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Assembly School Accountability Plan Includes Sanctions For Struggling Schools

Competing Senate Measure Removed Punitive Measures

Courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature

Assembly Republicans are moving ahead with plans to sanction failing Wisconsin public schools.

Assembly Education Committee Chairman Jeremy Thiesfeldt released the latest proposal Tuesday morning and scheduled a vote on it for Thursday. The full Assembly could take it up later this month.

The proposal would impose sanctions on public schools that receive a D or F on school report cards for at least six years starting with the 2016-2017 academic year.

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After three years, the school board would be required to either convert the public school into an independent charter school, reorganize the school or contract with an educating management agency for at least five years.

Private voucher schools that repeatedly get low grades would not be able to accept new students under the school choice program for four years.

Private schools with fewer than 20 students receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers would be exempt.

Democrats like Rep. Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee said the proposal was too much, too fast. They asked Thiesfeldt to hold off and schedule a public hearing.

“I’m sorry if you don’t want to sit through a 12-hour hearing, but this is something that really changes our educational landscape,” said Sinicki.

The Assembly proposal contrasts with the state Senate’s approach to school accountability. That chamber’s education committee passed a comparatively tamer bill last month that didn’t include sanctions or letter grades for schools.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald expressed doubt that any legislation with sanctions would make it through the full Assembly and Senate chambers this session.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the sanctions in the bill would take effect if schools received failing grades for three years. The correct period is six years. The story has been updated.