House Committee Approves School Flexibility Act

The House Education Policy Committee today gave a favorable report to HB 84, known as the Local Control School Flexibility Act.

Sponsored by Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Mobile, the bill would provide local school systems the ability to request more flexibility from certain state statutes, policies and regulations in order to make decisions that improve education within their districts.

Fincher, a passionate advocate for education reform in Alabama, explained to committee members that the legislation would allow local school boards, superintendents, teachers and parents to make choices that help their students because they know what works best in their districts, not bureaucrats in Montgomery.  “The one size fits all mentality does not work,” Fincher said.  “This does not require a single school system to participate.  It is optional.”

Supporters and opponents of the legislation took turns expressing their viewpoints for over an hour.  While the supporters consisted of State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice, local school board members, superintendents and retired teachers from around the state, the opponents consisted of the state’s education unions.

Speaking against the legislation, the executive secretary of the state’s largest union, Dr. Henry Mabry, told the committee they could not support the bill because it would dismantle the Alabama code as it relates to education and would also gut Alabama’s tenure law.

“This law will not get rid of tenure,” Fincher told the committee.  “Two years ago when I sponsored the Students First act, AEA said it would be the end of education.  They were wrong about that, and they are wrong about this as well.”

After the committee accepted a few non-controversial amendments, the legislation was approved on a voice vote.

In another example of an expanded business/education alliance working together, the BCA has joined with several other groups in supporting the School Flexibility Act:
· Alabama Association of School Boards
· School Superintendents of Alabama
· Alabama Association of School Business Officials
· A+ Education Partnership
· Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools
· Alabama State Department of Education

– Nathan M. Lindsay