Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

February 3, 2014

Wisconsin Organizations Oppose Accountability Bill SB-286

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 5:14 pm

“The legislation being considered by the Senate Education Committee is a far cry from what needs to be done to ensure that all schools receiving taxpayer money meet important standards,” said Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “This bill has gone through several revisions that have fundamentally changed its meaning, and if passed, the results would be devastating for Wisconsin’s public schools and students.” 

As independent Wisconsin business owners, we recognize that public schools are the heart of our communities. We feel a responsibility to stand up for our employees, their families, and the schools that ensure a bright future for our state. We adamantly oppose Senate Bill 286. If passed, it would require that five percent of the schools in Wisconsin be identified as “failing” every year — whether they are failing or not. Those schools could be closed and the children sent to for-profit, unaccountable charter schools. 

We need an environment that allows us to stay focused on what’s most important and do it extremely well. Rather than support educators in doing their best work for our children, this bill would arbitrarily label schools as failing, provide preferential treatment for voucher schools and take improvement tools away from local districts. 

It is imperative that Wisconsin develop one standard set of criteria by which all schools receiving public funds must be measured – not radically different standards for traditional public and voucher schools as is in the current bill. 

  • WASB. Response to Senator Farrow’s request for input on school accountability.  

Unfortunately, each new version of the bill strays farther and farther away from the Design Team’s agreed upon principles, such as treating all taxpayer-funded schools equally. These changes make it impossible for the WASB to support the bill. I’m confused why fashioning a bill that protects taxpayers, informs parents and brings real accountability to all schools receiving taxpayer funds has become so problematic. This should be simple. 

  • WEAC. Input on SB-286.  

This bill took a smoke-and-mirrors approach to real accountability for voucher schools. Essentially, it allowed voucher schools – even those that are overwhelmingly funded with taxpayer dollars – to choose whatever assessments they want for their report cards and choose whichever students they want to in those reports. This is blatantly unjust and unwise.

  • DPI Supt. Evers. Letter to School and District Accountability Design Team regarding SB-286.  

Attempting to equate test results in a high-stake accountability system with serious sanctions is a dubious idea at best. Variations in test content, timelines, administration methods, security, and student populations makes consistent apples-to-apples comparisons almost impossible.

The bottom line is that all report cards must be based off the same data, and calculated in the same way, for all schools to ensure fairness and maintain confidences in the system. 

We were very disappointed to see that draft six of the substitute amendment fails the “fairness test” as embodied in condition #2 above. Draft six would allow voucher schools to choose whatever assessment they want for their report card and count whichever students they desire. Also, the draft’s timeline for sanctioning the lowest performing schools provides preferential treatment for voucher schools.


1 Comment »

  1. And still nothing from the Milwaukee School Board……

    Comment by Labitokov — February 11, 2014 @ 8:06 am | Reply

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