The Alabama Education Association released a radio ad slamming the legislators who passed the Alabama Accountability Act last week.
Full text of the ad:
“Our public schools are under attack. Newspapers, the state school superintendent, school boards, teachers and coaches condemn this ambush of public education. House Bill 84 could cost public schools 367 million dollars a year. Hundreds of millions will flow from public schools to private schools and for profit charter schools. Your tax dollars could even be used to pay tuition for children already in private schools. If every child in Madison County eligible under this program used it, it would cost city and county schools over 17 million dollars. Many schools could be forced to close. Who did this to you? Arthur Orr, Clay Scofield, Bill Holtzclaw, Shadrack McGill, Paul Sanford, Mike Ball, Phil Williams, Howard Sanderford, Jim Patterson, Mac McCutcheon, and Wayne Johnson. These legislators and Governor Bentley supported this attack on your schools. It’s time to fight for public education. A message from the Alabama Education Association.”
Representative Mike Ball stands by the now controversial education reform bill.
"I believe they've overblown it, which is what political advertising does sometimes," said Ball. "They overstate their case and use hyperbole."
One claim made by the AEA is also a concern we have heard from school district leaders.
"Your tax dollars could even be used to pay tuition for children already in private schools."
Ball does not dispute the claim, but says the eligible children would have to already live in a failing school district - a scenario that would be rare at best.
"I believe if you take a map of Alabama and take those failing school districts and draw out the area and super-impose that with the income level of the population you will find that these failing schools are in the areas where mostly poor people are," said Ball.
Another scenario raised in the ad: a mass exodus from failing schools:
"If every child in Madison County eligible under this program used it - it would cost city and county schools over $17 million. Many schools could be forced to close."
WHNT News 19 asked Ball if he thought chronically failing schools should be allowed to close if need be.
"If it's a failing school why should we protect failing schools? It's about children not the school. [They can then go] to a better school."