Alabama Teachers Union: We Want More Money, Fewer Charters

The Alabama Education Association (AEA) has announced that in the next legislative session it will push for more funding for the classroom and a fight against attempts to bring charter schools to the state.

AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry has declared the state teachers' union will push to have the cuts that were made to teachers' salaries last year reversed and to seek expansions in career tech programs, writes Brian Lyman at the Montgomery Advertiser.

Mabry said:

"We need to identify students heading down the wrong track and say to them, ‘You need to look at a program to learn a trade or a profession where you'll be a profitable member of society."

As the Republican majority looks to push for charter school legislation – with a bill that would authorize 50 charter schools around the state – Mabry and Alabama Democrats have argued that charter schools will divert money from already underfunded schools.

Proponents say that, under a commission created to hear appeals on charter school denials, the proposal will add innovation to failing school systems.

However, Mabry has called for greater funding of state educational programs that encourage math and science education in state schools – citing the work of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).

Mabry said:

"We need to have improvements in education, but what we need to do is use programs that actually work, which is why we need programs like AMSTI."

Todd Stacy, a spokesman for House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn said that AEA "has opposed funding every significant education reform program in the last decade."

Stacy said:

"We know children in some areas can benefit from having a quality alternative to a failing school, and charter schools can provide that.

"Many school systems in Alabama probably aren't candidates for charter schools, but that can't be the reason we keep other districts from utilizing a reform that will make a real difference."

The AEA has also called for a $25 million investment that would bring failing schools up to where they need to be. An alternative to the idea that charter schools would give students an alternative to failing schools.

Mabry also wants to suspend a rolling reserve act which puts a cap on the spending increases in the Education Trust Fund, limiting it to a percentage based on average growth of the fund over 15 years.

Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, chairman of the House Ways and Means Education committee, believes that, had the law have been implemented when the ETF showed consistent growth then it might have been easier to take.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to do that, and in a sense we're taking our medicine now for the irresponsible budgeting and irresponsible spending of previous Legislatures," he said.

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