Gov., legislature want education reforms

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC/WSFA) - Governor Robert Bentley and the Republican Party leadership in the state legislature want to make some big changes to the state's education system this year  The changes includes charter schools and a new tax credit for teachers.

The Governor wants to update the methods used to evaluate teachers and start a limited number of charter schools in systems that are underperforming.  The plans were unveiled at a news conference at an elementary school in Birmingham.

Republicans want to give local school boards more flexibility to change their policies, and give teachers a $300 tax credit for buying their own classroom supplies.  Bentley said he'd like to see the state experiment with single-sex charter schools, career tech schools, and even a charter school with an emphasis on students with special needs. The governor says he knows charter schools are controversial, but it's time to try something different to help students who are struggling.

"I like to think outside the box, and we need to be doing that more," Gov. Bentley said. "And we need to be doing that more, I think, and that's what we're doing here. Flexibility is a good thing."

Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Henry Mabry told the Associated Press that Alabama shouldn't be diverting limited education revenue to an experimental program.  He said some charter schools have outperformed public schools, but many more have not.  He did say the AEA could get behind the teacher tax credit.  The proposals will be introduced during the legislative session, which begins next month.

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