Something I’ve thought about long and hard is what will it take to get to the “tipping point” concerning public education in Alabama. You know, a moment like when Howard Beale in the movie Network screams at the top of his lungs, “I’m mad as Hell and I ain’t gonna take it any more.”
Are we there?
Consider what has been forced down the throat of educators since 2013.
The Alabama Accountability Act that was crafted in secret so that education professionals knew nothing about it. A bill that was more about corporate tax breaks than helping students and schools. A bill that was sold under the false premise of being “all about helping poor kids stuck in failing schools by their zip codes.”
A bill we came back to in the last regular session to redefine its intent. A bill that will now divert up to $30 million annually from the Education Trust Fund. A bill that now says a student in a private school is worth up to $10,000 a year while we give a public school just over half that amount to educate a student. A bill that sent $4 million in 2014 to students already attending private schools. A bill that may helps less than one percent of all our 733,000 students in the state.
A charter school bill that says teachers don’t have to be certified to be in a classroom. A bill that creates more education bureaucracy and sets up a politically-appointed commission with the power to over ride local school boards. A bill that will absolutely hurt local public school systems financially if they have a charter school. You don’t divide a pie into more pieces without each piece becoming smaller.
The governor’s recent appointment of someone to be one of eight State Board of Education members whose only qualification is some folks saying, “He’s a nice guy.” His supporters never mention his demonstrated commitment to public schools because he has none. His supporters never mention that he headed an effort to defeat a tax vote in Baldwin County last March and that the effort he spearheaded constantly spread misinformation and ridiculed the county school board.
It would have made about as much sense for the governor to tell the University of Alabama mascot “Big Al” to replace the Auburn mascot “Aubie” for the upcoming football season.
Now we are on the brink of approving legislation in the current special session to take upwards of $250 million from the Education Trust Fund to prop up the General Fund for the simple reason that leadership has refused to face up to a pending train wreck in the General Fund budget.
The general fund committee voted 8-6 this afternoon to move this hit on ETF to the full Senate. A full blown firestorm erupted as educators and concerned citizens reacted.
Which brings us to this moment and this question, are the supporters of public education in Alabama ready to take back our schools? Are we sick and tired of the legislature passing bills sent to them by some lobbying group in Washington? Are we tired of lobbyists representing a group in California telling our House and Senate members how to vote? Are we tired of millionaires in Arkansas, Michigan and California spending money to tell us who to elect to the legislature?
A constant compliant about this group of legislators in Montgomery now is that they will not listen–at least not to those groups who work so hard at getting through to them on behalf of our 733,000 public school students.
But I think I do know who they will listen to. MOTHERS. Mamas are not happy when you mess with the babies. And rightly so. When they think you are taking money that should be helping their child get a better education and sending it somewhere else, they are not pleased at all.
Because of this, I believe if we could find just one mother for each school in Alabama, give them good and well-researched information and ask them to sit down with their legislator, the one they vote for, we would get some attention.
I am ready to do all I can. I will write a check, do research, pound away on my keyboard, whatever.
If you are willing to stand up and be counted, whether you are a mother of children now in school or not, let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org