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Patience is a virtue for virtuals


Lawmakers grappled with prison construction, forging consensus to use state BP settlement dollars and a controversial impeachment process heading into the final two days of session next week. So where are education bills?


Why patience is a virtue for virtuals; Final days of session

Lawmakers grappled with prison construction, forging consensus to use state BP settlement dollars and a controversial impeachment process heading into the final two days of session next week. So where are education bills?

Ensure virtual vendor accountability: Protect current virtual school law

Local school leaders ask lawmakers to stop the rush to change the freshly minted 2015 virtual school law. That law requiring every local school system to begin virtual school programs is being implemented this fall. S.229 (Brewbaker)is nothing but a vehicle to satisfy for-profit vendors who are unaccustomed to a law providing locally coordinated critical student supports.

Lawmakers are being told the bill clarifies existing code, but there is no confusion.

Claim #1 - The law needs to specify K-8 virtual school learning is allowed. FALSE — Current law requires school board virtual policies for grades 9-12, but local school systems already have the option to offer K-8 virtual schools. Such programs are already in place.

Claim #2 - The law must distinguish between blended and full-time virtual schools. FALSE — Blended models incorporate traditional brick and mortar learning and online learning. But those models have been in place for decades. The current law only addresses full-time virtual school students. No clarification is needed.

The for-profit vendors are putting immense pressure on lawmakers to make statewide enrollment easier for them. Their national playbook is to blanket the state with television commercials and radio ads to offer one-click enrollment in virtual schools. Last year’s virtual law was purposefully drafted to require local systems to provide guidance, support and monitoring for students to be enrolled full-time in a virtual school program.

The current law is to be implemented for the coming school year. Many school systems have not yet adopted their policies, yet vendors fear their access to state dollars may be at risk. However, school systems may work with any vendor at any time.Local arrangements are being vetted and formalized now.

Why do school leaders believe the substitute, as simple as it sounds, will fail students? Because that model has failed nationwide...time and again.

The results of allowing statewide enrollment without local coordination of supports for students are undeniable and shocking. Click to see results in Tennessee and California. Hear stories from Utah and Ohio. Look at any state where the push by for-profit vendors to expand translated to increased corporate profit margins.

Alabama learned from other states that there are multiple wrong ways to provide virtual school programs to students. Our current law is unique in trying to do right by students and avoid that risk. So why, with so many obvious risks, is there a push forward rather than allowing local school systems to implement the law and refine it moving forward? Make your voice heard!

Ask House members to vote NO on behalf of your schools and students: OPPOSE any form of S.229 (Brewbaker).


Competitive Bid Timeframe Extended

The bill to provide greater flexibility/options for school systems using the competitive bid law is before the governor for signature. H.170 (Patterson)would increase the length of time to contract for purchases or contractual services from three to five years. Additionally, the law would allow purchases under a General Services Administration contract and nationwide cooperative purchasing program. The Senate substituted the bill to allow the same options to county commissions and the House Thursday agreed with the changes for final passage. Congratulations to the Alabama Association of School Board Officials for their work with bill sponsors Rep. Jim Patterson and Sen. Gerald Dial to support the legislation.


Sent to Governor for Signature


S.11 (Allen) — Youth Suicide Prevention — would create the “Jason Flatt Act” to require annual training for certificated school personnel in suicide awareness and prevention. The bill incorporates the state’s current law and requires the state Department of Education to create an advisory committee.

H.123 (Poole) — School Wi-Fi-Funding — would provide state funding, to draw down federal E-rate dollars, for the comprehensive infrastructure plan to enable high quality Wi-Fi for every public school classroom statewide. Coupled with enactment of the Alabama Ahead Act, the bill to provide equitable student access to the internet will be a reality during the next school year.

H.168 (Warren) — Age of Enrollment —would require a child to turn six on or before Dec. 31 to start first grade. This legislation extends the timeframe from the current date of on or before Sep.1 and would become effective upon the governor’s signature.


Pending Final Passage


H.218 (Drake) — 3rd Grade Cursive —would put in statute that elementary instruction must include cursive writing by the end of third grade. The requirement already is in the state’s adopted education standards. Pending in Senate.

H.47 (Poole) — Warrantless Arrests — would authorize law enforcement with reasonable cause to arrest a person without a warrant for trespassing on school property. Pending in Senate.

H.125 (Collins) — Longitudinal Data System— would create an office for the state to aggregate data from multiple sources for pre-K, K-12, postsecondary and higher education and the workforce; would require a statewide definition for remediation. Pending in Senate.

H.466 (Williams, P.) — Retirement Contributions — would require education employees hired beginning Jan. 1, 2017, to contribute monthly to individual retirement accounts and provides opt-out provisions. Pending in Senate.

S.61 (Shelnutt) — Professional Educator Associations — would grant all professional educators’ associations same level of access to employees of public schools. Pending in House.

S.83 (Orr) — Gifted and Talented — would authorize the state Dept of Education to offer competitive two-year grants to fund educational programs for gifted and talented children. The funding for the bill are incorporated in the approved budget. Pending in House.


No Chance of Passage


H.84 (Johnson, K.) — Special Ed Savings Accounts — would divert $4.8 million in programmatic funding to be used for 1,000 special education student grants to pay for private educational services.

S.334 (Orr) — Dual Enrollment — would allowing eligible 11th and 12th grade students to take all courses at an eligible postsecondary institution and receive high school credit for the coursework.

H.184 (Rich) — Religious Released Time — would authorize high school students release time for religious instruction to satisfy an elective course requirement.

H.238 (Collins) — Inappropriate Contact — would create a Class A misdemeanor for transmission of obscene material or soliciting sexual contact between a school employee and student; and classify sexual contact by a school employee as a Class C felony. Pending in Senate.

H.299 (Henry) — Zero Tolerance — would prohibit zero tolerance policies and ensure appropriate discretion would be provided to administrators and local school boards for student discipline.

H.369 (Butler) — Inappropriate Conduct — would require annual in-service training for teachers to recognize and avoid inappropriate conduct with students.

H.505 (Williams, P.) — Tax Credit Suspension — would provide the suspension of tax credits from the General Fund or Education Trust Fund when the Governor declares appropriation.

S. 60 (Glover) — Education Standards — would repeal Alabama’s College and Career Ready education standards.

S.89 (Orr) — Civics Graduation Requirement — would require students to pass the civics portion of the citizenship naturalization test to graduate high school.

S.101 (Whatley) — Limiting Ballot Time Frame — would propose a constitutional amendment to require all state and local constitutional amendments/referenda be on statewide primary or general election ballots.

S.341 (Pittman) — Student Count — would change the funding formula annually to be adjusted by the increase or decrease in enrollment in the preceding two years.

Lottery Initiatives — Numerous lottery bills no longer have a chance of passage in the current legislative session.



Countdown to Sine Die

2016 Legislative


2 days remain


Lissa Tucker, AASB Director of Governmental Relations