The Alabama Education Association has jumped into the upcoming election for House District 74, with a flier criticizing GOP candidate Charlotte Meadows for her support of the Alabama Accountability Act.
The flier, sent out by Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education, AEA’s political action committee, notes Meadows’ position with StudentsFirst Alabama and says Meadows, a former president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, “gives new meaning to being a ‘Double Dipper.’”
“It would be great for Charlotte Meadows if she’s elected to the Legislature,” the flier says. “Then she could vote for legislation that benefits the special interest group she works for.”
StudentsFirst was founded by former Washington DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and advocates for charter schools and ending teacher tenure. The Alabama Accountability Act, signed by Gov. Robert Bentley last spring after bitter debate in the Legislature, offers tax credits to families of students in schools designated as failing, which can be applied toward private school tuition.
Meadows, who sent a copy of the flier to the Advertiser, reiterated her support for the law in an e-mailed statement.
“Alabama’s education system needs reform and I’m not going to back down because AEA attacks me,” the statement said. “I’m the only candidate that is pushing for education reform and not defending the status quo on education. I support the Accountability Act because I believe it is good for our students and families.”
An attempt to reach AEA for comment Thursday evening was not immediately successful.
Meadows said at a candidate forum on Sept. 17 that the Act was “a first step” toward school changes. However, Meadows later said the way the tax credits were approved — by a last-minute amendment of a school flexibility bill in a conference committee — was “pretty horrible.”
Montgomery County Commissioner Dimitri Polizos and Montgomery County Board of Education member Heather Sellers, also seeking the nomination for the seat, oppose the Accountability Act. Sellers said at the Sept. 17 forum she objected to the way it was passed and said she “would not have voted for it” because she would not have had time to review it. Polizos called the legislation “the midnight bill” and said people “don’t understand how to use the credits.”
AEA had not contributed to any of the candidates as of Sept. 23, according to campaign finance records.
Supporters of the Accountability Act say it will encourage competition and give students in failing schools a chance at a good education. Opponents say the credits, worth a little more than $3,500, are not enough to cover the cost of tuition at most private schools and will drain resources from struggling public schools. The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a federal lawsuit over the act.