The Montgomery County board of education passed a resolution in October calling for the repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act.
I was on the board that did this, I wrote much of the resolution and I voted for it.
So, I was more than a little surprised when I read a recent article by Rachel Bryars of the Alabama Policy Institute telling me why I did what I did and how I was intent on hurting needy children.
The article was titled: School boards are choosing systems over students by calling for scholarship repeal.
This title is totally inaccurate, as is most of her article.
To be correct, it should have said something like: Schools boards are looking out for students in their system instead of those in private schools.
Every school board member takes an oath that they will do all they can to help their system and its students. And as required by the School Board Governance Improvement Act of 2012 board members must sign a certificate of affirmation. Number one on this lists states: That each decision, action and vote I take or make as a member of the school board shall be based solely on the needs and interests of students or the system.
Obviously Ms. Bryars has not bothered to do her homework. Or she would know that the boards of public school systems should be concerned about public schools only.
API is a huge supporter of the accountability act. The one that diverts money from the state Education Trust Fund to give scholarships so students can attend private schools.
Montgomery is one of four systems to pass such a resolution. The others are Mobile, Baldwin and Tallapoosa counties.
Ms. Bryars would have you believe that these four systems have all the funding they need and are being cold-hearted by calling for money to stop being diverted.
That is laughable.
So immediately after reading her article I sent Ms. Bryars an email inviting her to come visit some public schools in Montgomery and see for herself. Told her I would be glad to arrange her visit.
Got no response.
I would take her to visit some science teachers who can’t remember the last time they got new textbooks, would take her to the present home of our magnet performing arts high school that is crammed into an abandoned elementary school because their school burned down a few months ago.
Would take her to another magnet school that is housed in a building constructed in 1910 and would take her to see Curtis Black, the principal at Goodwyn middle school who got 300 new students back in August and has them crammed into every nook and cranny he can find.
Would also suggest she take a look at the national website, DonorsChoose, where teachers around the country show projects they need funding for. There are presently 38 projects listed by Montgomery teachers. Guess they don’t know their system has more money than it can use.
As to the contention that this system is not looking out for children, figures from the state department of education show there are now 16,202 students in this system on free or reduced lunches.
Anyone who knows anything about education know these are our most at-risk students.
Ms. Bryars must think we have zero obligation to these children. That we should say it is OK to take money that might be used to boost their education and give it to private schools instead?
And how did API determine MPS is flush with cash? Because we have had an increase in funding since 2008. However, they fail to point out that shortly after 2008 the state Education Trust Fund dropped tremendously and funding today is less than it was ten years ago.
Schools in Alabama need all the help they can get. We certainly don’t need the kind of falsehoods and half-truths the Alabama Policy Institute insists on peddling.