Senate Education Committee Passes Scaled Back School Accountability Bill


The State Senate’s education committee has passed a scaled back version of a school accountability bill.

The bill that passed committee today on an 8-1 vote would require private voucher and charter schools to report data on choice students to the Department of Public Instruction for use on annual report cards by 2015. Current law requires that choice schools submit that data by 2020.

The bill does not, however, impose any sanctions on failing private choice or public schools. State Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) said there’s a long list of issues that Democrats have that weren’t addressed.

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“I hope that nobody will go out in public — including the governor — and say this is the accountability bill, because it is not,” Lehman said. “In terms of language on background checks, and meetings of governing bodies, and testing requirements, teacher licensure, open records access, seclusion and restraint laws…”

But the committee chair, state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), disagreed that the bill wasn’t worthy of the title.

“I think — and I will stand by — that this is an accountability bill. It finally holds the schools that have voucher students accountable,” Olsen said. “Now, it doesn’t hold them accountable because there are no consequences, but at least parents can see what is happening in those schools.”

Previous versions of the Republican bill sought to give schools A through F letter grades and would have forced failing public schools to convert to charters. Failing choice schools would have been prohibited from accepting new voucher students.

Efforts to pass a sweeping bill faced significant opposition in the Legislature. Olsen says he hopes to pass a more comprehensive accountability bill someday, but, he says, not this session.

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