Congressman Bradley Byrne, already an announced candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020, took the stage with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to announce his support for a program offering Federal tax credits for donations to scholarships for private schools. Think of it as the Alabama Accountability Act on steroids. You can see the AL.com article about Bryne’s move here.
This seems to an odd move by Bryne, considering that he was the odds on favorite to be elected governor of Alabama in 2010, until he launched a full scale attack on the state’s public schools. This triggered an all out effort by the Alabama Education Association to make sure Bryne’s campaign was not successful.
Consequently, Bryne lost the primary runoff to Robert Bentley. And we all know the rest of that story.
It also seems strange that Byrne is cozying up to Devos, who in 2017 called out Mobile County schools for earning a failing grade on school choice. She got her info from a Brookings Institute study, that then superintendent Martha Peek called “a bunch of political garbage” and nothing but an advertisement for charter schools and vouchers.
Truth is, the Mobile system may offer the widest range of choices for their students of any system in the state. This is because of the 12 signature academies ranging from pre-med to aviation and aerospace and much more. In fact, the Bryant high school Academy of Coastal Studies was named earlier this week as a Banner School by the Council for Leaders of Alabama Schools.
One would think that Bryne learned that it is not good politics to rally the education community against you. Especially since another candidate for this seat is probably going to be state senator Del Marsh, who signed a letter endorsing DeVos for Secretary of Education before she was picked by President Trump.
DeVos does not have the support of the vast majority of educators as her track record prior to going to Washington was decidedly anti-public schools. DeVos has been a major contributor to the Alabama Federation for Children in their efforts to hand pick members of the Alabama State Board of Education and certain legislators.
So DeVos comes up with anti-public school legislation–after talking about how bad our schools are and trying to influence our political process by sharing some of her millions of dollars with us–and Bryne embraces her?
Someone once said that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” Bradley Bryne proves they were right.