The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) is considering a ban on campaign contributions from the National Education Association (NEA) and the Alabama Education Association (AEA) for its school board and superintendent candidates.
The AEA is a labor union representing Alabama's public school teachers. In May, the organization took responsibility for and celebrated shutting down school choice initiatives that conservative Republicans fought to pass.
During this year's regular legislative session, a Republican-sponsored bill called the PRICE Act (SB202) was not considered by either chamber of the legislature.
The bill would've allowed parents with children in non-public schools to start education savings accounts using state education funds. This way, they could apply those funds to their children's education.
Though ALGOP bylaws only "strongly admonish candidates who accept donations" from the NEA and AEA, as of October 2022, the AEA dumped $1.5 million into last year's election cycle, mostly to Republicans.
The standing rule change, introduced by ALGOP chairman John Wahl, will go up for a vote among party members at the party's 2023 Summer Meeting on Saturday.
Though this particular resolution only bans NEA and AEA donations to candidates for state and county school board and superintendent, Wahl said early last month that he was looking to curb the AEA's influence on Republicans in the Alabama Legislature.
Wahl joined 1819 News Editor and Chief Jeff Poor on FM Talk 1065's "The Jeff Poor Show" on Tuesday to discuss the proposed standing rule.
"We see parents across the country who are struggling to be involved in their child's education," Wahl said. "You have school systems … pushing some of this transgender woke-ism into our classroom, and parents are struggling with that. Parents are struggling with that … We want parents to be in control of the children's education and not any special interest group or education unions that have a different priority than the parent has."
Wahl predicted that the ALGOP would overwhelmingly support the rule.
"I think the party members are going to be very supportive of this," Wahl said. "I think this is something that the party can take a stand on and really be that bold conservative."
The AEA issued the following statement to 1819 News:
"It is irresponsible of ALGOP Chairman John Wahl to make false accusations of the Alabama Education Association's standards and mission."
"The 'A' in AEA stands for Alabama – and we take pride in Alabama’s values. Our voluntary membership comprises almost 90,000 Alabamians, with 72% identifying as conservative Republican voters. AEA prioritizes all education employees working to teach children in Alabama's local schools. Our focus is on education with no partisan perspective or fringe ideologies. We do not feed into the narrative of the baseless culture wars expressed in Wahl’s press release – and we ask that he or other party leaders bring forth any person who has said they have been lobbied by AEA advocating for the concepts referenced in his release."
"Republican leaders have expressed a desire for the party to be focused on the ALGOP’s core values and the upcoming 2024 election. As always, AEA will continue with its primary mission to advocate for all Alabama teachers and educators."
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