House Committee Approves Education Options Act

MONTGOMERY – A bill to allow public charter schools and offer existing schools more flexibility from burdensome state laws and regulations is one step closer to becoming law after passing through a House committee Thursday.

The Education Options Act of 2012, House Bill 541 sponsored by Rep. Phil Williams (R-Huntsville), would help educators customize schools for the needs of their students by allowing school systems to:
• develop innovation plans that seek flexibility from burdensome state laws and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for performance, and;
• establish public charter schools in districts with persistently low-performing schools.

Rep. Williams said today’s committee vote was a big step forward for education reform in Alabama.

“Today was a victory for students and parents who have never been given an option of a quality school,” Rep. Williams said. “Public charter schools will bring a new dynamic to Alabama education that can breathe new life into areas that have fallen dreadfully behind. The great thing about this bill is that it offers every school district in Alabama many of the same flexibilities that are given to charter schools. If our administrators take advantage of this proposal, every school in Alabama could benefit from the Education Options Act.”

The House Ways and Means Education Committee deliberated the proposal for more than two weeks, eventually altering the plan to tighten the focus of charter schools to areas with struggling schools and limiting the total number of charter schools to 20 statewide. House Speaker Mike Hubbard said support for the bill was growing among House members.

“The more people learn about the opportunities charter schools can offer the more they support the idea of finally allowing them in Alabama,” Speaker Hubbard said. “Too often our system puts the needs of the education bureaucracy above the needs of students. We saddle schools with burdensome rules and regulations instead of getting out of the way and letting teachers teach.

While we work to improve our overall education system from the ground up, we must also allow parents, educators and community leaders flexibility from one-size-fits-all regulations so they can fix local problems with local solutions.”

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