Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Good news for parents from Madison

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Some good news for parents when it comes to their kids’ education. The legislature in Madison passed a bill loosening up the restrictions on public school choice, making it easier for parents to move their children into different schools.

The legislation, now on its way to the Governor for his signature, will change the process of open enrollment. The law will allow for a freer transfer of students between public schools across districts. This legislation expands the formal application process from a three week span to three months and include provisions for year-round transfers for students that aren’t happy with their current schools.

The sweeping reform comes at the conclusion of National School Choice Week and the new policy is a major victory for educational freedom for parents and schools alike. Families will now have greater options to find the public school that works best for their children.

This will have a significant impact reaching from regular public schools to charter and virtual schools across the state. Along with the labor reforms enacted in 2011, this legislation has the potential to dramatically change the education landscape in Wisconsin. By creating a free market within Wisconsin’s public schools the new law is expected to foster competition between school districts and increase the influence of parents in areas as far reaching as curriculum development and school operations.

Currently, families have a three-week window in the beginning of February during which they can apply to attend a public school other than their local neighborhood school. The resident school board can prevent students from leaving by rejecting their application and informing parents by April.

Parents will now have the ability to apply to up to three districts in an expanded timeline for open enrollment transfers. The application period will now run from the beginning of February to the end of April and families will know whether or not their transfer has been approved by June – in time for the upcoming school year. This means that parents will have a better idea of the options available for their children and in a more timely manner than the previous system.

I previously wrote about this issue for the MacIver Institute last October. The bill is better than I expected back then and is a nice victory for school choice proponents.

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