Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, has been working diligently all session to pass HB 245 which would amend the present charter school bill passed just two years ago.
She was poised to bring up the bill before her own committee several times, but didn’t because she did not have enough votes to pass it out of committee. She finally got over this hurdle when one “no” vote switched to “yes.”
She was not so fortunate when the bill came before the full house on May 4. It was not only defeated, but RESOUNDINGLY so.
The Republicans hold a majority of House seats, 71 vs. 34 for the Democrats. Yet Collins could only round up 31 others, besides herself, to vote in favor of the bill. And of the 48 “nay” votes, 22 of them were Republicans. In addition, 18 other Republicans did not vote at all.
The Alabama Education Association was strongly opposed to the bill because they believe it took more power away from local school boards. They worked the bill very hard and encouraged legislators to check with their local superintendents to see how they felt.
Collins has been a force to be reckoned with since becoming chair of this committee in 2015. But there is a definite power shift underway since Mac McCutchen became Speaker of the House after Mike Hubbard was convicted of 12 felony counts last year. The fact that Collins had so much trouble moving this bill from the committee she chairs is evidence that some legislative winds are now blowing in a different direction.
This can only be seen as good news for public education as Collins is not considered a friend of public schools in the least. She sponsored the A-F school grading bill, even though no educators can figure out how it is supposed to benefit them. She has also been an outspoken proponent of the Alabama Accountability Act and charter schools.