Alabama Considers Adding Charter Schools to Its Education Mix

Judy Hartnett's picture
Monday, January 30, 2012

The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School is almost always among the nations highest-ranking schools.

Across town, the Midfield school system just got taken over by the Alabama Department of Education.

The Alabama School of Fine Arts this year sent more visual artists to the prestigious Young Arts Week in Miami than any other high school in the nation.

Art instruction in many Birmingham city schools is an afterthought.

Education, in Alabama, is a tale of 67 counties and 65 cities.

It is, in places, the best.

And it is, in too many places, among the worst.

The quality of education offered to children in Alabama depends largely on geography and ability to pay. Lawmakers say it is time to change that by offering parents in failing school systems a choice of where they send their children. And it is likely to come in the form of charter schools.

"Charter schools are not the answer to all our problems, but they are one tool we can have to provide options," said Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, who as speaker of the House is helping draft a charter schools bill for Alabama. "They don't work everywhere, and they're not needed everywhere. But with the number of churches, foundations and businesses we have here, there are enough entities that care enough about students to want to apply for a charter."

Charter schools are necessary in areas of chronically failing schools and underserved children, Hubbard said.

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