Taylor: Accountability Act is top bill affecting Crenshaw County
By Kelsey Vickers
Special to The Journal
According to Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, the Alabama Accountability Act is the No. 1 thing that the legislators have done this year to make a difference in Crenshaw County.
The bill, signed by Gov. Robert Bentley, is an education bill in which tax credits are given to parents who wish to transfer their children from failing public schools to other private or public schools.
Taylor said that this legislation will give Crenshaw County schools and other school districts greater flexibility to innovate.
“It will give parents greater input into the educational quality, and it will allow school leaders freedom and flexibility to try things to improve their schools, improve the quality of education, improve the services they provide to students, and without a heavy bureaucratic chain coming from Montgomery,” he said.
Taylor said this is the way that ultimately Alabama will improve education.
“Greater control, more parental input, freeing local school leaders to address the unique needs and challenges in the districts and schools systems will be beneficial,” he said.
There are two parts to this bill, according to Taylor.
The first part is school flexibility, which is what gives school leaders the ability to innovate and try new things.
“The second part of that is the school choice part, and the purpose of that is to introduce competition in the accountability in our school systems,” he said.
“If a school has a failing system, they will have to use the flexibility provided by the first part of the bill, to try to improve their schools.
“If they fail to do that, the students who are trapped in those failing schools will finally have a lifeline to go somewhere else and get a high quality education,” he said.
Taylor said that ultimately, the bottom line is that it is all about parental choice.
He said that his family is fortunate to live in an area with pretty good schools, but not everybody is fortunate.
“The quality of education that your children are entitled to shouldn’t depend on your ZIP code,” he said.
“So this bill is designed to give persistently failing schools an opportunity to improve, but if they fail to improve the quality of their schools, we want children and parents to have the option to go somewhere else if possible.”
Regarding the impending state district changes due to reapportionment, Taylor said that Crenshaw County will be in a new district with portions of Montgomery, potentially Pike Road, parts of Elmore County, Wetumpka, and Tallassee, so it will be a big district.
That district is currently being represented by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, so if he runs for reelection he will be campaigning in Crenshaw County.
Taylor said these changes are in effect at next election. Candidates will be running for office in new districts.
When campaign time comes around, Taylor will not be campaigning in Crenshaw County; he will be in the new counties in his district.
He said that although he is disappointed he will not be representing the same counties again, it is not about him; it is about the people whom he will represent.
“I will represent these communities to the best of my abilities,” he said.
“I’ve told the voters in Pike and Crenshaw counties that although I may not be their official senator, if I am reelected, I can continue to be available to them and to work for their interests.”
Troy University journalism student Kelsey Vickers of Ashford, Ala., wrote this story as part of a project partly funded by the Alabama Press Association Journalism Foundation.