Top 10 Reasons Alabama’s New Immigration Law is a Disaster for Education

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, November 18, 2011

State’s schools are seeing more empty chairs in the classroom and burdens on educators.

1. Children are afraid to come to school. Thousands of students in Alabama stopped showing up for school in the days after a court ruling allowing the new law to go into effect. Attendance is still dropping even though the courts halted the schools provision of the law. As Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, stated, “We're concerned about the chilling effect on attendance and registration of students that we are required by law to serve."

2. The state is losing a potential pool of educated citizens. A 1982 Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe, provided that undocumented kids cannot be denied education. Vi Parramore, president of the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers, said, “The promise of public schools is to educate all children who walk through their doors. What do we possibly hope to accomplish by scaring children away from the classroom?”

3. Schools will be hurt financially. Loss of enrollment, as well as the cost of compliance with the new unfunded mandate noted above, will hurt Alabama schools financially. Brandi Gholston, Tharptown Elementary guidance counselor, stated “We could get into the emotional aspects of this all day long, but looking just at numbers, we stand to lose a lot of revenue.”

4. Alabama’s schools already face significant fiscal challenges with poor student results. State aid for public education in Alabama has steeply declined in the past few years, decimating school finances. This is in a state that already ranks 33 out of 50 in overall per-pupil funding. The lack of funding affects student outcomes: In 2011, for example, the state received a D+ for its K-12 education achievement from the Quality Counts report, with only six states and the District of Columbia faring worse. Student education will almost certainly suffer if Alabama’s schools operate with even less funding as a result of declines in enrollment and greater immigration responsibilities.

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