Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Compromise reached on virtual schools

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Over 1100 students, parents and educators have to be feeling pretty good about their field trip to Madison. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting a compromise has been reached to keep virtual schools open.

Virtual schools would remain open under new regulations meant to ensure quality in a compromise announced by Wisconsin lawmakers on Thursday.

The breakthrough potentially resolves an emotional debate over online education that has been watched closely in national education circles. A court ruling and a stalemate in the Legislature had threatened to close a dozen Wisconsin schools starting as early as next school year.

The compromise rejects a Democratic plan that would have cut the schools’ funding in half. Instead, they would continue to get nearly $6,000 for each open-enrollment student.

“Allowing parents to choose virtual schools helps keep Wisconsin a national leader in education policy,” said Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, chair of the Assembly education committee.

Lawmakers said they hoped the plan would be approved in coming weeks and signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle, who told reporters he was waiting for the plan’s details but predicted he could support it.

Democrats in retreat:

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, said those measures would ensure quality instruction and increase accountability.

“We will have a strong operation for those individuals that choose virtual instruction,” he said.

Lehman had initially proposed cutting state aid for the schools in half, arguing a Virginia company was making too much money selling curricula to districts. But he said testimony at public hearings last week showed the current state aid was reasonable.

Reaction from the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families:

Rose Fernandez, President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families said the following today, after hearing of a breakthrough in legislative negotiations over a plan to rescue the state’s online public charter schools.

“This is very encouraging news. While we await review of the legislative language, we certainly embrace the main points outlined by the brokers of the compromise. More than 1,100 came to the Capitol last week to have our voices heard and it would seem the lawmakers listened. We hope this surge in support of online public charter schools receives the blessings of legislative leadership, that this deal is not altered, and that we can move forward, together. The Governor’s calls for bipartisanship have been heeded on this urgent issue, and thousands of children and families sincerely hope that he will embrace this important compromise and sign it into law. The futures of more than 3,000 kids hang in the balance.”

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