Charter Pulse

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ALABAMA: GOP to go to Supreme Court for green light on voucher bill

legislationMONTGOMERY, Ala. – A Democratic judge will continue to block Republican Gov. Robert Bentley from signing a school reform bill that would give the parents of children stuck in failing schools tax credits to help pay tuition at private schools.

Bentley was ready to sign the legislation Tuesday afternoon, but the Alabama Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, filed a last-minute lawsuit, claiming Republican lawmakers violated a state law and a legislative rule when passing the bill.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Price issued a temporary restraining order, preventing Bentley from signing the bill, and held a hearing on the matter Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday Price declared that the union had “demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success” in proving its claims and extended the restraining order until a scheduled hearing on March 15, according to TimesDaily.com.

The union obviously picked the right judge, from the right party, to do its bidding.

Republicans have vowed to take the case to the Alabama Supreme Court, seeking immediate relief from the restraining order. Bentley says he will quickly sign the legislation as soon as he is permitted by law.

“I am confident that a higher court will see the flaws with this patently political ruling,” Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was quoted as saying.

The teachers union’s complaints are procedural in nature. Union officials claim Republican lawmakers serving on a House-Senate conference committee violated the open meetings act by gathering privately to add the tax credit language to the bill.

They also claim lawmakers violated their own rules by adding a new appropriation to a pending bill in conference committee.

But the real reason the union filed the lawsuit is because it hates competition for students (and the state dollars attached to each one) from private or charter schools. The union has already been successful in blocking charter schools from opening in Alabama.

The unions would rather leave children stuck in failing public schools than risk the loss of students and corresponding layoffs of a few dues-paying teachers.

None of that should matter in the end. Even if the Republicans have no success at the Supreme Court level, and Price eventually rules in the union’s favor, GOP lawmakers would  be free to pass the legislation again, being careful not to violate any procedural laws or regulations.

Then Bentley would be free to sign the legislation, and children forced to attend bad schools would have a ray of hope to cling to.

Source: EAGnews.org – by Steve Gunn

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