AEA's opposition to the Alabama Accountability Act is justified and will continue
A recent column by John Hilliard criticized the Alabama Education Association for our opposition to the so-called Alabama Accountability Act.
Not only does he unfairly disparage AEA, he perpetuates discredited myths and the unfounded notion that the law somehow benefits the poor and disadvantaged children of our state.
Let’s set the record straight. Instead of improving public education, the Accountability Act will drain more than $40 million from schools that are already severely underfunded, according to data given to the State Board of Education.
Students in the poorest schools in the poorest districts are, in fact, punished most under the Accountability Act. Ironically, these are the very same children the Accountability Act purports to help. These schools are already deep in the throes of multi-year budget cuts. Now these students and teachers are being forced to make do with even less.
According to its authors, the Accountability Act is intended, among other things, to provide $3,500-per-child per-year tax credits to parents who transfer their children from “failing” public schools to private schools.
In reality, the tax credit provision siphons millions from the Education Trust Fund and public schools. Further, transfers to private school are largely inaccessible to Alabama’s poorest families because of tuition cost and geography.
There are some winners under the Accountability Act, however. Prizes include giveaways to for-profit corporations by way of up to $25 million in tax credits to for donations to a “scholarship program” ostensibly meant to help poor students afford a transfer to private and for-profit schools. The virtually unregulated tax credit drains even more from public schools, and potentially gives for-profit corporations unprecedented influence over education policy in Alabama.
These are facts Mr. Hilliard conveniently fails to mention.
Put simply, the Alabama Accountability Act is bad law. It costs money that we simply don’t have. It harms the poorest schools and students while rewarding big business.
The Alabama Education Association stands with all of Alabama’s students and teachers. We stand with them against an ill-conceived, unfairly punitive policy passed into law by trickery and deceit. We are determined and proud to fight on behalf of public education in Alabama, whether in courts of law or the court of public opinion.
And make no mistake about it – the AEA is in this fight to stay.
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