On Wednesday, the Parental Rights in Children's Education (PRICE) Act (SB202) got its first public hearing, which came before the Senate Education Committee, chaired by State Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva).
However, after public comment, the bill was referred to the Education Trust Fund Budget Committee by Chesteen, which was considered by some to be a minor setback for this year's effort for meaningful school choice legislation.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" later on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, a pro-school choice advocate, likened the process to the so-called "Free the Hops" effort, which, in part, led to the growth in the number of craft beer breweries in Alabama. The effort took many years but eventually succeeded.
He urged supporters not to be discouraged by setbacks during the legislative process.
"I think back to — a lot of small breweries in our state, right?" he said. "The first time that bill got brought up, it got smashed. I think it was Speaker [Mac] McCutcheon brought it up when he was a legislator before he was Speaker. It ended up passing. Now we've got all these different breweries in our state that are coming up. So, I don't want people to get discouraged because we're going to get school choice in Alabama. Hopefully, it is this year. But if not, we're going to keep pushing because it is the right thing to do."
"It all comes down to choice and competition," Ainsworth added. "I mean, who is going to be against that? Maybe the teachers' union. But why? It's about control, and it's not about what's best for the student. Now if they came to me and said I want what's best for the student outcomes, it's about control. So we've got to bust that monopoly up and let the parents and the children win."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.