Alabama Educators React to School Flexibility Bill


By Brittany Bivins

People are across Alabama are still reacting to a sweeping education bill passed Thursday by the Alabama legislature. That bill gives tax credits to parents whose children attend failing schools to choose another public or private school. Alabama News Network spoke with educators to get their reaction to the bill.

Some Alabama educators are still uncertain about whether the bill is a good idea, but almost all of them say the new legislation caught them completely by surprise.

It started as an 8-page bill allowing parents to seek waivers from some state policies, and in a conference committee, became a 27-page bill which opponents say is something else entirely

Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Henry Mabry didn't mince words when talking about the legislation.

"Well, we were absolutely stunned that they would pull such a trick. We haven't seen such dirty tricks like this since Richard Nixon," said Mabry.

He says organizations like AEA were misled about what the bill was meant to do.

"They took a bill that was sold as motherhood and apple pie and they turned it into this 3-headed monster to allow for public school money to be given to private schools and private companies," he said.

But some private schools

, who could benefit financially from the bill, say they don't know enough about it to be sure if it's a good thing for them, either.Independent schools in general, we take pride in streamlining our administrative staff and just based on again, the limited knowledge that I have, the cumbersome burden that this would place on independent schools is a little bit cumbersome at this point," said Melba Richardson, Head of Saint James School in Montgomery.

Governor Bentley has not yet signed the legislation,

but at a press briefing Friday says he plans to do that on Tuesday.


I believe we have to try to make these schools better, if it takes that to get their attention, I'm willing to do it," said Bentley.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice didn't to talk on camera, but issued a statement to legislators

, saying the new version of the bill was not one he had supported.


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