Former Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan says it's high time Republicans unite and fight for school choice. Lathan created ROAM, or Republicans on a Mission, to show up and show out in Montgomery. The group of activists and volunteers consists of Republicans from all over the state.

"It is to support our Republican legislators to say, 'we're with you; this is a creative, bold move," Lathan explained. "If you want to reimagine education like we all talk about, then let's do it."

Lathan hopes her nearly 200 members can commit to either going to Montgomery or contacting lawmakers about the Parental Rights in Children's Education (PRICE) Act

"It came upon my heart and my head this fall," she remembered. "I actually had a knee replacement, and I don't know if it was God or my boredom or both, but I started thinking about school choice."

Lathan said she has seen other states change their policies and allow school choice, and she doesn't see why Alabama can't do the same.

"COVID put a big spotlight on schools and issues, no question," she continued. "And now we have people across the nation standing up – liberals – saying, 'y'all sit down and be quiet, we're going to run these schools, and y'all don't know what you're talking about attitude,' has flipped the script and parents are upset and they should be. They know what's best for their children."

As a former educator herself, Lathan said parental school choice would remove the geography factor for students.

"Many people are locked in by zip code," she said. "We should not educate children through a zip code. We don't do everything else through a zip code in our lives."

The PRICE bill, which Lathan calls the gold standard for universal school choice, is modeled after Arizona's bill.

"That is true freedom," Lathan said. "This is family freedom with family funds, and no government or agency or myself as an educator knows what's best for children except themselves and we should give them that opportunity … It's true freedom."

Parents take only state dollars with them to the school of their choice under the PRICE Act. That would be around $6,366 per child. The school would keep federal and local funding of an average of $5,000.

"It is a false narrative that the schools' lose' money because keeping $5,000 for a student who isn't there and pulls zero dollar needs is positive for the school," Lathan said.

Others have been concerned that teachers will lose their positions if enough students leave a certain school. Lathan has a counterargument for that.

"I'm a former teacher," she said. "I get people need jobs. But education is about educating the student. It's not supposed to be a job creation program. I am a huge teacher advocate. They are warriors, they are angels on earth, but that's not the point here. The point is, let the parent decide if the school meets the needs of their child."

Lathan said for now, ROAM's focus will be on getting into Montgomery and showing how much Republicans care about education.

"My understanding is that AEA has about 45 paid lobbyists, and they will do everything they can to stop this," said Lathan. "But if our party folks are not sitting in the committee hearings and let our legislators know, if we're not sitting there, the lobbyist are sitting there. I have seen that happen too many times, and so I just feel very strongly that it's time for us to show up and be helpful. I like to think of it like we're the cavalry."

ROAM will continue to choose issues to look into each year. Lathan said it all depends on the actions of the legislators. For more information on ROAM, email

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