Earlier this year, outgoing State Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) brought what he deemed the "mother of all school choice bills," formally called the Parent's Choice Act.
The legislation would have created so-called education savings accounts that would have followed students to the schools of their parents' choice.
The effort received tepid support from some of Marsh's Republican colleagues and fierce resistance from the Alabama Education Association (AEA), the teachers' union.
Despite passage by the Senate Education Policy Committee, Marsh's bill was assigned to a study group and never gained traction during the remainder of the 2022 legislative session.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on "Rightside Radio," Marsh told host Phil Williams, his former state senate colleague, that he viewed his school choice push as his "one failure." He was also critical of his Republican colleagues, who he said were "under the influence" of the AEA.
"[I] will tell you this – I look at my one failure in the legislature that is not able to bring true parents' choice to the people of this state," Marsh said. "I will argue that Alabama, on paper, it should be one of the most conservative states and probably is one of the most conservative states in the country. And I can't believe the parents don't care. I refuse to believe that. But we have been last too long.
"It is time for us to open this up for choice for parents and to have a Republican-controlled state legislature – it is criminal, in my opinion, that they don't make it a priority to give parents a choice. And the only reason it doesn't happen – and I'm sorry, I love my colleagues – but the only reason it's not happening is because of the influence of the Alabama Education Association and the pressure they put. And it should not be happening."
According to the Calhoun County Republican lawmaker, school choice would improve teachers' circumstances, proclaiming the plan's free-market aspects superior to those offered by the teachers' union.
"And I will even take it a step further – teachers who are listening, you will be better off in a free-market system,” Marsh said. “Teachers, at the end of the day, making more money in the free market than where they are today under union control.
"We need a free market in education, and the citizens of this state need to call your legislators and put the pressure on them.”
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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