The Board of Education tor the Russellville city school system is the latest local school board to pass a resolution calling for the repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act.

Here is their resolution:

Whereas, the legislation known as the Alabama Accountability Act was passed in 2013 with no guidance or input from educators; and

Whereas, this act was initially touted as a way to help students who attended “failing schools” by offering them a pathway to non-failing schools or scholarships to private schools, and

Whereas, various studies have consistently shown that less than 35 percent of all scholarships go to students “zoned” for “failing schools”; and

Whereas, research from the University of Alabama about academic achievement of students in the Alabama Accountability Act shows, “In 78 percent of the comparisons made between scholarship recipients and public school students, there was no statistically significant difference between the scholarship recipients and students attending public schools,” and

Whereas, AAA has now accumulated five years of historical data establishing that it has not served its intended purpose, and instead has caused harm to the financial well-being and academic progress of public school systems in Alabama; and

Whereas, each dollar designated for scholarships is a dollar diverted from the Alabama Education Trust Fund; and

Whereas, up to $30 million dollars annually has been diverted from the Education Trust Fund and public schools due to AAA regulations; and

Whereas, the AAA has diverted $481,194 from Russellville City Schools since its inception;

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Russellville City Board of Education strongly recommends to the Alabama legislature that the Alabama Accountability Act be repealed, or at a minimum strongly modified’ when the legislature meets in regular session in 2019

The Russellville City Board of Education hereby authorizes and directs its Superintendent to provide a copy of this resolution to each member of the Franklin County legislative delegation and urge them to support repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013.

Adopted this 24th day of January, 2019.

Heath Grimes is superintendent of this system.  We asked him why he and his board took this action.  He was very straight forward.

“We do feel that students in Alabama who are in failing schools need an option and a way out.  We disagree, however, that the bill is doing all it was said to do.  We do not feel that students who have not or who have never been zoned in a failing school should be able to get scholarship money that is being diverted from the ETF.  

We disagree with the secretive and manipulative way the bill was passed.  There should be a more fair and much clearer way to determine failing schools.  Currently our failing schools list is not the same schools that received an “F” or in some cases even a “D” or “C” on the state report card. Using the lowest 6% of scores on an achievement test hardly determines if a school is effective.  What if a school has 100% poverty, high rates of special education, and ELL students.  That school without an enormous amount of resources ($$$), training, and without recruiting and incentivizing an inordinate amount of very strong educators (which isn’t likely in a high poverty area), will always have lower than average achievement scores, based on educational research.  

But what if the students in that school were growing academically more than ever before and showed strong academic growth.  You could essentially move students out of an effective school into an ineffective one based on the wrong numbers.  Achievement scores do not equate to good teachers or effective schools.  They usually equate to demographics and affluence vs poverty.  Effective schools are measured by growth.”

AAA has proven this beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Well done Heath Grimes and the Russellville City Board of Education.  We need many more education folks to follow their lead.