Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Alabama Voters, Leaders Have Case of Tax-a-Phobia

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Alabama Voters, Leaders Have Case of Tax-a-Phobia

Article excerpt

A few years ago, I met a woman with a controversial theory. She had discussed it with college classes across the nation.

In state after state, students had asked her sharp questions. Some of them made her squirm. Her answers weren't always well received and, invariably, there was a lot of discussion after she finished talking.

But not in Alabama.

Students here listened politely, though some seemed to be doodling and others glancing furtively at their watches. When she finished talking, nobody asked questions.

Why?, she wanted to know. Questions and disagreements are essential to learning. Students in other states weren't being disrespectful. They just wanted to learn. What made the Alabama students different?

It's easy to blame the Legislature, which notoriously underfunds public education. State teachers have struggled for years to disprove the axiom that you get what you pay for.

Alabama is far below the national average in spending per pupil; it ranks down at 37 among the states and the District of Columbia.

The Legislature just lurched to a close of its regular session, passing a school budget on the final day that will spend $208 million less than this year's scarecrow school allotment.

That means that K-12 schools, community colleges and four-year universities will get some 3.6 percent chopped off their 2012-13 budgets, as compared to this school year.

This year's budget was paltry, but schools don't need more money next year, according to the legislators. The budget they approved will cause a loss of some 200 teacher and support positions, but a smaller number of students are expected next school year.

That makes it OK.

To be sure, some of the students may not have textbooks -- the state allotment is way below retail prices -- but that kind of collateral damage doesn't faze the lawmakers. Neither does the lack of instructional materials, the relatively low salaries for educators or, in many cases, the substandard facilities at public schools. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.