Under the headline: $30 M should produce dramatic results, not indiscernible difference, the Dothan Eagle has joined the chorus of those questioning the value of the Alabama Accountability Act.
Here’s what they had to say recently:
As Dothan school officials wrangle over strategies to reshape the city school system to make better use of the funds available for education, an interesting report has emerged from the University of Alabama’s Institute for Social Science Research. The Institute performed an evaluation of the Alabama Accountability Act, the 2013 law that established a mechanism to compensate parents of children zoned for “failing” public schools with $3,500 tax credits to help offset the cost of sending those children to private school.
The study evaluated the academic achievement test outcomes of the 2016-2017 recipients of AAA scholarships compared to their counterparts in public school. Not to put too fine a point on it, the study found no discernible improvement in academic performance of the students in private school with AAA scholarships.
With such results, it’s a wonder there’s not a procession of taxpayers descending on the state house with torches. Under the Alabama Accountability Act, the state spends $30 million from the Special Education Trust Fund each year to send a small collection of students to private school because they’re zoned for public schools deemed as “failing.”
It was a dubious plan from the start, but academic test results aren’t the sole determining factor when weighing whether to move a student from a failing school. Still, these findings suggest that the $30 million in taxpayer funds spent on AAA scholarships might be better spent in an effort to improve public schools attended by hundreds of thousands of Alabama schoolchildren.
Alabama lawmakers must revisit this boondoggle at the first opportunity.”
Having lived in Dothan for 10 years, I am very familiar with The Dothan Eagle. This is one of the most conservative newspapers in Alabama and it is significant that they call the money spent on this legislation into question.