Education Reform Bills to be Introduced to WI Legislature

Bills to reform Wisconsin’s public schools will be introduced this month in both houses of the Legislature. Governor Scott Walker outlined the measures yesterday at a convention of school board members and district officials in Milwaukee. The state would set up its own system to make schools accountable, replacing parts of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. There would also be a tougher licensing exam for teachers, new requirements for elementary instructors, and a system to evaluate teachers-and-principals. Each school would have its own screener to determine how much incoming kindergarteners have learned. And Walker said the state would pay for those positions. The proposals came from the governor’s Read-to-Lead task force and

two other groups dealing with effective educators and school accountability. State Superintendent Tony Evers said he was never consulted on the fine points of the new bills, even though he served on two of the three task forces. But Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says the Department of Public Instruction has been briefed on the measures – and Evers will be consulted. He said the heads of the Assembly and Senate education committees, Republicans Steve Kestell and Luther Olsen, would write the bills. Werwie says the total costs have yet to be determined. Mary Bell, head of the state’s largest teachers’ union, said her group was involved in one of the task forces but was never consulted on the bills. And she feared that the details would conflict with what Walker highlights in public, quote, “as with many things” during his time as governor.