Marsh urges action on education bill this session

Marsh urges action on education bill this session

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, took to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to argue for more parental choice and more accountability in schools from the state department of education.

He encouraged his counterparts to pass legislation this session that signals state leadership isn’t happy with its low national education rankings.

Marsh’s Senate Bill 140 is a massive school choice measure that, as originally written, would let about $5,500 in state funding follow students to private schools or homeschool settings. Last week, the bill was sent to a study commission to further explore the issue, signaling its not likely to pass this session.

“I refuse to let this commission be the ‘Kill Del Marsh’s Bill Committee’” Marsh, in his last legislative session, said Tuesday.

In a Senate floor discussion, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said he hopes the commission looks at some of the environmental factors in low-income school systems that lead to poor student performance. He also said private schools’ performances aren’t scrutinized like public schools’ and may not be better.

“It’s only the public schools that have to wear the banner of failing schools,” he said.

Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, on the Senate floor said he’d like to see Marsh’s bill advance this session.

“This body needs to lead and say this is what we need to do for the state or Alabama and do it,” he said.

The commission meets Wednesday for the first time. It includes Marsh; Singleton; Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville; Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur; Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook; Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva; and Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile.

House members on the commission are: Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-Montgomery, who is sponsoring the House version of the bill; Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur; Danny Garrett, R-Trussville; Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville; Rep. Jamie Kiel R-Russellville; Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville; Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile.