Members of the Assembly Education Committee heard testimony on Wednesday on a controversial school accountability bill  that would rate publicly funded schools on an A to F scale and force poor-performing public schools to convert to charters.
The measure would also prohibit publicly funded private schools that fail from enrolling any more voucher students.
Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards testified the bill would impose severe sanctions on failing public schools, but would not equally penalize failing voucher schools.
“The school would continue to receive public dollars, there would be no instructional reform required, no requirement to work with an accrediting agency to refine the instructional methods of those students – no requirement of any kind,” said Rossmiller. “The only option for those students would be to vote with their feet.”
Legislators are having difficulty coming up with an accountability bill that pleases both public and private school advocates – and one that can find support in both houses, much less pass out of committee. Rep. Jim Steineke, R- Kaukauna, said it's a difficult task.
“If you're going to try to come up with an answer where everybody walks away from the table and is clapping and cheering about the product that was developed, I don't think you'll ever get anything done,” said Steineke. “Because I think if you're going to be sufficiently tough on those schools that for whatever reason – whether it's staff, whether its administration, or whether its the kids backgrounds that have made it difficult for them to learn – whatever the situation is, we've got to do something.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has indicated there's no support in his chamber for the Assembly version of the accountability bill.