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Your Views: Republican plan for Wisconsin schools lacks public control, scrutiny

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February 17, 2014

An agreed-upon system to treat the accountability of public and private schools similarly has vanished. In its place, a proposal crafted behind closed doors has emerged. The new proposal allows private schools to choose their own assessments and select which students to test. Public schools would be required to uniformly test all students. It includes a provision that 5 percent of public, charter or private voucher schools be given a failing grade based on test scores.

 The proposal, subject to change, declares that public schools with low test scores for three years would be closed or taken over by a private charter management company under a five-year contract. The management company would not be beholden to the locally elected school board. A Milwaukee public school that failed just one year could be turned over to a private charter operator.

Failing private voucher schools would experience minimal consequences but could remain operational for many years before a closure would be mandated. This paves the way to gradually close more and more public schools and turn them over to independent private charter operators.

This creates an education system in which funds are withdrawn from public oversight to subsidize privately managed schools. Educational decisions will be in the hands of corporate executives, not local school boards. This is the system Gov. Walker and the Republican legislators propose for education in Wisconsin, replacing local management of public education with a privatized system devoid of public control and scrutiny.

JERRY HANSON

Elkhorn



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