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Coalition forms to support children, parents seeking better schools

A new coalition has formed to support school choice in Alabama.

A statement from the Alabama Policy Institute (API) identified the coalition as “one of the first collaborative efforts among the various stakeholders and advocacy groups in the school choice fight in Alabama.”

The AAA Coalition includes schools, children’s advocacy organizations, scholarship funds and a business organization.

The group’s name is derived from the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) which is the law put in place to allow children in failing schools to attend better ones.

Phil Williams, API’s Director of Policy Strategy, sees its formation as a way to highlight the initiative’s success.

“By banding together we are able to pool resources and collaborate on messaging in such a way as to maximize the message that the AAA is working and working well,” Williams told Yellowhammer News. “The various stakeholders in the school choice arena in Alabama now have a history of data to rely on that shows how successful the AAA has become. But it is also far more than just data. There are anecdotal success stories at every turn in which parents, students and educators point to life changing events that were precipitated by a scholarship through the AAA.”

Williams also noted that the time is right for the group to come together to show its collective strength on the AAA.

“We’ve also seen unfortunate and misguided action from local school boards calling for such a repeal,” said Williams. “The members of the AAA Coalition chose not to allow the positive impact of the AAA to be overshadowed by those who simply want to maintain the status quo in Alabama’s education environment.”

According to Williams, the AAA Coalition is formed around two fundamental beliefs: education dollars should benefit children rather than systems and parents and guardians should have the greatest say in their children’s education.

“No child should be trapped into a school environment that is not serving their needs simply because of where they live, or the income of their household,” he said. “The AAA affords families the right to have the final word over what is best for their child and what is best for the education of their child.”

More than 4,000 students received AAA scholarships during the 2016-17 school year, according to the coalition’s website.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.