Senate Passes Scaled-Back School Accountability Bill

Revised Bill, Stripped Of 'Ambitious Agenda,' Now Moves Up Date For When Voucher Schools Must Join School Report Card System

Sen. John Lehman, speaking on the Senate floor, said that while he supported the bill, it did not in of itself provide voucher school accountability. Photo: State of Wisconsin.

The state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday moving up the date when all schools receiving public funds must use the same accountability system to report test scores and other information.

Sen. Luther Olsen, who sponsored the bill, said that while the legislation initially had an “ambitious agenda” that included consequences for schools not meeting the grade, he doesn’t think there’s enough support to pass a broader piece of legislation.

“It’s not the monumental thing we wanted to move forward,” said Olsen. “This is a big step forward – holding all schools who have children that are paid by public dollars into a report card so that we can look and see what they are doing.”

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The bill that passed the Senate moves the date when publicly funded private voucher schools have to be in the school report card system from 2020 to next year.

Critics, however, are disappointed because the bill does not have any consequences for poor-performing schools. Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, said he worries people are going to sell it as an accountability bill when it’s not.

“This is not voucher accountability, and anybody who says it is, is not staying close to the facts on this bill and this effort,” said Lehman. “I think it’s a bill that we can all support, but don’t use it for something that it is not.”

The bill passed by a 29-to-3 vote.