The Alabama Education Association was once the unquestioned power in the Alabama statehouse. But that's changed since Republicans won a supermajority in the House and Senate in 2010.
Lawmakers around the country have made significant changes to teacher tenure, expanded charter schools and introduced different versions of voucher programs. But in Alabama, these kinds of changes have been part of a political upheaval not seen in most states.
The Alabama Supreme Court has given the Alabama Education Association until Monday to respond to an effort by Republican legislators to get a private school tax credit legislation signed.
AEA got a Montgomery judge to issue a temporary restraining order barring the governor from signing the bill into law. Attorneys for Republican legislative leaders appealed to the Supreme Court and asked the court to lift the judge's order. The Supreme Court on Friday gave AEA's lawyers until Monday to respond.
A judge plans to rule Wednesday on whether the governor can sign into law a bill providing private school tax credits.
Gov. Robert Bentley had planned to sign the bill Tuesday afternoon, but Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Charles Price temporarily put that on hold while he considers a lawsuit filed by the Alabama Education Association.
Price heard arguments Tuesday afternoon on whether the Legislature violated Alabama's open meeting law and its own operating rules in passing the bill in a series of quick votes Thursday night.
The Alabama House and Senate are divided over whether a school flexibility bill should include flexibility with teacher tenure laws.
The House passed a bill Feb. 14 to allow city and county school systems to have flexibility in complying with state education laws, including tenure. The Senate rewrote the bill Thursday to exclude tenure. The House refused to go along with the Senate's changes and sent the bill to a six-member conference committee to try working out the differences.
The Alabama Legislature is considering a bill that would give local school systems more flexibility in determining their rules and regulations.
The bill is opposed by the Alabama Education Association. AEA officials are concerned it could allow some local systems to strip rights away from teachers. They see it as a possible back-door approach to creating public/private charter schools in Alabama.
The Alabama House Education Policy Committee has approved a bill to give local school systems the ability to waive certain regulations or requirements.
The committee voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of the measure by Rep. Chad Fincher, R- Semmes.
Supporters, including state schools Superintendent Tommy Bice, told lawmakers that research has shown reducing rules and regulations can increase creativity in the classroom. Bice called the bill a vote of confidence in teachers and school leaders.
Alabama Education Association plans to lobby to get teachers a 10 percent raise over the next two years if the money is available.
AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry says it would be the first pay raise for teachers in five years. Mabry says inflation is hurting teacher incomes and good salaries help attract strong teachers and other personnel.
AEA estimates the average teacher makes about $48,000 per year. School support personnel, who would be included in the raise request, make about $16,000.