What adding charter schools would do for the Tennessee Valley

WAFF 48's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:19 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Governor Kay Ivey is making it clear, she has a vision for better education in Alabama and charter schools play a major role in that vision. They allow parents to choose where they want their child to get an education without having to deal with private school tuition.

However, charter schools are owned by private groups, and that could cause concern about transparency.

The state has 14 charter schools that are funded through the state’s Education Trust Fund. These schools are typically for-profit and can specialize in certain arts or curricula.

William Tunnell with the Alabama Education Association says charter schools can excel.

“Our successful charter schools are competitive and their salaries and their benefits, they’re competitive in the rights they give their employees,” he says. “Some of them look exactly like a traditional public school from an employee’s perspective. And so those are the ones where we’re seeing some some of our better successes.”

However, Tunnell says most charter schools don’t require their teachers to be certified. He says it’s one of the bigger knocks against charter schools.

He says parents would be right to wonder if a for-profit school would re-invest their profits back into their charter school the way a traditional public school would.

“It does leave you wondering, I’m going to see a quality education when I’m actually seeing less go into the classrooms than I do in my traditional public school. You’re going to want to know things about accountability. Who’s watching the money, we’ve seen cases where the State Department’s had to bail out a charter school for mismanagement of funds and so those are all things that have to be considered and every charter is different, so the details matter.”

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