Considering the present state of public education in Alabama, what is happening in Washington County about the proposed charter school is much, much more significant than it appears to the causal observer.
For one thing, one very important one thing, it is about drawing the line in the sand and saying to those who want to continue to run rough shod over public schools that enough is enough.
One of my great frustrations is that folks at the local school system level are way to prone to simply roll over and play dead. They feel helpless. They think it is fruitless to stand up and scream, “This has got to stop.”
Public education has been on the defense ever since the voters of Alabama in 2010 decided to turn over the statehouse to the Republican party. Not only did they turn it over, they gave them a supermajority which rendered the world of checks and balances moot. With 35 senators and 105 house members, either the Republicans or the Democrats will always have a majority. But a simple majority means that in many cases, the majority party often has to negotiate with the minority party to get legislation passed. However, with a super-majority, it is either my way or the highway.
Right now we have 27 GOP senators and eight Democrats. Since it only takes 18 votes to pass legislation, this is pretty much a slam dunk for the GOP. If the table was reversed and we had 27 Democrats and eight Republicans, it would still be bad for Alabama..
What has happened to public education since 2010?
A-F school report cards that are basically worthless–except to those who want to bash public schools. The Alabama Accountability Act which continues to divert millions from the Education Trust Fund. The charter school law that, as we see in Washington County, makes a mockery of transparency and truthfulness.
None of these have been in the best interest of public schools. Yet, try to get someone to take a stand and push back and nine times out of ten all you get is a shrug. Are another superintendent saying, “Well, you know my board wants me to keep a low profile.”
This was until Washington County and a small group of dedicated educators and parents agreed that they were going to stand firm for what they believe is right for their school system and its students.
Thank God they have.
Because in so doing, they have shown us all that David can go into battle with Goliath. They have set an example. One that says only a handful of tenacious folks can get the attention of a great big bunch of folks. Even The Washington Post.
You do it by keeping on keeping on. By not giving up. By doing your due diligence and hours and hours of homework. They refused to knuckle under when the state charter school commission refused to be forthright and share info that belongs to the public. They have had the backbone and courage to challenge people they know are being disingenuous and trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
They have shown us that you can fight city hall. That just because someone is housed at the state department of education and have fancy titles doesn’t mean they can run over local school systems.
Yes, a handful of good people in Washington County have shown all of Alabama what is possible when you are convicted.
And all of Alabama owes them a standing ovation for doing so.