House Bill 84, better known as the school flexibility act, is stirring up emotion among education leaders.
“It’s the wrong move for Alabama. The school boards don’t like it. The AEA doesn’t like it. The superintendents don’t like it. Your key education leaders in the state don’t like it,” said Dothan School Superintendent Tim Wilder.
The bill would create two voucher systems: one provides parents a tax credit if they remove their child from a “failing” public school. The other would give businesses and individuals a tax credit for contributions to a college fund.
Governor Robert Bentley had planned to sign the bill into law Tuesday, but that was put on hold. A lawsuit was filed by the Alabama Education Association.
“I think people need to realize this really only effect less than 10 percent of the students and parents in Alabama. If you do not live in a failing district you cannot take advantage of the tax credits,” said Bentley.
Some Dothan schools have already made the first list of failing schools, but leaders don’t think they’ll be there long.
“Dothan High and Northview were on the first list. They both met AYP. There’s no way our failing schools met AYP. We think we won’t have any schools on the list,” said Wilder.
He says it’s not clear what defines a failing school.
“They talk about schools that have 3 D’s and an F. We don’t grade schools yet. We are in 2015, but we don’t do it now. So you have to remove that from the bill,” said Wilder. “We’re playing a game right now with this voucher bill, and we don’t know what a failing school really is and neither does the state at this point. It’s hard to play by the rules when you don’t know what they are.”
But he may have to. A judge is set to rule Wednesday on whether Bentley can sign the bill into law.