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Tim James on public school system: ‘I’m not going to destroy it — It’s already been destroyed’

Gubernatorial candidate Tim James continues to promote his school choice plan on the campaign trail.

Critics of the plan say more school choice didn’t solve the problems and would just take away money and resources from public schools in Alabama.

Wednesday on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” James defended his school choice plan and blasted the current leadership for failing to help students in the Yellowhammer State.

“The attacks are already coming from the education establishment,” he said, “and what they’re saying is ‘the school choice thing, James is going to destroy public education.’ I’ve heard now that’s come at us and you know, Michael, I’m going wait a minute, I’m not going to destroy it. It’s already been destroyed. So, the same guys that are saying that we’re going to destroy it are the guys that have been in charge, and it has been in destruction right now because we’re at the bottom of the barrel.”

The candidate said he was just offering solutions to an already failing system.

“[W]hat we intend to do is to fix it,” he explained, “what they have destroyed, and it’s going to be tough but school choice is a part of that because it gives moms and dads and often poor families who don’t have the options of private schools and all this stuff, it gives them an option to pull they’re child out of an underperforming school and put them in another public school that has openings or a private school that will accept your vouchers, or a charter school or even homeschool.”

James said there was a reason he had been attacked on this issue.

“They’re right about one thing,” he said. “When they say James is after public education. I’m after it all right. I intend to disrupt it and deconstruct it in a good way to its foundation and build it new from the ground up and turn this thing around.”

He also emphasized that Gov. Kay Ivey had failed students in Alabama.

“Well she’s been either lieutenant governor or governor for the last dozen years,” he argued, “and during her tenure in the top two executive positions in the state we’ve gone, as I’ve said, from the 30s in reading and the 2s in math to dead last.”

James concluded that there needed to be reforms now.

“Either we make a change, Michael,” he continued, “or we just continue in this destructive mode educationally…and [Ivey] said her biggest regret is she didn’t get her 10 casinos.”

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