pretend the children’s best interest will be honored.
We can stop these charter bills, the power of the people proved its might 50 years ago and it can again this week if we are only willing to take that step of faith that what is right will prevail and that, united, our voices have power. We must hold our legislators accountable for their failures to create equitable schools, not hand them the weapons to use against us, and that is indeed what these bills are. Weapons. Weapons used by the politically powerful and extremely wealthy to ensure that their power and wealth continues to grow, weapons that will suppress and marginalize a people, weapons used to divide and conquer. There can be no other explanation for a bill that is written by Republicans but takes power away from local elected school boards and puts it in the hands of an appointed state committee.
The new fight coming to politics is no longer the Left against the Right. It is the corporate interests against the people. The Party of Greed will eat everyone in its path, Republican or Democrat; no one’s interest will be protected but their own. Please call and write your Legislators, both in the House and Senate NOW, tell them that they are elected to represent the PEOPLE OF ALABAMA. Tell them to say NO to the Alabama School Choice and Opportunity Act.
Terri Michal is founder of her own grassroots group, SOS Support our Students. She also heads the Alabama BATs, is an administrator with the national Badass Teacher’s Association, and is Co-chair of Moral Monday Alabama. You may contact her at [email protected]