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Stop SB 45 "Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act"

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We, the people of Alabama, are united in our demands that all members of the Alabama State Legislature refuse to approve SB 45/HB 192 and focus, instead, on creating equity in our already existing public education system. Public charters will lead to further segregation, will increase inequalities, and will aid in the privatization of our public schools. Privatization will siphon much needed funds away from traditional public schools to the benefit of corporate entities, not the students that these reforms were supposedly intended to benefit. These charters will leave the vast majority of already marginalized high poverty students to languish with no real education reform to help them achieve their fullest potential. We must also note that that only 17 percent of charter schools provide a better education than traditional schools, and that 37 percent actually offered children a worse education. 

Setting aside our general concerns stated above about charters and privatization, here are our concerns that deal directly with Alabama's Senate Bill SB 45/HB 192: 

1. A public charter's contract will be for five years despite studies showing that for the majority of charter schools a poor first year performance will give way to poor second year performance, etc., yet these schools will be given countless opportunities to 'try again'. SB 45 states: Every authorizer shall have the authority to conduct or require oversight activities that enable the authorizer to fulfill its responsibilities under this act, including conducting appropriate inquiries and investigations, so long as those activities are consistent with the intent of this act, adhere to the terms of the charter contract, and do not unduly prohibit the autonomy granted to public charter schools." (Emphasis added) SB 45 then states: In the event that a public charter school's performance or legal compliance appears unsatisfactory, the authorizer shall promptly notify the public charter school of the perceived problem and provide reasonable opportunity for the school to remedy the problem" We find this is inadequate and entirely too vague. 

2. The decision of a local system to convert a public school to a charter cannot be appealed to the commission BUT if a local system denies a startup charter application the applicant can appeal to the commission and a public hearing will be held. Meaning the public has no input in a charter take over of their school but a charter company has input if their application is denied.  Parents, students and stakeholders have a right to protect their schools from unwanted charter takeovers.

3. There is no cap on the number of converted schools but there is a cap on start up charters (10 per year). We believe this will cause constant concern from the community over the possibility of a takeover of their neighborhood school which will lead to instability for the students and the community.  This  is NOT conducive to learning and building strong communities. 

4. Personnel reductions can be contemplated as the result of a conversion to a charter model which can lead to the local school board implementing a reduction in force. This will cause a stressful work environment for our educators and instability for the students, which is not conducive to teaching and learning.

5. Teachers in public charter schools will be exempt from state teacher certification requirements which will lead to lesser qualified educators in the charter school classrooms.

6. The fact that students will only be able to participate in organized sports programs if the public charter school they attend offers the programs will lead to students being denied the chance of sports scholarships and will deny them the physical and social benefits of participating in organized sports. 

7. The fact that our public charters will not have to provide transportation like our traditional public schools will leave many students at a disadvantage. 


8. The lease of an existing traditional public school building to a public charter entity will lead to public charter schools and traditional public schools co-locating, which has been proven to be problematic and harmful to the educational experiences of the traditional public school students. 

For all of these reasons we, again, are asking that the Alabama State Senate STOP SB 45.  Charter Schools are not the answer to Alabama's education problems. Let us work together for real, positive, sustainable education reform for ALL of Alabama's students.

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We urge everyone to GET INVOLVED!  Follow this link to a FB invite that will keep you updated on all actions concerning this bill and all events that are taking place to fight it! Please use #NOonALSB45 as the hashtag on all social media posts you make! https://www.facebook.com/events/1523635531194662

Contact your Senators AND Representatives NOW! You can search for the ones in your district here: 

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/FindLegislator.aspx

Leave a message with the secretary if the legislator is unavailable.  They do keep track of the calls.  Be sure and email too!

Also, please contact each member of the Education Committee TODAY. Time is of the essence! Here is their contact information: 


Chair Terri Collins 334-242-7693 terri@terricollins.org
Co-Chair Rich Kerry 334-242-7538 kerryrich@mclo.org
Barry Moore 334-242-7773 barry@barrymooreindustries.com
Mack Butler 334-242-7446 mack.butler@alhouse.gov
Chris Pringle 334-242-7600 chrispringle@southerntimberlands.com
Ed Henry 334-242-7736 ed.henry@alhouse.gov
Phil Williams 334-242-7704 philhouse44@gmail.com
Patricia Todd (D) 334-242-7718 reptodd@gmail.com
Oliver Robinson (D) 334-242-7769 oliver.robinson@alhouse.gov
Barbara Drummond (D) 334-242-7600 drummondbarbara@att.net
Bob Fincher 334-242-7600 rsfincher77@gmail.com
Jim Patterson 334-242-7531 jimpattersonhd21@gmail.com
Rod Scott (D) 334-242-7752 rodhscott@gmail.com

Here is a link to the latest version of the bill: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2015RS/PrintFiles/165119-2.pdf ;

 



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