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Local AEA Director Calls Alabama Accountability Act Passage ‘Mind-boggling’

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --Alabama Democrats and others opposed to the Alabama Accountability Act passed by the Legislature on Thursday night are considering legal action to formally oppose the bill, which is headed to Governor Robert Bentley's desk next week.

"All the educational leaders in Alabama were saying this is bad, this is wrong, don't do this."

Beverly Sims, AEA UniServe Director for north Alabama's district 3 says after two weeks of back and forth with the bill, amendments followed Thursday that led many educators to believe a compromise was reached. Sims says she and her counterparts were ready to support the bill before it passed the senate and was sent to a six-member conference committee where it swiftly passed and tripled in size, without Sims says, the input of educators.

"We didn't get to offer any evidence as to what we thought was wrong with the bill or argue any points on the bill," says Sims. "It was just ram-rodded through by people who know very little about public education--it was a sad day."

Sims says budget wise Huntsville and Madison City Schools are in a little better shape than  the Madison County System who she claims will suffer further with added transportation costs related to parents choosing to send their children to higher performing schools.

"This is going to hurt Madison County children terribly," Sims explains. "Not only did they call for tax credits for kids who want to go to private schools, they called for the parents of kids in failing schools to be able to choose to send them elsewhere, and public education has to provide transportation for those schools."

Sims says that spells trouble for systems already scraping by with limited transportation funds to begin with. With many contending the passage of the bill will adversely affect the poorest of schools, students and families, Sims says the focus now is to appeal to Governor Bentley for an executive amendment before Tuesday.

"We've lost our trust in him," says Sims plainly, "We've lost our trust in most of the legislators, so where we go from here I don't know but I know the superintendents are scrambling today trying to come up with a plan because they realize how much this is going to hurt our public school systems."

Henry Mabry, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association would not go into specifics but said AEA lawyers were studying their options for opposition.