The PTOs of Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook city school systems held their 14th annual PTO Legislative Forum the evening of Nov. 15.  All legislators representing this area attended.  They included State Senators Jabo Waggoner and Dan Roberts and House members David Faulkner, Jim Carns and David Wheeler.

All are Republicans and Roberts and Wheeler are new to the legislature.

Questions were asked about new funding for schools, the state education budget, school choice, school assessment, school safety and mental health.

Having written extensively about the Alabama Accountability Act (choice) and the A-F school report cards (assessment), I was especially interested in response to each of these.  Here are pertinent sections of an article from the Vestavia Voice:

“SCHOOL CHOICE

PTO representatives also asked how legislators felt about the state spending about $30 million in each year in scholarships for students to transfer out of failing schools, which they said only hurts failing schools more and profits private schools over public schools.

Wheeler said he wants the Alabama Accountability Act, which authorized the expenditure, to be repealed, arguing it “benefits a few at the sacrifice of many.”

Faulkner disagreed, saying he’s seen poor children benefit from the act, moving into better schools. Faulkner argued the act does not hurt Vestavia and Mountain Brook schools.

SCHOOL ASSESSMENT

Talking about “failing schools,” PTO representatives asked how legislators felt about the A through F report card.

Wheeler and Faulkner again disagreed, with Faulkner saying while it may have some issues, he supports the system, with Wheeler saying it was very flawed and an “administrative burden,” arguing the state legislature should listen to educators on this issue.

“A score on one standardized test does not accurately reflect on what you do,” Wheeler said.”

As you see, there is a stark contrast between how Wheeler and Faulkner see things.  Knowing what I know, I have to feel that Wheeler has done his homework while Faulkner has not.

This is certainly true when Faulkner says that neither Vestavia Hills or Mountain Brook systems have been hurt by the accountability act.  He doesn’t seem to understand that all systems are funded from the Education Trust Fund and that when money is diverted from ETF, there is less money to spend on EVERY system in the state.

Presently the accountability act has diverted $!46.6 million from ETF since 2013.  This amounts to $201 per student–including those in Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook.  This adds up to $867,516 for Mountain Brook and $1,437,351 for Vestavia Hills.

Records show that from Jan. 1 through Nov. 2 Faulkner raised more than $200,000 for his re-election campaign and still has more than $175,000 in the bank.  Number One.  Perhaps he can take some of this money and help his schools make up for what AAA has cost them.  Number Two.  Perhaps he should sit down with David Wheeler and get up to speed on some education issues.