MONTGOMERY – Today, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, sponsored by Representative Chad Fincher (R-Mobile) and Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison).
The bill has full support of Governor Robert Bentley and will be signed early next week.
"Passage of this law provides school systems across the state with the tools they need to implement innovative ideas and escape from the tired, cookie-cutter approach that has plagued education in Alabama for decades. More importantly, it gives administrators and teachers in failing systems the flexibility they need to improve their performance, and it provides students trapped in these systems a lifeline to access the education opportunities they deserve ,” stated Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). “The Legislature served notice today that mediocrity in public education will no longer be tolerated because Alabama's students, parents and teachers deserve better."
“It’s critical that we not only provide innovative flexibility to teachers and administrators, but also to parents and children trapped in failing schools. Too often parents and children get lost in these legislative discussions,” stated Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). “What we’ve done here today unlocks the doors of choice for parents in failing schools. Who better to decide what’s best for children than the ones who raise them?”
The Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 allows schools and school districts the opportunity to enter into flexibility contracts with the purpose of improving education for their students.
Additionally, the bill will provide income tax credits for families with students in a failing school to attend a non-failing school. Individuals or businesses who donate to a nonprofit that provides scholarships for students to attend a non-failing school will also be able to receive tax credits.
"I ran for the Legislature in order to make meaningful, long-lasting improvements in the lives of my fellow Alabamians, and today, we did just that,” said Representative Chad Fincher. “Schoolchildren who woke up this morning with little opportunity and few hopes for success now have a clearly lit path to a quality education and a brighter future. Parents in low performing systems have a helping hand pushing their children toward the American dream. For the first time, school systems have true local control over the decisions they make and the methods they use, and failing schools have the ability to fix the inherent problems that ail them. Alabama's public education system has been literally begging for reform, and it was pulled firmly into the 21st Century today.”
“As a public school parent in this state, I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of this process,” Senator Bill Holtclaw said. “Not only does this bill give local school systems the ability to meet their needs, but it provides students and parents in failing schools with the option to receive a quality education.”
This bill has multiple checks and balances ranging from the local school board all the way to the State School Board and State Superintendent and explicitly ensures that flexibilities detrimental to the rights of teachers cannot be granted.