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This has been one of the most trying weeks I can remember in quite a while. I have felt like I was unattached to the world and just couldn’t find my footing.
I’m still struggling this week, too. I have been forced to recognize my addiction to the news – and I mean INSTANT news. I gave up my addiction to cigarettes more than 20 years ago, and I was able to stop cold turkey with the help of chewing gum and then gummy bears that I eventually worked my way off, also. But this news thing is more difficult because I can’t find the substitutes to warm up to. I miss Fox News, but I refuse to go back.
One thing that has helped fill this void is getting back into state politics – mainly with the School Choice issue. I spent last Wednesday in Montgomery attending the Senate Education Policy Committee meeting. More on this later.
My main feeling on this topic is that education was NEVER a part of the Constitution of the United States, was NEVER meant to be a federal agency and WAS intended to be operated at the source closest to the families.
My opinion is education should be operated at the local (county or city) level with possibly some oversight by the state. Parents should be able to decide what type of education their child receives based on how that child learns best. Children were NEVER meant to be COMMON – they are individuals with individual ways of learning.
Leading up to the start of this year’s legislative session there was a lot of talk about this being THE year FOR School Choice bills. While polling shows that more than 70% of people are in favor of school choice that does not mean that 70% of the students will be leaving the public school system! In fact, it is estimated that only about 2% of students will probably change schools.
What WILL happen is that parents can decide what is best for their child by having money available to make those decisions without paying TWICE for their child’s education. Right now, they pay taxes (property, ad valorem, sales, and others) that are EARMARKED to the Education Trust Fund, but they also pay out of pocket if they want their child to be educated at home, in a church school, or other private school.
This is ALL voluntary. Not all private, church and homeschool programs will register to participate. Not all parents will register to participate. But why should ALL parents be required to send their children to public schools if they can’t afford it? Back in my day, public schools were FREE to parents – textbooks, copy paper, toilet paper, paper towels, and other supplies were provided by the school system, not by the parents. There were some kids who were still sent to private schools, but they were the WEALTHY kids. PRICE Act would open this choice for kids from lower income families who just want their child to have a different educational experience from that provided by government schools.
As a taxpayer who is required to pay into the Education Trust Fund, I resent having my tax dollars being wasted the way they are. Even with the highest Education Trust Fund budget EVER we are now at the bottom of tests scores in the nation – BEHIND MISSISSIPPI! The money does not get to the classroom, but is spent on all the government regulations now in place that are required to be met.
I think COVID-19 opened the eyes of many parents to what is actually going on in public schools.
The outcome of last week’s committee meeting was very disappointing and shows the behind-the-scenes shenanigans played by our legislators. The PRICE Act was sponsored by Sen. Larry Stutts and other Republicans, and they had requested the bill be initially heard by the Education Budget Committee to review the financial impact (if any); the bill was sent to the Education POLICY Committee to be heard.
After many people from out of town who support the Act traveled to Montgomery to speak in favor of it – some with Heritage Foundation and other national organizations – the Committee chairman sided with the speakers representing the Alabama Department of Education and associations supporting school superintendents and educators. But the way he did it was amazingly transparent.
He sent it to the Education Budget Committee where Sen. Stutts originally wanted it to start for their opinions! It was obviously a stalling tactic to kill the bill because the session is half over and time will run out for the PRICE Act to make it to the floor of the legislature for a vote.
In other words, the legislature may never get an opportunity to vote to either approve OR disapprove of giving parents their right to determine their children’s educational opportunities without having to pay DOUBLE. Only the high paid lobbyists and associations are listened to – NOT the citizens/voters.
I’ll report on that Education Budget Committee hearing next week. Until then, contact your state senators and representatives! And keep your eyes on the border for even more illegal immigrants coming in who will further overload our educational systems.