Alabama's Private School Choice Program Ruled Constitutional
Alabama's private school choice program has survived a legal challenge by the state's teachers' union that reached the state's Supreme Court.
The Alabama Accountability Act allows individuals and businesses to claim tax credits for donations they make to support scholarships for students to use toward private school tuition. The law also allows eligible families to claim tax credits on their income to help pay for private school. To qualify, students must come from a low- or middle-income family and a public school district deemed to be academically failing by the state's measures.
The Associated Press reports the court ruled the program is constitutional because private schools don't get the tax credits. The justices also said the way the Republican lawmakers approved the bill—by tacking the measure onto another piece of legislation and quickly voting on it—was also legal. A circuit court judge had ruled in May that the law was not constitutional, according to AL.com.
GOP lawmakers are pushing ahead with other school-choice legislation this session, which is also opposed by the state's teachers' union, that would allow for the creation the state's first charter schools. Senate Republicans have said they plan to fast-track that legislation, according to the AP, but the Alabama Education Association has helped blocked previous efforts to do so.
Alabama is one of only eight states in the country that doesn't allow charter schools, but several charter school advocates at both the state and national level expect Alabama to pass a charter bill this year.