Special Report
School Choice & Charters

Gov. Riley Asks Ala. Board to Endorse Charter Schools

By The Associated Press — December 23, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley asked members of the state school board Tuesday to support his efforts to authorize charter schools.

Riley told board members that a bill would be introduced in the upcoming legislative session that would allow charter schools to operate in the state. He said authorizing charter schools would give Alabama a better chance to compete for as much as $200 million in federal money the Obama administration is offering to states for innovative education programs.

Charter schools operate as public institutions, but with less red tape and regulations. The schools must meet state academic standards and are not allowed to discriminate in enrollment. But the schools often operate without requirements that students live in certain neighborhoods or only meet a certain number of days.

“This allows schools to still be public schools but does away with the bureaucracy that limits their ability to succeed,” Riley said.

He said charter schools might help improve some poor performing schools in economically disadvantaged areas. He said one approach would be to turn schools with poor test scores into charter schools.

“We could focus on the schools that just haven’t been able to put it together. I really believe this is something this board needs to support,” Riley said.

Efforts to authorize charter schools have been opposed by the state’s teachers union, the Alabama Education Association. AEA officials say charter schools might allow schools to fire teachers without going through the current dismissal procedures.

Mary Bruce Ogles, AEA’s assistant executive secretary, said union officials want to look at the legislation.

“Unless we see something very different, we are still concerned about the dismissal issue,” Ogles said.

She said it is more urgent for the governor and the Legislature to pass a budget that adequately funds education during a recession than to create charter schools.

The governor and his education policy adviser, Mark Dixon, spent almost two hours explaining to board members how charter schools would work. Dixon said the final bill has not been prepared and it has not been decided which legislator will sponsor it.

Board vice president Randy McKinney said he expects the board will study the governor’s proposal, offer input and vote on whether to endorse it.

Board member Ella Bell of Montgomery said she worries that charter schools might cause schools that are now integrated to become all-black or all white.

Bell, who is black, said she has worked much of her life to integrate schools and is concerned that many remain mostly segregated.

“How in the world is this going to make sure schools like that don’t exist,” Bell asked the governor.

Riley said admission into the schools would be random and not be based on race. He pointed out that President Barack Obama is a supporter of charter schools.

“You have the nation’s first African-American president pushing for this,” Riley said.

Related Tags:

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Opinion 'Control Freaks' Are 'Losing Their Grip' on Education
"School choice evangelist" says new laws are a response to unions, bureaucracies, and K-12 ideologues.
12 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Another State Is Launching a Private School Choice Program. Will More Follow?
Alabama is the 12th state to offer a private school choice program that all students in the state will be eligible to access.
5 min read
Image of students working at desks, wearing black and white school uniforms.
School Choice & Charters Tracker Which States Have Private School Choice?
Education savings accounts, voucher, and tax-credit scholarships are growing. This tracker keeps tabs on them so you don't have to.
School Choice & Charters Opinion What's the State of Charter Schools Today?
Even though there's momentum behind the charter school movement, charters face many of the same challenges as traditional public schools.
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty