By Mary Sell
MONTGOMERY — Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, has a list of proposed changes he’d like to see made to the Alabama Accountability Act in the last four remaining work days of the legislative session.
The Accountability Act started in February as a bill to give local schools more control of their curriculum and spending.
It was changed significantly, and without much educator input, to include a tax credit for people who move their children from the state’s worst schools to other public or private schools.
Gov. Robert Bentley signed the bill into law, but a bill to make several changes to the act is pending.
Orr said he wants to make sure the focus of the act, which will pull money from the public school budget, is to help economically disadvantaged families trapped in underperforming schools, not those who have the resources to leave on their own.
Orr said he is working on several amendments to the bill, including:
▪ requiring testing that would disqualify wealthier Alabamians from receiving the tax credit;
▪ capping the credit at $7,200 a year per family, which means the credit would only apply to two children per family;
▪ making clear that families already in private schools are not eligible for the credit; and
▪ changing the definition of a failing school from one at the bottom 10 percent in standardized tests to the bottom 5 percent. That would allow for schools that have made significant progress in recent years to come off the list. That follows a recommendation from State Superintendent Tommy Bice. More...