Capitol Report for May 6, 2013Published 6:00am Wednesday, May 8, 2013
By: Sen. Roger Bedford
I am pleased to announce that on April 26 several highway project bids opened in our Senate District. In Colbert County we will soon see the resurfacing and traffic striping of State Road 2, also known as US-72, from the Mississippi State line to County Road 1, which is the Riverton Rose Trail Road. That is a beautiful part of our Senate District. I hope that you have an opportunity to visit that area.
In Franklin County we will see the resurfacing and traffic striping of State Road 13 from Sand Pitt Road to the intersection at State Road 17, U.S-43, also known as Andrew Jackson Highway.
All of these projects are needed and will help us provide safer transportation through out our area.
It will also create jobs and generate sales tax dollars within our Senate District, which will help our schools systems as well.
You may rest assured that I will continue to work to see that all parts of our Senate District receive their fair share of allocated State tax dollars.
These are dollars that we have paid in and we need to work hard to make sure that we get them back to our Senate District.
The Education Trust Fund, Private School Voucher Act continues to be a very important issue in Alabama Legislation.
With the proposed act the Education Trust Fund monies, which are dedicated to public schools with be diverted to pay for private school vouchers and scholarships. There is an estimated $50 million to $367 million range for these programs. This will directly affect the funding of every public school in the state of Alabama.
The Voucher Program will allow children that are currently enrolled in a private school to receive up to $3,500, per child, for private school tuition.
This is the type of legislation that should have been debated, read and talked about in school board meetings, as well as town hall meetings. In short, the Republicans decided rather than to fix public education they would try to tear it apart and allow public dollars to pay for private, for profit, corporate schools.
Yes, that’s right, under this bill a child could enroll in a private school and your tax dollars would pay for it.
Regardless of income, parents of children zoned for a “failing” school can receive up to $3,500 per child for private school tuition or to transfer to another non-failing public school outside their school district.
Just one of the problems with the bill is that the new school does not have to accept the child if they don’t want to.
One can only imagine what type of recruiting opportunities this will be for high schools when it comes to high school sports from football to baseball and all sports in between for both men and women.
In other words, a child wanting to leave a school deemed failing, because of its low academic standing, might not get to leave that “failing school” because the new school could decide to take the quarterback but refuse the student with a straight-A average.
This law would also enable a $25 million dollar Private School Scholarship Program, which will be paid for with public school money.
Parents will be able to form a scholarship organization and give their own children scholarships. This is a direct misuse and abuse of public school funds.
Teachers and support professionals in flex schools and “failing schools” are not protected from changes in benefits and working conditions like sick leave, on-the-job injury and planning periods.
Only teachers and support professionals in non-failing schools and non-flex schools are guaranteed tenure protections and on-the-job benefits.
It was a bill that 105 House members and 35 Senators worked on, along with countless others concerned about education such as teachers, school board members and superintendents of education across the state.
Dr. Bice at the State Board of Education was involved in the eight-page bill which was sent to a conference committee.
This eight-page bill, which had been debated, viewed, read and agreed upon emerged from a conference committee as a completely different animal.
The eight-page bill grew to a 28-page bill crafted in secret by two Republican Senators and two Republican House Members with no input from educators.
The bill was rammed through by the Republican Supermajority without any debate. In fact, no one had even seen the bill until after the Republican’s voted to allow no amendments and no debate on the bill.
As I’ve said before, this is the type of legislation that should be debated, read, talked about in school board meetings as well as town hall meetings.
I believe we should support our schools and fix the ones that are having problems rather than putting school vouchers in place like the Republicans have done.
Let me thank all of you for the many cards, letters, phone calls and e-mails I’ve gotten regarding your views on the issues facing us here in Alabama.
Please continue to contact me at the following address:
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State House
11 S. Union Street, Suite 738
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Phone 334-242-7862, Fax 334-242-9202
P.O. Box 370
Russellville, Alabama 35653
Phone 256-332-6966 Fax 256-332-6967
Roger Bedford is a state senator for Franklin County.