Alabama GOP winner and charter schools

Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.

This is an interesting twist. Dr. Robert Bentley won the GOP nomination for governor tonight, beating the establishment candidate.  In his web biography, here’s how he describes himself:

He is a pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-second amendment conservative who believes in smaller and more limited government. Bentley is the only Republican candidate for Governor of Alabama who completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama.

He also has a strong and firm opinion about charter schools.

On February 10, 2010 I voted to indefinitely postpone considering charter school legislation because it was inadequate for Alabama and needed improvement.  While I prepared two amendments to improve the bill so I could vote in favor of it, the committee did not consider either one.  My first amendment limited the initial number of initial charter schools to ten, five for technical schools and five for local community schools.  This initial limit would allow the state to test and evaluate the effectiveness of charter schools before implementing it statewide.  My second amendment gave local school boards sole authority on whether to establish charter schools in their communities, instead of the State Board of Education.  I support maximizing local authority and providing increased flexibility to local school boards, and believe local communities can better assess their own needs than the State Board of Education.  

Finally, I am not willing to fund an untested program in Alabama in order to get an Obama bailout from the “Race to the Top” money in the Obama stimulus.  I am not willing to fund an untested program in Alabama in order to get an Obama bailout.  To obtain this money, Alabama would have to change our educational rules and regulations and keep these changes in place even after the federal money runs out, even though that money does nothing to fund charter schools.  We as Republicans have been opposed to Obama bailout money.  I will continue to oppose accepting any federal funds which require Alabama to change its laws and make us responsible for funding new programs when the federal money runs out.

Note that Massachusetts rushed to change the laws to get the Race to the Top bailout, and we were rejected in our bid for the funds.  

So, is there a liberal or conservative position on charter schools?

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  • The Republican Party platform contains an endorsement of charters:

    “Expand choice by increasing the number of charter schools, and expanding education savings accounts.”

    http://www.ontheissues.org/cel

    Massachusetts embraced the charter school movement long before Obama was even involved in national politics. The charter movement in MA was launched in 1993, with passage of the MA Education Reform Act under Governor Weld (a Republican). Charters have been a lifeline for thousands of children throughout the Commonwealth but especially in inner cities, who have been trapped in low-performing districy schools, many of which cater to union demands rather than students’ needs.  

    Alabama is hardly a model of educational excellence, as its NAEP (Nation’s Report Card) ranking indicates–

    The four lowest-performing states in 8th grade math proficiency – Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, and West Virginia – rank 1st, 4th, 5th, and 8th in student poverty respectively.

    http://febp.newamerica.net/k12

    Alabama NEEDS charters! This politician’s decision to politicize the movement to score points with anti-Obama folks only serves to hurt the children of his state.