MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP/WSFA) - Alabama is not a finalist for "Race to the Top" education grants from the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Education named 16 finalists Thursday in the competition for $4.35 billion in school reform grants.
Alabama was one of 41 applicants in the first round and the winners will be chosen in April. A second round of applications will be accepted in June.
Gov. Bob Riley said he was disappointed but not surprised by the news, which means Alabama won't have a chance to get $181 million.
He had been urging legislators to pass a bill to allow charter schools. That would have given Alabama a better chance in the competition, which gave states higher marks for innovation.
The Republican Party immediately blamed the Alabama Education Association (AEA) and Democrats in the state House and Senate for the defeat of charter school legislation.
"It is a crying shame that Democrats would tow the line for the unions and special interest groups to the detriment of the children of Alabama," said Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. "Sadly, the legislators voting against charter schools decided that remaining in good standing with special interest groups was more important than giving parents an additional choice in their child's education."
When the charter school legislation was defeated in February, AEA's Dr. Paul Hubbert told WSFA 12 News, "It's just not the way we ought to be operating. 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."
Alabama is one of only 11 states that does not allow charter schools.