MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Senate today passed significant education reform legislation known as the Education Options Act of 2012.
The proposal, Senate Bill 513 sponsored by Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Pike Road), includes three major components aimed at turning around underperforming schools across the state:
- Allows for innovative flexibility options where school systems may enter into a school flexibility contract with the State Department of Education that allows for flexibility from state laws, including State Board rules, regulations and policies, in exchange for exceptional levels of results-driven accountability;
- Authorizes the establishment of a limited number of public charter schools in priority local school systems; and
- Gives the state school superintendent the duty to intervene in order to improve “persistently low-performing schools” if local officials fail to act.
Senator Brewbaker cited 58 schools across the state that have been identified as “persistently low-performing,” meaning the schools have ranked in the bottom five percent of schools on science, reading and math standardized test scores for the past three years.
Continual underperformance is no longer an option under this proposal, Brewbaker said.
“In America, we don’t tell you where to go to church of what to do for a living, but we do tell you where you have to send your kids to school. It’s about time we ensure each and every child across the state has access to a quality education,” Senator Brewbaker said. “By giving education officials the tools and flexibility to best meet the needs of our local schools, we are sending a clear message that failure in our schools is no longer an option.”
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said giving education leaders innovative options to better manage schools is a positive step toward improving the quality of education in Alabama.
“Alabama’s children are the building blocks of our future and we ought to give them every opportunity to succeed,” Senator Marsh said. “That starts with a quality education. While there is no silver bullet to cure all education problems, giving education leaders the flexibility and resources to improve underperforming schools is a great step in the right direction.”
The legislation now goes to the House for consideration.