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Alabamians to demand school choice with massive march on the Capitol

YH School Choice

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Thousands of school choice supporters will march on Alabama’s Capitol next week to urge the Governor and Alabama legislature to further empower parents and increase educational opportunities by expanding school choice in the state. More than 2,000 advocates are expected to be in attendance for the event, which is being organized as part of a nationwide education reform push known as School Choice Week.

“The Alabama Federation for Children is excited that families across the state of Alabama finally have a choice when it comes to the education of their children,” said Ryan Cantrell, State Director of the Alabama Federation for Children. “This National School Choice Week event will give us the chance to celebrate the success stories of students who have been able to take advantage of scholarships through the Alabama Accountability Act, while also rallying for more types of educational options.”

During last year’s National School Choice Week there were approximately 5,500 events across the country. This year that number is expected to nearly double. According to the National School Choice Week website, “Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling.”

Several prominent school choice advocacy groups are involved in organizing the Alabama event, and noted rights activist Dr. Howard Fuller and education reform leader Kevin P. Chavous are among those leading the march.

Alabama made history in 2013 when the state legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act, a tax credit scholarship program. This year the legislature is poised to vote on a public charter schools program.

Several national names have recently weighed in on the issue, including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who came to Birmingham in support of Alabama Republicans’ fight for school choice, prompting Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del March to tell Yellowhammer, “I am glad to have support from national leaders like Senator Marco Rubio joining in the fight for school choice in Alabama. The Accountability Act was a step in the right direction and I look forward to joining with my colleagues in the Senate and House as we continue to push for the very best education for all children, regardless of zip code or family income level.”

Alabama native and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also made waves when she derided teachers unions, including the Alabama Education Association (AEA), for actively working against school choice, thereby trapping students in underperforming schools.

“The Republican Party — we’re the Party of education reform and school choice and giving parents a chance to get poor kids out of failing neighborhood public schools,” she said. “(We’re) not defending poor teachers, not defending union policies…”

In a 2014 statewide poll the Alabama Federation for Children, in conjunction with the Black Alliance for Educational Options found broad support for school choice and decreasing support for the AEA, a longtime school choice detractor.

Next week’s march and rally will begin at 9:00 am at the Doubletree Hotel in Montgomery, and attendees will march to the South Lawn of the Alabama Capitol, where community leaders, students, and parents will speak.

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