Opponents line up over charter school proposal

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A battle is expected to erupt over creating charter schools in Alabama.

Monday, Gov. Bob Riley and Ala. State School Supt. Joe Morton proposed charter schools with the support of the A-Plus Education Partnership. Alabama is one of ten states not to have charter schools. Riley said that has to change.

"If your parents have enough money they can send you to a private school," Riley said. "If not you are going to continue to go to a school that we know continues to fail."

Morton said charter schools will benefit children in Alabama.

"I don't see this as a way to harm public education but rather a ay to build new support around strong public schools," Morton said.

The Alabama Education Association in Birmingham has big doubts about the idea.

"Charter schools take taxpayers dollars," said Lance Hyche, Birmingham chapter of the Alabama Education Association. "They don't play by the same regulations, the same rules. We know it only weaken the public school system in Alabama."

Charter schools can hire and fire teachers without the red tape of public schools. The schools can set up their own curriculum, the number of days and hours they operate. Gov. Riley dismisses allegations charter schools will lead to the re-segregation of  Alabama schools.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you have an African American president pushing this because he sees how effective this can be," Riley said.

Despite the promise to improve education, Hyche said that is no guarantee.

"The research shows that public schools and charter schools are no different," Hyche said. "Charter schools, they simply drain money away from cash strapped public schools."