AEA’s Statement Regarding the Rejection of I Dream Big Academy in Montgomery

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By Gumptown Magazine Staff

Montgomery, AL– The Alabama Education Association (AEA) applauds today’s decision of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission to reject the appeal of “I Dream Big Academy” (IDBA) to open a charter school in Montgomery over the objection of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

As proponents of the charter school went through their presentation, it became increasingly clear that, like the Woodland Prep debacle in Washington County, it was nothing but a real estate development scheme disguised as a charter school. Virtually all of the “revenue” touted by the school’s backers was really debt to an out-of-state, for-profit, finance company. It was clear that the finance company backing the venture would profit, and that the construction company lined up for the project would prosper – but there was nothing to show how this would provide value for local taxpayers.

AEA President Sherry Tucker said, “AEA supports good charter schools and opposes bad charter schools. Experience from other states shows charter schools, at their core, are real estate and construction deals turned into bad schools. We are glad the overwhelming majority of the Commission saw this and stopped the proposal.”

AEA Executive Director Amy Hubbard Marlowe said, “In the current legislative session, bills were introduced to help charter schools’ finances and the construction industry. The same bills would have given the Commission a financial incentive to approve bad charter schools like the one considered today. AEA successfully advocated to stop those bills because we will always stand up for community schools and to prevent education funds being siphoned to out-of-state corporate interests.”

AEA Associate Executive Director Theron Stokes added, “The Montgomery County Board of Education saw what the Commission saw – that starting a school $10 million in the hole, as the backers of IDBA proposed, was not a good idea. I’m gratified that we will not have another Woodland Prep trying to open in Montgomery.”

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