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August 2013 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

This month brings another resignation, and as school begins, parents and educators brace for the new list of failing schools.

  • Rep. Jim Barton Resigns: State Representative Jim Barton of Mobile announced his resignation from his House seat to take a job with a Montgomery-based lobbying group. Barton expressed appreciation to those who have supported him over the last 13 years while serving in the Legislature. Prior to his resignation, he served as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means General Fund Committee. Barton’s departure is the latest in a string of high-profile resignations among state elected officials. Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman and Representative Jay Love both resigned last month to take advantage of private sector offers. A few months ago U.S. Representative Jo Bonner announced his resignation from Congress to take a position as vice chancellor of government relations and economic development for the University of Alabama System. Barton, who is the owner of two Mobile-area businesses, thanked House Speaker Mike Hubbard for naming him to the committee chairmanship. Barton is prohibited from lobbying House members for two years, but can immediately lobby Senators.
  • New Failing Schools to Be Announced This Fall:  Alabama will be facing a new list of “failing” schools before the end of the year, as the test scores from last spring are due to be released sometime this fall. The new round of test results will cause the state to recalculate the scores that led to the list of failing schools. Parents at any new failing schools will be eligible for a $3,500 tax credit to help pay for private school in the spring. Since the state does not release the scores of non-failing schools, it is impossible to guess if the state list will grow much longer, as we don’t know how many schools are on the brink of “failing.” Republican lawmakers through the Alabama Accountability Act chose to label as failing any school testing in the bottom 6 percent in reading and math at least three times over the last six years. The state listed 72 schools as “failing” for not meeting the testing standard. A third of those missed the mark for six straight years. That means they have no success to build on and no shot. Those schools will remain on the list for at least four more years no matter how well they score this year.

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