Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


We must protect and increase our investment in public education

Quality public education is fundamental to our culture, to our communities, and to our future.


As Alabama children adjust to their first few weeks back to school, I strongly believe that it’s important that we take a moment to reflect upon how public education has positively transformed Alabama. Countless studies over many decades prove that public education opens the door to new opportunities and increases an individual’s lifetime earnings potential.

Indisputably, public education, especially public post-secondary education, is directly responsible for our collective economic and social prosperity. There is simply no question that it substantively benefits everyone in our society.

This is why we must commit to protecting and increasing our investments in public education, rather than diminish them.

I say these things to give context to why I am so deeply concerned about recent proposals I have heard from the Governor’s office, and my colleagues across the aisle, that would siphon huge amounts of taxpayer dollars from Alabama’s Education Trust Fund budget towards private schools or other types of non-public schools.

Often these school voucher programs are marketed as providing parents a “choice” as to where they can send their children to school. However, these voucher schemes do not account for the fact that private institutions are not required to adhere to the same rigorous standards as public schools. Also, they are not required to provide specialized instruction or resources for children with special needs.

This is not an attempt to demonize private schools, many of which are excellent. Yet, they exist to make a profit. So, if they, or the parents who are sending their children there, begin to receive taxpayer dollars, what is to stop them from raising their tuition simply to make more profit? Furthermore, labeling these types of voucher schemes as “school choice” is misleading. Unlike their urban counterparts, rural communities with only one school would be simply left behind. These communities would see their overall funding reduced because that money would be spent in urban areas to subsidize private schools. That just doesn’t make sense and it’s fundamentally unfair.

On top of these school voucher schemes, there have also been efforts, like the “divisive concepts” bill, that put teachers’ jobs in jeopardy. Under the ‘divisive concepts” bill, teachers could face disciplinary action or be fired for having honest and open conversations about our history or other “controversial” subjects. This has had a chilling effect on educators and our ability to attract and retain new teachers.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

According to a Stand for Children and SurveyUSA study that surveyed 2,000 teachers nationwide, 37 percent were likely to leave the profession if laws like the “divisive concepts” bill are enacted. That certainly doesn’t sound like an effective tool to attract and keep teachers in our state.

In order to improve public education in Alabama, we must ensure that all our schools are funded appropriately and equitably. We must pay our educators salaries that are competitive with other states and ensure they have the resources they need to bolster academic success for our children. This is why I urge you to contact your legislators and demand that they protect and increase our funding for Alabama public schools.

One final thought, we must commit to keeping our schools safe by funding security and violence prevention programs. No child should be afraid to go to school. Teachers should not be asked to carry a gun in their classrooms out of fear that a mass shooting could occur. In Alabama, there have already been 55 school shootings this year. One is far too many.

Therefore, as we look ahead to the 2024 legislative session, let’s keep our efforts focused on closing the academic achievement gap, addressing our teacher shortage, and making sure our schools are safe. Let’s expand on the success of Alabama’s world-class pre-K programs. Let’s create career pathways for our children that ensures their lifelong success and prosperity.

Quality public education is fundamental to our culture, to our communities, and to our future. Let’s fund it that way and protect our investment.

Rep. Barbara Boyd has served House District 32 since 1994.

More from APR

Featured Opinion

We know the answers to fixing struggling schools. But a lot of people would just rather take the money and run.


In the fall of 2022, Ivey launched the turnaround schools initiative, targeting $15 million for the 15 schools that needed it most.


The lieutenant governor is statutorily responsible for creating, administering and overseeing the application process. 


The schools are part of an initiative targeting funds to help support "overwhelming needs."