Alabama Accountability Act Helping Resegregate Students

Gather all the info available on the Alabama Accountability Act, spend hours looking at numbers and punching a calculator and one of the conclusions you come to is that this scholarship program, fueled by dollars diverted from the Education Trust Fund, is giving far more aid to highly-segregated schools (both white and black) than those that are not.

The most recent official enrollment numbers from the Alabama State Department of Education show in 2014-15 we had 733,089 K 12 students and 33.1 percent were black.  For the most part, most schools in a system do not divert much from the system average.  For instance, average for Decatur City is 31.7 percent black.  The 17 schools in the system range from 18 percent to 45.6 percent.

But this consistency is not the case with private schools receiving scholarship money as the lion’s share of funding has gone to schools that are very segregated.

There are currently 179 private schools enrolled in AAA.  According to reports filed with the Alabama Department of Revenue by scholarship granting organizations (SGO) at the end of September, 37 have not received scholarships.  Of those that have, info on their black/white student population is available for only 125.

Thanks to excellent work by Trish Crain at the Alabama School Connection, we know 66 schools have a black population of 15 percent or less, 33 are 85 percent or higher and only 26 are somewhere in between these two ranges.  Seventeen have no white students and six have no black students.

As you would expect, the less integrated schools have received the vast majority of scholarship funds paid out by Sept. 30, 2015.  Of the total of $7,695,480 awarded, 75.3 percent went to those with 15 percent or less black students or 85 percent or more black students.

And of the 3,586 scholarships awarded in these 125 schools, only 23.7 percent went to students either previously attending a failing school or zoned to attend one.  Of course, the original intent of the accountability act was to help failing schools and failing students, but this bill never came close to fulfilling that pledge.

We have now diverted more than $54 million from the Education Trust Fund to fund AAA since it was created in 2013.  We have 735,000 students in our public schools.  Somehow enough Senators and Representatives were convinced AAA was good education policy to pass it.

But once again, we see it is little more than a broken promise.




4 Responses to Alabama Accountability Act Helping Resegregate Students

  1. “Somehow enough Senators and Representatives were convinced AAA was good education policy to pass it.”

    I’m pretty sure we know how the “somehow” happened as Del Marsh and his merry band of co-conspirator ideologues lined up not just the votes but also apparently “convinced” their fellow travelers to participate in most low-down stunt in the entire low-down history of Alabama politics. These self-professed “conservatives” actually double-crossed their own allies on the “Flex Bill” that was apparently just a stalking horse. These same self-professed “conservatives” violated provisions in the Alabama Constitution designed to slow things down up on Goat Hill so the people could keep the politicians from pulling a fast one on the populace.

    Returning to any of the politicians being “convinced” about this AAA mess being good policy, I’d submit that more than a few now know they were fooled and regret their decision. Smart politics, as opposed to what Henry Mabry and his crack consultants did back in 2014, would have been to run right at AAA on both policy and process. Even now, while opportunities have been lost there’s still value in making politicians talk about AAA. There’s a scab there and it needs picking.

    Every so often, some journalists will cover AAA but rarely, if ever, will they go to the politicians and demand more than a slick prepared quote. The “school choice” crowd pushing a “market forces can solve all that ails us” vision rely on platitudes substituting for policy. The failure of so many in the media to demand more than sloganeering, on AAA or many other issues, might keep them where they can get access to politicians but it’s frankly not doing the citizenry any favors.

    Revisiting the way the AAA was passed and how the Alabama Supreme Court, in propping it up via some seriously stretched reasoning, opened the door for future shenanigans are stories which merit more attention from the media. That’s especially true as more and more information comes out which reveals more and more mischief in this rushed through and undebated bill.

    Similarly, how many of the schools are teaching religious fundamentalism via ABeka/Bob Jones curriculum is a story which not a single journalist in Alabama has touched. If AEA hasn’t had one of their employees at least do the background research and then start shopping it to journalists then that’s yet another illustration of how ineffective it has become. If such a canned story can’t be handed off, then that probably means management at media outlets doesn’t want to frustrate Marsh, BCA/BEA, etc. If that’s the case, and I’ve heard that’s so, that story surely needs telling.

  2. Alabama’s UN-Accountability Law.

    Fred E Reynolds, retired Cherokee County High School Principal

    The AAA was passed, or so we were told, to help poor kids go to a better school. But what has happened reveals a sordid story of greed.

    What it did was give $54.5 million and still spending, of our public school money to private schools.

    It gives private high schools $10,000 per student. The state only sends public schools $5,800 per student. Why the difference?

    Is that conservative fiscal policy. Or has it just been packaged and sold as conservative fiscal policy?

    And remember 5 percent of that $54.5 million went to former governor Bob Riley and a few other groups to hand out the “scholarships.” And in addition it has become an excellent investment for individuals and corporations to make profit off of their “investments” rather than their “donations,” at our expense.

    Just one more thought. Surely you don’t think any of the private schools used any of this money to hand out “scholarships” to athletes from our public schools do you? Could that be the reason they give bigger “scholarships” from our money for high schools students? Just askin’.

    Wouldn’t that be a joke. Using our money to buy our athletes to beat us! Kinda’ like whipping us twice with the same switch!

    I’m tired of politicians telling us what to think. It is about time they listened to us and voted like we want rather than how the party says vote, regardless of which party.

    If we don’t tell this story to the people, they get away with it.

    • While you overall contention is correct, some of your numbers are not. But the primary point is that we were told one thing when reality was entirely different.

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