Alabama’s candidate for governor is attacking school choice by accusing the local charter school in question of “exploiting children” and taking taxpayer money.
This is a different case. The majority of the time, Democratic politicians attack school choice on behalf of their supporters from public school teachers unions. But in this case, the candidate—Tim James—is a Republican who is attempting to primary Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.
Alabama’s Republican Party voted for a resolution in support of school choice in February. James’ position might seem odd until you look at the school James is targeting. James attacks Magic City Acceptance Academy in Birmingham, a charter school that is LGBT-friendly and serves approximately 240 students. It is funded and approved by Alabama.
“Gov. Ivey appointed to the AL Public Charter School Commission-funded Magic City Acceptance Academy [with] $2 [million]James tweeted. “The Buck stops here [with]Governor. Tim James, governor of Massachusetts would have opposed this school’s formation and would have vetoed all budgets that would have funded it.
James used the expression “these are” OurTax dollars,” is a popular argument made by supporters of school choice vouchers. It acts like parents who would like to send their children at Magic City Acceptance Academy to school aren’t taxpayers. They shouldn’t be allowed to determine the school’s curriculum.
James’ 30-second advertisement attacking Magic City Acceptance Academy doesn’t claim students are receiving a substandard education, or that money was wasted. The argument seems to be that all the faculty did was put on a drag performance once and that’s that. The ad plays into current anti-trans panic (naming trans swimmer Lia Thomas, and noting Ketanji Jackson’s inability to define what a woman looks like during Senate hearings to nominate her to the Supreme Court), but the argument really is that the school corrupts kids.
Again, though, there is no evidence in the advertisement. Principal Michael Wilson later explained that the single drag show was just one example of a fundraiser suggested by students.
This is a group of families and students that want to go to Magic City. These people don’t need to. They are not being exploited. If parents don’t like the curriculum, they can just leave—something you can’t really say about public schools.
James’ attack seems like a attention-seeking stunt. He is already well into the weeds. According to polling, Ivey holds a strong lead in the primary. She has more than 60% of likely Republican vote. James will not be able to vote if she receives at least half of the votes.
To threaten to veto a budget for money going to schools that teach things you do not agree with is a joke on school choice. Attacks like this can raise doubts as to whether Republicans or conservatives really support school choice.