Governor Ivey’s comment at the state school board work session last week about “failing schools” opened the door for what should have long been done–a thorough look at the Alabama Accountability Act and it’s shortcomings.

FAILING SCHOOLS is largely a gimmick inserted in the act to throw a bone to parents who move their kids from failing to non-failing schools.  In fact, it is mentioned in the first paragraph of the original bill:

“to provide an income tax credit to any parent who transfers a student enrolled in or assigned to attend a failing public K-12 school to a nonfailing public school or nonpublic school of the parent’s choice”

However, according to a reliable source, only about 100-125 parents apply for such a tax deduction when filing their state income tax.

(This act is administered by the Revenue Department, not the Department of Education, and each year they work with the Department of Education to try and verify if the children of those asking for this deduction were, in fact, attending a failing school.  It is not uncommon to find a few cases where there is no record of children having been enrolled in any Alabama school.)

The law also says that when a child transfers, 20 percent of the money that normally would leave the school with them must remain with the failing school.  This amounts to only about $900 per student.

It certainly appears that amending the law and eliminating any reference to “failing schools” would have virtually no impact on how the program is administered–and it would eliminate the present confusion caused by having one list of “failing schools” and another list of schools graded by a letter grade of A-F.

Our present system makes no sense.

We are told there are now 75 “failing schools.”  Yet, the latest A-F ranking shows there are only 24 F schools in the state (out of 1,315).  Five of these F schools are not on the failing  list.  But 43 D schools are on it, along with 11 Cs and two rated as a B.  This is downright bizarre and nonsense of the highest order.

How do you explain to a principal and faculty who celebrate a B that they are on the failing list?  You don’t.

The failing school portion of the accountability act should be scrapped as it serves no useful purpose.