Montgomery freshman Republican house member Charlotte Meadows wants to amend the current Alabama Accountability Act to allow donors giving to scholarship giving organizations (SGO) to get an even larger tax break than they currently can. Each dollar given to a SGO is one less dollar going to the Education Trust Fund.
Presently donors get a 50 percent tax credit for half of their donation. Meadows wants to increase this to 75 percent.
The Accountability Act has never lived up to its promises.
Figures from the Revenue Department which administers the bill, show a total of $148 million have been donated in the past seven years. Originally, total donations per year were capped at $25 million. However, this was later changed to $30 million. But records show that the cap has only been reached one time, an indication that the program has never been embraced by tax payers.
In fact, in 2019, the last year figures are available, donations were only $15.9 million, just slightly more than one half of the $30 million cap. So Meadows has come up with her bill as a “workaround” in an effort to entice more contributions.
Of course, when this bill was rammed through the legislature under very strange circumstances in 2013, bill sponsor Senator Del Marsh wanted us to believe it was a magic potion which would “help poor students stuck in failing schools’.” The only problem is that it has done anything but. Numbers taken from SGO annual reports show that in the fall of 2020 there were only 2,925 students receiving AAA scholarships to private schools. This was the lowest number since the program began..
And what about those students stuck in “failing schools?” That never happened either. Of the 2,925 last fall, only 33.4 percent met the qualification of “zoned” to attend a failing school.. And this number is bogus because a student can be zoned for a failing school, but have never set foot in one.
And how are these scholarship students doing? Not very well says the The Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Alabama which has now reviewed AAA three times. In their most recent report, for school year 2018-19, the institute says, “Six years after the passage of the AAA, there is no evidence that the scholarship program has resulted in academic achievement that is superior to Alabama public schools.”
Is it any wonder that 24 local school boards have passed resolutions calling for AAA to be abolished?
Shortly after the bill was passed in 2013, Senator Marsh was asked why he did not consult with any educators when creating the bill. Remarkably, his response was, “Because they might have objected to it.”
But give Marsh credit for one thing–he still refuses to work with educators. Just yesterday in a committee meeting about another education bill sponsored by Marsh, when Senator Vivian Figures asked him if had talked to educators he said he had no interest in doing so.
The first post I wrote on the blog six years ago was about the Alabama Accountability Act. I have written more than 100 others since then.
It was a scam back then, and time has proven that it still is.
AAA doesn’t need another amendment. It needs to be abolished.