John Archibald, who writes for AL.com, may well be the most widely read columnist in Alabama. If not, he is very near the top of the heap.
Never one for beating around the bush, Archibald will call an ugly baby “ugly.”
And in this column he sets his sights squarely on the infamous Alabama Accountability Act.
Among his highlights:
“Think of the moments that changed Alabama politics.
That night in the spring of 2013 when Republicans in the Alabama Legislature’s supermajority realized they had the power and will and audacity to do whatever they wanted to do.
They took an eight-page bill on “school flexibility” into conference committee – a six-member body that was supposed to work out differences between versions of the bills passed in the House and Senate – and came out with a 27-page beast called the Alabama Accountability Act.
It wasn’t school flexibility. It was a scheme to take money from public schools and use it to pay for children zoned for failing schools to go to private schools instead.
To heck with the rules. To heck with traditions and protocol.
The masterminds came right out and admitted it. They did it because they could. Stooping to never-seen-before tactics was the only way to win.
“I have no apologies (for) keeping them in the dark,” Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh said at the time. Them meaning … everybody.
It has been four and a half years since the Alabama Accountability Act went into effect. It was challenged but the Alabama Supreme Court decided the Legislature can do what it wants because the Legislature makes its own rules.
Since that time, students have been incentivized to leave troubled public schools, and every student departing leaves that school with less tax money to invest in improvement.
In that time, close to $90 million of completely deductible donations have gone to scholarship programs for students moving from public to private schools, and to many who were already there.
And in the name of “accountability,” many of those students who do leave, subsidized by the state, go to schools with no accountability at all.
It is time – it is past time – to reassess this … program.”
We need many other voices joining with Archibald’s on the need to take a long, hard look at the Alabama Accountability Act.