Accountability Act News–Mary Sell covers Montgomery for newspapers in Decatur and Florence and does a great job . Here is her recent article looking at what the scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) did with the money they handed out in 2014. As you see, the majority of scholarships given by one group went to students already attending private schools. When you look at all the info on the Alabama Department of Revenue web site about the AAA, you learn that more than 1,000 students who had been in a private school for at least one year got $4 million in scholarships.
Of course, when this bill was hurriedly passed in February 2013, none of those promoting it mentioned this would happen. Instead, the public was told this legislation was all about “helping poor kids stuck in failing schools by their zip codes.”
I Stand Corrected–In this recent blog post I stated that expenses for the office of the Speaker of the House rose 92 percent from 2009 to 2014. However, my friend Senator Arthur Orr of Decatur called my attention to the fact that since 2009, the Speaker’s office has taken on oversight of more legislative activities, which means 2009 budget numbers can not accurately be compared to 2014.
I appreciate him calling this to my attention.
On The Road Again–As is my nature, I’ve been running the roads the last couple of days. Tuesday I had the pleasure of speaking to the retired educators group in Lawrence County. Lots of fun to make new friends and share local info. And looking into the faces of so many who gave their lives to our young people is always a humbling experience. Where would we be without them? For some reason, I doubt many of the policymakers who insist we have done such a poor job in education for years would be willing to stand before such folks and tell them the same face-to-face.
The closure of the International Paper mill, the largest employer in the county, in Lawrence County in 2014 has been a dagger in the heart to the local economy. It was estimated that annual budgets in the town of Courtland (home of the mill), Lawrence County and the county school system would lost $2.3 million in revenue.
And to help meet the needs of certain students, the retired educators fill nearly 100 backpacks with food at a local church each Wednesday during school. They raise $10,000 annually to support this effort.
Today I was at the other end of the state speaking to the Covington County retired educators. It is always fun to go back to the area where my family has such deep roots. I visited with longtime friends such as Allen Miller, former Opp superintendent, Peggy Mobley who taught in the county for a lifetime, Andalusia city superintendent Ted Watson, former county commission chairman Greg White and others.
One of the attendees made a point of telling me that my Grandpa Lee was her school bus driver. We met at Andalusia Elementary, an excellent school and quite an asset to this community.
Touched a Nerve–Late Saturday night I posted this piece that has drawn more interest than anything I’ve written so far on this blog. Since then, more than 19,000 people have viewed this post and I have received a host of emails and comments. Obviously there is tremendous dissatisfaction with what is going on (or not going on) in Montgomery these days.