Education Issues Likely to Take Center Stage This Spring

Next week, Alabama legislators will reconvene in Montgomery and begin the 2012 legislative session. Already, it looks like education will receive a great deal of attention. Priorities include allowing for public charter schools and allowing more flexibility for traditional schools through the School Flexibility Act, as well as other issues.

Charter Schools

The biggest issue in education this year is likely to be whether or not Alabama should allow the creation of public charter schools. Republican lawmakers have made the passage of a public charter school law a top priority. They have said they plan to introduce legislation that will allow a capped number of public charter schools to be created to serve underserved communities.

A+ supports the adoption of public charter schools as a tool to help improve Alabama’s public education system. Although charter schools are not for everyone, a well-crafted charter school law could improve the array of education opportunities available to Alabama students, especially in low-performing districts. Click here to view an A+ PowerPoint presentation outlining the basics of public charter schools.

Flexibility for Traditional Schools

Many people, upon hearing about the flexibility public charter schools are granted, ask why traditional public schools cannot have the same amount of autonomy. It is possible, and the Legislature will also vote on the School Flexibility Act, which could allow districts to apply for waivers from certain laws and regulations.

The Education Budget

Governor Bentley’s plan to merge the state education fund with the state’s general fund has already received a lot of resistance this year. The governor’s plan did not have enough support in the Legislature – or enough support from the general public – to amend the state constitution and merge the funds. This led him to back off the plan, and he will not pursue it this year.