By most metrics, Alabama has a lacking public education system, and for decades, policymakers at the state level have struggled to find an adequate remedy.
Last week, State Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) brought a school choice bill for the legislature to consider as a possible fix for Alabama public schools.
However, some local officials are pushing back against the push for a school choice system.
In Covington County, the public schools perform relatively well compared to some of the surrounding school systems.
They perform so well that there are private schools in Covington County, which is home to the Covington County, Andalusia and Opp public school systems.
“There were a few folks back in the late-1960s, early-70s who tried to start a private school here in Andalusia,” Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson explained during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It stayed opened about four or five years, then closed because it couldn’t compete. We’ve got such a good public school system that we just don’t have any demand for private schools.”
Johnson, whose city is constantly upgrading its public school, stressed the importance of public education and argued against public money going to private schooling.
“I don’t have any problem with parents who want to send their children to private school,” Johnson explained. “They certainly have a right to do that. But they ought to have to pay for it. And, you know, public education is what has brought this country to the great place we are, leadership. The greatest generation really started. Public education became strong during that period of time and brought America to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, nation in the history of the world. That means that we need to be able to give everyone a good public education. And that takes public support from all sectors. So if someone wants to send their kid to a private school, that’s fine. But don’t take the money away from the public school system to send children to private schools.”
The Andalusia mayor said there would be no benefit from a one-size-fits-all school choice initiative instituted at the state level.
“It won’t help our situation, and it won’t help most situations, in my opinion, because I think as citizens, we should be expected to help support all the public efforts that are out there for education because we benefit from it,” he added. “Everyone benefits from a good public school system. Now, if you individually want to send your child to a private school, that’s fine. But don’t take money away from the public school system to send your child to a private school.”
Johnson said his recommendation for improving public education throughout the state would be to limit the state-level governance over local schools and return power back to local officials.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.