Gubernatorial candidate Dean Odle on Thursday unveiled his plan to expand parental choice in Alabama.

“My opponents give lip service to school choice because it has become popular, but none of them have put forth a plan that goes far enough to truly transform Alabama’s K-12 education disaster,” Odle said.

Odle's plan was developed with the help of his brother, who is a public school teacher. He said he wants to go a step further than Florida did when it improved its national rankings.

“In 2017, Florida ranked 29th in K-12 education," Odle said. "Gov. [Ron] DeSantis came into office and removed Obama’s Common Core curriculum. Then, the Florida legislature expanded eligibility for their school choice programs to include 56% of their K-12 students. Those two things helped Florida go from 29th in K-12 to 3rd by 2021."

Odle is proposing a voucher system for education and dismissed tax credits and public charter schools as half measures that will not bring real competition to education in the state.

The legislature did not act on State Sen. Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) Parents Choice Act bill during the last regular session.

Odle said that that legislation did not go far enough.

“It did not go far enough with the amount of the voucher, and it did not prevent government meddling,” Odle said. “In fact, it was actually another expansion of government and a sneaky attempt to allow them to get their corrupt fingers into private schools, religious schools, and even homeschooling...A Dean Odle administration will go all-in on fixing our broken education system by getting the government out of the K-12 education business because the government has failed miserably.”

Alabama is ranked 47th overall and 52nd in math, in the nation. Odle wants to remove Common Core and replace it with a "no-strings attached school voucher program."

“That means no central state or federal government control over schools," Odle said. "Instead of the existing school boards, there will be parent boards in each school. Those parent boards will consist of parents (elected by the other parents) that have children in the school, and they will have authority to hold the school administration and teachers accountable.”

Odle said that due to the teacher shortage in the state, he would “get all of the nonessential things off of teachers' backs.”

Odle promised to bring discipline back to the schools.

“State and county government systems force teachers to deal with terrible disruptive behavior,” Odle said. “Not one student should ever be allowed to steal a quality learning environment.  

“Job skills, vocational skills should be placed in 8th-12th education. We need partnerships between businesses and education.”

Odle is a pastor in Lee County. He has been outspoken in his views against the COVID-19 vaccine and on other topics including his skepticism of space travel.

Lindy Blanchard, Lew Burdette, Stacy George, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Donald Trent Jones, Odle, Dave Thomas, and Dean Young are all running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Yolanda Rochelle Flowers, Patricia Salter Jamieson, Arthur Kennedy, Chad “Chig” Martin, Malika Sanders Fortier and Doug “New Blue” Smith are all running for nomination in the Democratic primary.

Both primaries are on May 24.

The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election on Nov. 8.

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