Alabama Democrats want to scrap the state's controversial new school reform law and use the money for other programs.
The Accountability Act is the law that gives tax credits to parents who pull their children out of failing public schools. Thursday, the House of Representative's top Democrat said he already has support for his new plan to end the program.
Republicans, who maintain a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature, say the law is already proven to be successful citing the fact that 800 children have left failing schools to attend better schools. About 50 of them have enrolled in private schools.
The Accountability Act also set up a scholarship program for children to go to private schools. To date, $700,000 has been donated to the scholarship out of a maximum $25 million.
One of the House's top Democrats, Craig Ford of Etowah, says the law must be scrapped and replaced with a new initiative.
"Why would we not want to take this $40 million and move it into a program that already work," Ford asked. "If you're sincere about education, repeal the Accountability Act and let's take education as our first priority."
Ford is proposing the Accountability Act be defunded and the money moved into the Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative, or AMSTI, to make it available statewide.
"Let's stop trying to reinvent the wheel. We know what works. Let's stop gambling on the Accountability Act and invest our money in the programs that we know improve education," Ford added.
A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Education says $40 million would not be enough, estimating that the state would have to commit more than %50 million each year toward AMSTI to make it available to every child.
It's unclear how the proposal will fare, but it will most likely be defeated by Republicans who are not likely to scrap their own signature education law.
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