We have watched as Alabama’s education system has ranked far below acceptable standards. It is time for that to change. It is time for Alabama’s teachers, parents and students to have the kind of top-quality educational system they deserve.
When Republicans took majority control in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature, we promised there would be positive changes in many areas, including education. Republicans have kept that promise and are working hard to provide parents and teachers with options that will allow students forced into consistently underperforming schools to have access to educational alternatives with the introduction of the Education Options Act.
Unfortunately, there are many mistruths about this legislation and the public charter schools they would establish. These mistruths are perpetuated by unions like the Alabama Education Association, which seem determined to oppose any education reform proposal in favor of a struggling status quo. It seems that paid staffers of the AEA in Montgomery would rather do what we have always done rather than give parents and teachers the tools they need to assist students in underperforming school systems.
Alabama’s legislation would allow public charter schools to be established in systems that consistently rank in the lowest 5 percent of Alabama schools. This legislation would allow a new kind of public school to be established:
• A school that would return control to the local level.
• A school that would empower teachers with the flexibility to “think outside of the box” and be innovative in their classrooms.
• A school that would foster parental involvement in the education of their children.
Most of all, public charter schools give parents in poor-performing school districts a choice about where and how their children should be educated. This is a choice that is now only reserved for parents who can afford to send their children to private schools.
The Education Options Act gives parents a public school alternative to trapping their children in schools that don’t meet their educational standards. As Republicans, we believe all Alabamians deserve that choice, not just parents with the means to pay private school tuition.
This legislation also equips teachers with the flexibility they need to address the needs of their individual classrooms in new and creative ways. Alabama is blessed to have great teachers, and we believe they should be allowed to teach in a way that addresses the needs of the individual students in their classrooms rather than be forced to adapt to a “one-size-fits-all” teaching method.
I encourage Alabama’s taxpayers to research the Education Options Act and call their local legislators to tell them Alabama’s teachers and Alabama’s students deserve better — they deserve options.
Bill Armistead, a former state senator from Columbiana, is the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.