Thumbs down to GOP leaders in the Alabama Legislature for pulling the old bait-and-switch routine with their school flexibility bill. The measure was billed as a way to authorize the state school superintendent and board to allow school systems to have flexibility in complying with state education laws. A legislative conference committee, however, amended the bill to establish tax breaks and scholarships for people who want to send their children from a "failing" public school to a private school. So, in addition to funding public schools, taxpayers will be helping to send other people's children to private schools.
Thumbs up to the hundreds of students who participated in a peaceful rally Thursday in Montgomery to support lower tuition at state colleges and universities. State officials are fortunate that students are not protesting loudly about the unreasonable rate of tuition hikes in recent years. If this were Europe, thousands of students might be taking to the streets. Participants in the rally included Will Riley, of Tuscumbia, president of the Student Government Association at the University of North Alabama. He said more students are having to delay graduation because they can't afford tuition.
Thumbs down to Regional Medical Center in Anniston for refusing to release financial details of a deal to sell its nonprofit hospital in Jacksonville to a private company. This should sound familiar to readers in the Shoals who followed the TimesDaily's successful court effort to obtain similar records related to the sale of Coffee Health Group. In its fight to obtain records, the Anniston Star cites the Coffee case and the state Supreme Court's ruling that public health care authorities are subject to Alabama's open records law.
Thumbs up and congratulations to the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library on its 10th anniversary in one of the most striking facilities of its kind in north Alabama. The two-story property occupies a city block on Wood Avenue. During the last decade, 45,209 registered patrons have checked out more than 2.5 million materials. The library serves the entire Shoals, with 37 percent of patrons coming from Florence, 37 percent from other parts of Lauderdale County, 12 percent from Colbert County and 4 percent from other counties.