Senate passes school accountability bill, but Assembly wants mor - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Senate passes school accountability bill, but Assembly wants more

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) says he wrote a comprehensive school accountability bill like the one Governor Scott Walker wanted to see, but he simply couldn't get enough support for it.

That's why the Senate passed a watered-down version of that original bill on Tuesday..
Senate Republicans say the amended version may not be perfect, but it is important.

"The public schools, choice schools and charter schools would all have to take the statewide test and would be put on the report card.  That's a huge step in the right direction," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

"So we can finally shine the light on what's happening in all the schools, especially the choice ones," added Sen. Olsen.

Report card scores for all Wisconsin schools would have to start being reported in the 2015-16 school year.   But even most of the Senate Democrats who voted in favor of the bill say it doesn't go far enough to hold voucher schools accountable.

"It doesn't meet the demands of what our Governor asked for.  It doesn't meet what the citizens of the state have been asking for," said Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).

And Republican Assembly leaders won't accept the fact that a more expansive bill can't pass that full legislature.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) believes both voucher schools that are failing taxpayer-funded students and failing public schools need to face sanctions.

"I think that the idea of having some sort of situation where we take those schools who are failing their kids and say that it's not enough just to tell people they're failing, we've got to have a plan to turn it around," said Rep. Vos.

But Sen. Olsen says the idea of placing sanctions on public schools, which could include closing some of them, is a difficult sell for some Republican Senators.

"You either shut it down, start from scratch, or you have a charter school come in here and run the thing, but those things are only 50 percent successful either," said Sen. Olsen.

"Hopefully we can find consensus," said Rep. Vos.  "I think our position is right, but ultimately, as some of our colleagues have said here today, you negotiate what you can get and hopefully those will be included."

On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Education will proceed with its second public hearing in two weeks on its own version of the school accountability bill.  
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