Alabama lawmakers likely to consider school choice legislation this session
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Governor Kay Ivey this week declared School Choice Week in Alabama as Republican state officials call on parents to have more of a say in their child’s education.
Freshman Rep. Susan DuBose says she thinks there could be enough support in the legislature this session to pass a school choice bill.
“I have heard from almost all new legislators that they are in favor of school choice. I heard from our House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter that he is pro-school choice,” DuBose (R-Hoover) said. “I think this is the year.”
DuBose says it is considering sponsoring or co-sponsoring the school choice legislation. She says the goal is to “let the money follow the student” by putting taxpayer money into the neighborhood they choose for their child rather than the neighborhood they live in.
DuBose notes that in part of his Jefferson County district, 17 schools are in the bottom 6% of the state.
“It’s not fair to these students,” DuBose said. “They are surrounded by districts with very, very successful schools. These pupils must therefore be given the opportunity to go to a school and receive the best possible education.
DuBose says she hopes the school choice will create competition that will ultimately help all schools succeed. But that’s not the competition schools need, according to Rep. Barbara Drummond.
Drummond says it’s honesty and resources that should go to the most struggling schools before funds are embezzled.
“For what will become of the teachers who remain? What will happen to the students? Drummond (D-Mobile) said. “Then we wouldn’t have solved the problem. We will only deduce or move the problem.
Drummond says moving funding from one school to another simply puts a Band-Aid on educational disparities rather than addressing the problem.
She says she would like to see more support and funding for public schools and for initiatives such as the Literacy and Math Act — noting that the state has improved scores for public schools this year, according to the National Education Progress Assessment.
“We have to heal ourselves from the inside out,” Drummond said. “Because that’s how we create a better workforce. We will create economic opportunities for our state and we will create better students in our education system.
Terri Collins, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, also weighed in on the likelihood that a school choice bill would pass this session, despite failed attempts in recent years.
She says she has not officially tabled any bills yet, but thinks there will be a “different mood” in the Assembly this year.
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