Most of us heard the parable of the Good Samaritan at an early age. Probably in a Sunday School Class. And in Alabama, it was probably a Baptist Sunday School.
As you remember, Jesus told the story of a Jewish traveler who was beaten and left by the side of the road. A priest saw him, but did not help. Then a Levite came along and like the priest, did not lend a hand. And even though Samaritans and Jews did not like each other, it was a Samaritan who came to the aid of the traveler.
The point being, of course, that we are to help those most in need.
This is where those who drafted the Alabama Accountability Act forgot what they learned in Sunday School. Because while the law makes a big deal out of identifying the bottom six percent of all public schools as “failing,” they made no mention of trying to help these struggling schools in any form or fashion.
We have now published six lists of so-called “failing” schools. Most years there are about 75 schools identified. (We will soon get the latest list.)
Nine schools have been on this list every single time. R. B. Hudson Middle in Selma; Central High in Tuscaloosa; Camden School of Arts & Technology in Wilcox County; Bullock County High in Union Springs; Robert Brown Middle in Greene County; Bellingrath Middle and Capitol Heights Middle in Montgomery County and Booker T. Washington Middle and C. L. Scarborough Middle in Mobile County.
For SIX years these schools have been waiting for a Good Samaritan. But all they have seen are priests and Levites.
These schools have 3,989 students; 72.6 percent of whom are on free-reduced lunches and 90.3 percent are black. They are the face of struggling schools across Alabama. The very students legislators claimed they wanted to help when they concocted AAA.
But the fact that this legislation turned its back on our most challenged students and their schools, proves once again that this law was never truly INTENDED to help education, but was all about tax breaks instead.
I have watched in amazement for six years as a state that strongly professes to being guided by Biblical teachings, turns a blind eye to its own moral shortcomings.
It can only be called shameful.
Larry Lee is a former member of the Montgomery County school board and co-author of the study, Lessons Learned From Rural Schools. [email protected]