My colleague Trish Crain, who runs the Alabama School Connection blog, does a super job of digging deep into numbers and coming up with graphs, charts and maps. (She is obviously far more proficient with a computer and all of its bells and whistles than I am. But then, she ain’t nearly as old and tech deficient as I am either.)
Last week the Alabama Department of Revenue released the first info showing which private schools are receiving scholarship students through the Alabama Accountability Act.
So Trish has mapped both the locations of “failing schools” and private schools benefiting from AAA.
It is very insightful and again raises questions about how well the accountability act is doing in helping students in failing schools.
The red dots represent failing schools. Green dots are private schools getting scholarships. Notice the red dots across the Black Belt and the fact there are no green dots nearby. Since students moving from a failing school to a private school must provide their own transportation, this distance is a HUGE issue and one that was totally ignored when this law was crafted.
Warren Callaway runs the Scholarship for Kids scholarship granting organization (SGO) in Birmingham and tells me that even for students in urban locations, transportation is an issue and that unless a private school is within just a few miles of the public school the student presently attends, they are unlikely to go to the private school.
Also note where the green dots are located and how many of them are not in counties that have failing schools. For instance, a private school in Dothan has gotten 86 scholarships, yet the closest failing school is in Abbeville, some 25 miles away. And while three private schools in Cullman County received 108 scholarships, the nearest failing school is 35 miles away in Decatur.
A quick review of Trish’s map shows at least 19 private schools in counties where there are no failing schools have received 363 scholarships.
Remember when this law was passed in 2013 and we were told by legislative leadership that it was all about “helping kids stuck in failing schools by their zip codes?”
It is hard to look at this map and believe what we were told.