Charter school legislation dies in Senate

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's the other debate that's polarizing lawmakers.

The fight for charter schools--backed by Governor Bob Riley--is dead, at least for now.  A state senate committee killed their version of the bill a week after the house did the same.

"It's just not the way we ought to be operating," said Alabama Education Association's Dr. Paul Hubbert.  Hubbert led the opposition to the bill, reminding lawmakers of the down economy.

"It made no sense to create a second system, in effect a system within a system, and end up funding two school systems rather than one," he said.

State education officials, on the other hand, were hopeful the measure would at least make it to a vote.

"All this [bill] does is just allows for 'another public school to be formed,' and the state and federal monies follow the child," explained state superintendent Dr. Joe Morton.

Supporters say it all comes down to funding.  States compete using a points system. Without charter schools, Alabama is already at a disadvantage.

"So, we're starting out 8 percent behind 39 states," Morton said.

Still, opponents want to stay the course until the state sees a better financial future

"At that time, charter schools may be something to look at.  But it's not the time now, when we're struggling to keep the doors of the existing schools open," Hubbert said.

For now, the bill is dead in the water, but legislators say the measure will no doubt surface next session.

There's also the possibility that another version of the bill could be introduced this year.

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