Top AEA official: Accountability act ill-conceived and illegally enacted

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The second in charge at the Alabama Education Association said on Thursday that the Alabama Accountability Act passed by the Alabama Legislature was ill-conceived and illegally enacted.

AEA Associate Executive Secretary Gregory Graves

AEA Associate Executive Secretary Gregory Graves

Gregory Graves, associate executive secretary for the AEA, also questioned the responsibility of lawmakers setting aside $40 million in public money to help some students go to select private schools when parents are having to pay for toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and other items that were once funded by the schools.

Graves, a lawyer who oversees the legal work of the AEA, said the framers of the state Constitution also wrote that the state had no business subsidizing religious ministries.

He said the Accountability Act will have a negative impact on students, schools, and the state.

AEAlogoLawyers for the AEA filed a state lawsuit on behalf of a state senator, school superintendent and classroom teacher this week challenging the constitutionality of the act, which allows a tax credit for parents of children in failing schools to attend a non-failing public school or a private school.

Graves said the Accountability Act would cost $40 million this school year regardless of how many students took advantage of the tax credit, which is estimated to be about $3,500 a year per student, because the money is already set aside. He said those tax dollars should be used to educate children and not to provide welfare for private schools. If left unchallenged, Graves said the cost of the law “will grow to an astronomical level.”

Graves pointed out that even Hoover, which he said is considered an affluent school district, has cut transportation services because of a lack of funding.

When asked about how the lawsuit could eventually be received by the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court, Graves said “because of the impact on Alabama’s children, we’ll leave that up to the court.”

In a release, the AEA charges that the claims in its 10-count complaint can be grouped into three basic areas: “violations in how HB84 was passed, violations dealing with the earmarking of funds, and violations regarding public funds being used for charitable and religious institutions.”

– posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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