Alabama leaders in epic battle over charter schools.
More: The boxing gloves are on as Alabama stakeholders fight over House Bill 84(HB 84). HB 84 was introduced in the state House under the parameters of “Flexibility Bills” in 2013. Many opponents allege that HB 84 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As a public school employee in this state since 1992, I believe that we need to address this issue more comprehensively.
Address economic mobility in public school stakeholders.
The Department of Labor should find a way to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $9-$12 an hour. I believe that parents who consistently struggle with financial issues such as under-employment, unemployment, and stagnated wages can become more active stakeholders if this issue is resolved.
Employers will need to create more jobs to hire more parents. Parents will need to acquire more job skills per employer’s demands.
I do not believe that parents should have to decide whether paying utility bills and rent is more important than investing in supplemental resources to advance their child’s education.
Parents should not continually expect classroom teachers to pay out of their pockets for supplemental resources such as more school supplies, more technology in the classroom, some snacks for children who miss meals,etc. State allocated teacher supply monies hardly ever covers annual expenses needed to effectively meet all students’ needs.
Researcher David Berliner wrote in American Teacher (Jan.-Feb. 2013) that, “Both logic and research suggest that economic policies that reduce income inequality throughout the United States are quite likely to improve education a lot.” A lot does not always mean significantly.
Public vs. Charter Schools battle continues.
Former D.C. chancellor Michelle Rhee created Students First to allow a path for charter schools in all states. According to information published on Students First website, “StudentsFirst created the State Policy Report Card to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state.
We believe state policies must empower parents to make the best choices for their children, and they must enable school administrators to recognize, reward, and retain the best teachers and principals.(reportcard.studentsfirst.org)” Alabama received an F from StudentsFirst on the state’s report card.
Dr. Gregory T. Graves, Associate Executive Secretary of Alabama Education Association argues in Alabama School Journal that, “The Republican leadership in the House has introduced House Bill 84(HB 84)(in which) educators become at-will employees subject to being fired on a whim by an administrator who has a friend who needs a job.
Most of your benefits and working conditions are set by law. HB84 would make all of those laws meaningless. They will be free to give their money away to their friends, cronies, and campaign contributors in the guise of contracts. They are determined to destroy public education in this state and to take away your livelihood with it.”
Charter schools can basically be run like private schools. Teacher unions like AEA and AFT will not be able to represent charter school employees. Therefore, the concerns of Graves are authentic in opposition to HB 84, and charter schools.
After serving as a substitute teacher since 1992, I can attest to the fact that many students struggle, and there are some leadership/financial issues that must be resolved in public schools. However, this is evident in many other large public schools districts locally and nationally.
We should empower all stakeholders in public schools by offering parents professional and personal developmental opportunities like we do for school employees. We should allow classroom teachers to teach students using a holistic paradigm, and not just teach to the test.
Do not cut HeadStart, but expand this pre-K program. Pay all school employees fair cost-of-living (COL) wages and benefits commensurate with the standard of living increases we face annually. I’m not implying that we give school employees raises annually, but that equitable pay raises are fair when implemented according to current cost of living expenditures. Fair COL pay rates would exempt school employees from being eligible for food stamps, public housing and social programs for the poor.
Substitute teachers with four-year degrees should earn no less than $80-$100 a day in my school district, regardless of whether subs work on-call, in long-term sub assignments, or possess 4-year degrees in education/teacher certification. The Substitute Teaching Institute asserts that, “One full year of a child’s elementary and secondary education is taught by substitute teachers.”
Charter schools will eventually be allowed in Alabama, but don’t erode public schools to promote charter schools. Charter schools should be an option that parents choose based on facts, not political fiction and skewed data. You don’t have to belong to any political party to acknowledge that students will always come first.
Without students, none of us would have jobs or careers. Students are just waiting on adults to practice with public policies what many of them hear preached at school, home, church and in the community.