Attacks on AEA costly to taxpayers

Civilian casualties are mounting in the state Legislature’s attacks on the Alabama Education Association.

On Wednesday, the casualty was $5 million in textbooks.

The damage to the state is bizarre because the battle is entirely one-sided. This is not a skirmish between political titans. Republicans — who have plenty of legitimate gripes over AEA’s conduct in its glory days — have a super-majority in each house. Every statewide-elected official is Republican.

AEA, which aligned itself with the Democratic Party back in the days when it controlled Montgomery, is powerless to stop the GOP.

Even though school districts are begging for money, the House on Wednesday approved a budget that included $5 million for an employment benefit never before enjoyed by Alabama teachers: liability insurance.

Was this a favor to teachers? Of course not.

Teachers who elect to pay dues to become members of AEA receive liability insurance. The Legislature figured if the state provided the benefit for free, it could drive teachers out of the AEA.

State Rep. Greg Burdine, D-Florence, offered an amendment that would have instead spent the $5 million on textbooks, which are outdated and falling apart in many districts. The amendment was defeated along party lines.

If GOP lawmakers — despite their absolute control over the state — want to spend their campaign war chests attacking the teachers’ organization, more power to them. What they did on Wednesday, though, was spend $5 million in taxes for the sole purpose of political gain.

Legislators can attack AEA all they want. They should not be doing so with tax dollars.

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Filed under Alabama politics, education

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