It didn't take long after starting the new session for Wisconsin Republicans to show their priorities. They are already ramming through their first piece of corporate-directed legislation attacking public schools:
Persistently low-performing public schools would be turned into charter schools and state funding would be cut off for problem private schools, under school accountability legislation introduced Wednesday.
The Assembly bill also would let school districts and private schools choose from four tests that measure student performance rather than use the tests selected by the state Department of Public Instruction.
The bill is the first of the 2015-17 legislative session — keeping a promise made by Republican leaders and Gov. Scott Walker, who have said creating new school accountability rules is a top priority.
The Assembly bill repeals current interventions for schools and replaces them with “an academic review system” that would assign letter grades to schools based on student test scores and other measures. The system would be administered by DPI, overseen by an academic review board, and in effect for the 2017-18 school year.
The bill gives persistently low-performing public and private schools seven years to improve before the sanctions kick in. It also would give the board authority to create charter schools.
“The goal of this program, hopefully in six or seven years when the report cards are fully put into place and we’ve had schools go through that improvement program, no school in the state of Wisconsin will be failing,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who said he would like the bill to pass by the end of the month.
DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said the bill diminishes Superintendent Tony Evers’ authority over schools by shifting some supervision to a new board. He said the department is still reviewing the bill.
“It is vital that any proposal to hold schools accountable results in improved outcomes for all children and is constitutionally viable in relation to the state superintendent’s authority to supervise schools,” McCarthy said.
To put it in plain English, the Republicans are setting up public schools - specifically targeting those in Milwaukee - to fail so that they can arbitrarily making them into voucher schools.
The Republicans have already passed legislation forcing the Milwaukee Public Schools to sell off school buildings to religious institutions and private voucher schools. This new bill only helps expediting the selling off of these buildings.
Ironically, the Republicans are claiming that this forced privatization is needed for accountability. The only accountability the Republicans are really worried about is being accountable to the big money special interests that bankroll their campaigns.