New Alabama School Accountability law needs 'failing schools' li - WRBL

New Alabama School Accountability law needs 'failing schools' list

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A new law is supposed to support accountability in Alabama schools.  Governor Robert Bentley signed House Bill 84 last week, after the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed a restraining order that blocked the bill from making it to his desk.  

The law is in effect, but not much can be done for students until the language of the law is clarified.  A major part of the Accountability Act or the school flexibility bill relies on determining which schools are failing.  But right now the state superintendent says there is no list of failing schools, and no word on when a list will be complete.

In the meantime, local school administrators are waiting for direction.  "Right now we don't know what failing is.  We have not received any criteria to tell us what failing is.  Some of our schools have been in school improvement before but to say that we have any failing schools.  We don't know what the criteria is at this time," said Russell County Schools Superintendent Mike Green.
Neither do other schools throughout the state.  The School Flexibility Bill gives parents a tax credit or voucher to move their children from a "failing" public school to a different public school, or a private school.  
Governor Bentley says the goal of the bill is not to support private schools, but to improve failing schools.  The Alabama Education Association temporarily  blocked that signing.
The AEA says those credits would take money away from under-performing schools.
Russell County Schools Superintendent Mike Green says with the loss of No Child Left Behind, and AYP. He feels there was a rush to put a new standard in place and more time would have allowed clearer vision and better execution.  
 "It should had a little more thought to it maybe.  It was really in a hurry but accountability is something that we all have to face."
Green says, so far no parents have requested vouchers or information about the new law.  He says they can call his office for assistance.

"Right now we're just waiting on the state to give us some clear guidance on what we do and how to handle this and what to tell parents because after four days we have not heard anything." 

Auburn City Schools superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano, says they too awaiting direction.  DeLano says she is pleased with the flexibility portion of the act.   However, one concern is the loss of revenue to the education trust fund.

The Alabama Schools Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Bice, declined to comment about the law Tuesday.  A spokesperson told News 3 the Alabama State Department of Education is reviewing the bill.

Brandice Hudson

Brandice Hudson is a weekend anchor and digital journalist for WRBL News 3. She comes to Columbus from sunny West Palm Beach, Fla. More>>

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