AFC: Court erred in ruling against Alabama parents and children

Expresses optimism an appeal will prevail

Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2014) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, expressed disappointment in Montgomery County circuit court Judge Eugene Reese’s ruling that declared Alabama’s educational choice program  unconstitutional, but is hopeful  that the flawed ruling will be overturned.

“Today’s ruling is disappointing and another example of the status quo fighting to block children from attending quality schools of their parents’ choice,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the American Federation for Children. “It’s shameful that a teachers’ union would put their interests ahead of what’s best for Alabama’s children. Too many children from low-income families are trapped in underperforming schools and the Alabama Tax Credit Scholarship program provides a necessary lifeline to these children. We remain committed to defending educational choice and advancing the cause of parental empowerment in the state of Alabama.”

This is the second lawsuit against the Alabama Accountability Act. The first lawsuit, filed in federal court, was dismissed and the program was upheld.

According to 2013 NAEP scores from Alabama’s public schools, 70 percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading or math, while 75 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in reading, and 80 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in math.

The Alabama Tax Credit Scholarship program provides low-income children who attend failing schools a scholarship to attend a private school of their parents’ choice.

Only 62 percent of economically disadvantage students graduate high school in Alabama, 10 percent lower than the statewide average and 17 percent lower than the national average.

“The educational status quo is not working and too many children fall through the cracks, and it is why this alternative is needed,” added Chavous. “It should speak volumes that the head of the Alabama teachers’ union exercises choice  to send his children to private school, but he’s committed to denying that same opportunity to families who are less fortunate and have a child assigned to a failing school.

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The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families. 

Kevin P. Chavous is a noted attorney, author, and national school reform leader.  A former member of the Council of the District of Columbia and a former chairman of D.C.’s Education Committee, Chavous was responsible for enacting numerous education reforms in D.C. Chavous also presides as board chair for Democrats for Education Reform and is a former chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.