School Choice Week in Alabama Draws 1,500 to Capitol

Alabama observed National School Choice Week in Montgomery today with a rally at the Capitol and speeches about the importance of quality schools, including an endorsement of education choices by Business Council of Alabama first Vice Chairman Mike Kemp.

“As a business owner in Alabama, it’s imperative that we have a well-educated workforce,” said Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions LLC in Birmingham. “School choice is a win-win for the entire state.”

The Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund estimated that 1,500 people participated in the school choice rally on the Capitol’s south lawn. It was the annual observance of school choice that featured student performances and testimonials by teachers, education and business leaders, and legislators.

The BCA co-sponsored the event along with the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund (AOSF), Business Education Alliance of Alabama, the Federation for Excellence in Education, the American Federation for Children, Public School Options, Alabama Connections Academy in Limestone County, and the Alabama Federation for Children.

Each January, National School Choice Week is an independent public awareness effort that shines a positive spotlight on effective education options for every child, according to the AOSF.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, was the sponsor of Alabama’s school choice tax credit legislation that gave parents and taxpayers choices in education. “We are going to continue to push for school choice because parents and children have every right to have options,” Sen. Marsh said.

Sen. Marsh sponsored the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 that authorizes refundable tax credits that are different from traditional tax credit programs and are of excellent use for parents of more modest incomes.

Taxpayers can donate to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations and receive tax credits for their contributions.

“For every dollar you put into this program, you transform a life, you create a future,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said. “I don’t know too many other programs where you can get that type of return.”

Governor Kay Ivey proclaimed this week as Alabama School Choice Week.

“School Choice Week is a national celebration recognized by millions of students, parents, educators, schools and community leaders, for the purpose of raising public awareness of the importance of effective education options for all children,” Governor Ivey’s proclamation stated. “It is important for parents in Alabama to explore and identify the best education options available to their children.”

There were more than 32,000 planned events across the country that were designed to raise public awareness of the educational choices available to children. The choices include traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and home schooling.

Trey Holiday is superintendent of Limestone County school system that has the first public charter school in Alabama, Corrections Academy, a virtual school.

“Public school choice allows parents to have options,” Holiday said. “We believe all Alabamians should have options.”

“We have to have options, so we can seize these opportunities,” the BCA’s Kemp said. “With proper education you can make things happen.”

You can listen to Kemp’s entire statement below.