More About That Alabama Charter Law

Earlier I posted Larry Lee’s post about the overwhelming defeat of a charter bill in Alabama.

I asked him for more details on charters in the state because I knew that Alabama already passed a charter law. Why was this bill defeated?

This was the response I received:

“What did the bill propose?

“The bill proposed several changes to the original law passed in 2015 – a law that was touted as one of the best charter school laws in the nation.

“It greatly diminished local school board control. In Alabama’s existing charter law, while the State Charter School Commission can overturn a local board’s decision, they do have to give deference to the board’s position. The amended language would have allowed the commission to reweigh the application with no deference to the school board’s original decision and would have given the Commission a very broad definition to use when overruling a local school board.

“The bill also made some timeline changes in the application process and created a staff for the State Charter School Commission.

“Why was it voted down?

“It was voted down because most legislators believe that their community school boards know what their community schools need and believe that decision should be a local board decision, not a state commission decision. They understood that a state commission could never understand the nuances, needs, and priorities of individual communities better than the communities themselves.

“How many charters does Alabama have now?

“Alabama does not have any charter schools currently open in the state. However, a charter school is set to open for the 2017-18 school year in Mobile, Alabama. This charter school was fully vetted by local community stakeholders and was eventually approved by the Mobile County Board of Education with the cooperation of the Mobile County Education Association, a local affiliate of the Alabama Education Association.

“Two charter school companies applied to open charter schools in Birmingham, both applications were unanimously denied by the Birmingham Board of Education. The charter companies appealed the decision to the State Charter School Commission and on Tuesday the Commission overturned one of the denials. Birmingham is now set to have a charter school open in the 2018-19 school year. That will give Alabama two charter schools by 2018.

“What did Collins want to change?

Rep. Collins said she brought the bill to clarify language, tweak the timeline, and create a much-needed staff for the Commission. She denied that it diminished the control of local school boards. An independent group, the Alabama Law Institute, was contacted by a republican legislator for an interpretation of the language that was in question. The bill further diminished local control by adding yet another layer for the State Charter School Commission to overturn local board decisions.”

from novemoore


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