For starters, let’s look at the school-reform plan’s conception. After several weeks of secret meetings, Republicans in the state Senate and House passed the bill, known as HB84. No hearings where experts weighed in on the negatives and positives of the proposed policy. No hint of what was coming in public pronouncements from the governor or legislative leaders. No rallying of various interest groups that might support the bill.
Instead, Statehouse Republicans took advantage of the perks of their supermajority and passed a major bill without consulting anyone else.
What will the tax-credit plan for parents with children in “failing” public schools cost? No one — not even the bill’s authors — can say with certainty.
What exactly qualifies as a “failing” school? The definitions vary.
Will non-failing schools be forced to accept students transferring from failing schools? It’s not crystal clear.
The mysteries continue.
Two weeks after Bentley signed the bill, 14 months until the 2014 primary elections and 20 months until the general election, an outfit called the Foundation for Accountability in Education is promoting the law and the lawmakers who voted for it. As The Star’s Tim Lockette discovered last week, the foundation spent at least $18,000 last month on broadcast ads that ballyhoo the Alabama Accountability Act.
Color us puzzled.
Ads such as the ones aired by the Foundation for Accountability in Education — as well as the Alabama Education Association’s ads produced in opposition — are typically heard very close to election time, not when it’s more than a year away.
Even more mysterious is the source of the Foundation for Accountability in Education’s funding. State Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is one of the foundation’s three directors. Pretty much everything else is a mystery. No one involved with the foundation will discuss who’s giving dollars. The Foundation for Accountability in Education was created as a 501(c)(4), meaning, as one source told us, “They don’t have to tell you anything” regarding the sources of funding.
There’s nothing illegal in any of this, but it sure seems like Alabama residents deserve better from a foundation with “accountability” in its name that was created to promote a law with “accountability” in its name.