In reading about Alabama’s move towards public charter schools, I’ve come across the same paradigm I see in many other places.
Even Duncan E. Kirkwood, the Alabama state director for BAEO, is surprised by his allies in the legislature. “You would think that the Democrats, the black legislators, would be the ones to lead the charge on this social justice movement for poor people, for black people,” he said. “Our graduation rate for black boys in Alabama is 54 percent.”
Graduation rate for black boys in Alabama is at 54%!?! And Democrats, of all people are opposing strategies that could help these students?
So far, he said, a handful of black Democrats expressed tentative willingness to support a charter bill, compared to dozens of GOP lawmakers who are fully on board.
Mr. Kirkwood said the pro-charter coalition has been in overdrive to convince state residents that charter schools could help improve the grim graduation rates for African-American students, and help empower parents to make schooling choices for their children. They’ve been lobbying legislators, holding town hall meetings, and taking parents and community leaders to visit charters in Georgia and Tennessee.
The group is hoping to outflank the organizing prowess of the statewide teachers’ union, which has helped block previous efforts to pass charter legislation.
Ahh, so “Democrats” strictly speaking aren’t the opposition, its the teachers union. Of course, what else would I expect? But what you have to understand is that education for kids in Alabama doesn’t appear to be good, or doing any better? How can the teachers union in AL stand back and fight reform that can actually help students? This is what I mean when I say unions stand for the status quo. What have the unions been doing to improve education in AL? Because whatever it is, it hasn’t been enough. Standing in the way of reform that can help, is supporting the status quo.
The Alabama Educators Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, doesn’t have collective-bargaining rights, but wields considerable political influence. The AEA has opposed previous charter bills—among other things, it spent millions in the state primary to unseat Republican lawmakers—especially in the face of reductions to the state’s budget for K-12 schools in recent years.”We find it hard to expect children to excel at the same rate of other states when you continue to chip away at the funding source,” said Gregory T. Graves, the AEA’s associate executive secretary. “Charter schools have been shown to resegregate, discriminate, and they have been shown to put financial restraints on the existing public schools.”
And the union doesn’t even have collective bargaining power! Yet they spend their time and money to unseat Republicans (by the way how is that going?) who are chipping away at the school budget. Well, it is hard to advocate for more education funding when you have such sub par results from your students. We’re not against more money, we just need to see results worthy of spending the money needed. I don’t know why this is such a hard concept for unions to understand.