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ALGOP chair: ‘Time has come’ for school choice

The chairman of the Republican Party of Alabama said the time is now for education reform in the Yellowhammer State.

ALGOP Chair John Wahl is echoing Gov. Kay Ivey, who has made a priority of her administration to improve education standards in Alabama.

Not only has she mentioned the need for more school choice options, but she also made it her goal to put the state in the top 30 for education in the country by the end of her term.

During a recent appearance on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” Wahl discussed the need to reform Alabama’s education system as soon as possible.

“I was down in Montgomery for the inauguration and I also very much appreciated that she mentioned school choice in her speech, so did the lieutenant governor,” Wahl said. “And I think that’s something that, hopefully that time has come. I know that’s something that I have been working on as chairman on the party for several years.”

Wahl believes the people of the state deserve better when it comes to education.

“(W)e have to do something about education,” he said. “The people of Alabama deserve better, our parents deserve better, and especially our children deserve better. So that’s going to be a major target for the party this coming session. Can we pass a school choice bill and hopefully other legislation that will improve education education here in Alabama for both private schools and public schools?”

The party leader admitted some frustration that Alabama is lagging when it comes to expanding school choice. However, he said there are things that can be learned to make it an effective program.

“I think the important thing is not that we have to be first, but that we find a way to be best,” he said. “So, in a way, yes you want to be out there leading a curve, but it’s also somewhat of a positive to have another state do it because you can look and see how their systems are working … I actually think it gives us hope to actually have a better bill and have better talking points as we’re explaining why it is a good idea for our education system.”

Wahl also responded to critics who say more school options will not help raise educational standards in Alabama.

“I think we need to trust the parents,” he said. “Parents are taking the initiative to find a school that they trust and putting their chidden in it, I think that’s their decision, not the state’s. Anytime when you think state government should use their power to overrule the decision of a parent, I take exception to that, and I think that needs to be a very very serious question.

“You have to look at that situation extremely carefully because that’s not the proper role of government.”

He said the chances of a real school choice bill passing are better than the past because he sees more political leaders backing change in education.

“(W)ith the work of some of our elected officials, the work of the party explaining the issues, seeing the push happening national, I think there’s definitely a shift,” he said. “I also think you’re definitely going to see this cycle be a cycle where there’s more time to focus on the issue of education.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee\

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