No doubt Senator Del Marsh is a very busy guy. Being majority leader of the Alabama senate is not an easy task. You have about a dozen balls in the air at all times.
Of course, Marsh is the champion of the Alabama Accountability Act, the legislation that has diverted more than $100 million from public schools in order to give scholarships to students going to private schools. This legislation also directs the state to declare a “failing” school list each year. (Click here if you want to see how this is working.)
Still, it is disconcerting when Marsh makes a statement about his own public schools in Anniston which is incorrect. I am referring to the following comment Marsh made in a recent interview.
“I’ve had a failing school in Anniston for years and we can’t get the board to make changes to come out of a failing status,” he advised.
Actually Anniston has had both Anniston High and Anniston Middle schools on the failing list in the past. BUT not this year. And one wonders why the good senator is not CELEBRATING this fact, rather than misstating it.
One thing is for certain, these schools did not avoid the list this time around because of help they got from the accountability act. One of the real short comings of AAA is that while it labels schools as “failing,” it does not offer them a hand up.
One also has to wonder if Marsh is so busy being majority leader that perhaps he is not paying enough attention to the home folks. This may well be why he struggled in the Republican primary last June to defeat a vastly outspent challenger by less than 1,000 votes. Marsh spent $458,679 while Wayne Willis spent $12,8792. That is a $35.57 to $1 advantage.
Marsh has served 20 years in the state senate. At some point it is only natural that you are not as visible in your district as you once were. That instead of meeting with the volunteer fire departments you are in Montgomery instead.
It appears that pressure against the accountability act is mounting as evidenced by the fact that the four largest schools systems in the state (Mobile, Baldwin, Jefferson and Montgomery) have all passed resolutions calling for a repeal of AAA.
Still Marsh is dug in regarding his support of AAA. As he said in this article:
“The Accountability Act – as far as I’m concerned, I will fight to the end to protect the Accountability Act. In fact, I’ll do all I can to increase it to make sure it maintains its status in the state to provide that choice for those kids and those parents,” Marsh concluded.”
It is no secret that Marsh, along with several others, is looking at running for the U.S. Senate seat in 2020 now held by Doug Jones. There are presently only 3,668 students on AAA scholarships. However, the seven school systems that have passed repeal resolutions represent 155,000 public school students.
Plus, 76 percent of respondents to our recent survey about AAA said it should be repelled, while 17 percent said it should be modified.
It might be smart for Marsh to consider these numbers at the same time he is trying to figure out what is going on with Anniston’s schools.