For the third time, the State’s Charter School Commission denied the application of the Magic City Acceptance Academy. The denial wasn’t an outright no to the state’s gay community; it was by abstention, as some members of the commission voted yes and some voted no but others chose to not simply vote.
To me, that’s the greater travesty. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand there are times as a board member (I’ve had experience serving on multiple boards) where you need to separate yourself from the vote and I don’t claim to know these people’s life stories.
However it seems kind of, I don't know, sketchy, when a controversial topic such as LGBTQ education is brought to the fore and members of the commission simply noped out of voting.
Quoting my favorite moose-riding president Teddy Roosevelt: “In any moment of
decision the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Here’s the backstory.
The Alabama Charter School Commission was created as an independent state agency in 2015 by legislative action with the charge to “authorize high quality public charter schools, in accordance with the powers conferred on the Commission in the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act.”
Now, moving forward, according to AL.com: “The commission first rejected the school in May. The commission again on Sept. 10 voted on the charter, but that time four commissioners abstained, three voted yes, and one voted no. The application did not pass due to the abstentions. It was the first time since the commission was created in 2015 where more than one commissioner had abstained during a vote on a charter application.
The state committee revisited the application a third time on (Sept. 17], where it lost after the abstention was added to the three ‘no’ votes, effectively equaling the four ‘yes’ votes and killing the application’s approval.”
Paraphrasing rapper 21 Savage: “When you make certain decisions, you know certain things gon’ happen.”
So the easiest thing to do, when confronted with a hard decision, is to simply not make the decision. Choosing to not make a decision is a cowardly act in and of itself and leaves that person looking weak and unprepared for the next tough decision that has to be made.
Aaron Tippin — and for those keeping track, I’ve quoted Roosevelt, 21 Savage and now Aaron Tippin in the same column — said “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. You’ve got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string …”
Marla Green — the sole ‘no’ vote during the Sept. 10 meeting — likened hers to a vote against MCAA becoming a chartered private school.
“When you go there,” Green said and according to AL.com, “to me that’s segregation. We’re a public charter school commission. We’re supposed to be a melting pot.
“You can choose to be segregated,” she added, “but that means private.”
Just because these schools are state funded doesn’t not give them relief from being private.
A private school, by definition, is a school supported by a private organization or
individual and not the government.
The idea of a charter school not being private, to me, is interesting. After listening to the debate on the founding of the charter school commission five years ago, it was clear the agency was created as an alternative for those who were dissatisfied with their area’s public schools; which would make the charter school, by virtue of being able to cherry pick their student body, a private school.
So — discounting the legalese definition — charter schools are private as they are selective about who they choose to admit.
But, I don’t want to get into the semantics of a private vs. public education or even the fact the MCAA could have been a huge step forward for both the state and the LGBTQ community within.
What’s frustrating is the way the vote was handled.
Yes or no, make your choice. Don’t simply let something wither on the vine. That’s like ghosting out of a relationship.
Unfortunately though, because of this commission’s non-decisionary decision, LGBTQ youths, parents and allies will continue to suffer the unnecessary slings and arrows until they can be brought before the commission again, where it will for the third time have the best assembled organizational package and be scored the highest of those seeking approval.
It’s up to the commission, again.
Quoting Jigsaw from the “Saw” franchise: “make your choice.”
It’s that simple.
Griffin Pritchard is a Tallassee resident and weekly columnist for The Tribune.