Defend Public Education - Email Your State Legislators
It is no secret that the powers that be in the state legislature and the governor's office seek to radically alter public education as we have known it in Wisconsin. The first volley in the new legislative session comes in the form of Assembly Bill 549 - a bill to expand privately run charter schools across Wisconsin with resources meant for public schools.AB549 is scheduled for a public hearing before the Committee on Urban Education on Thursday, Jan. 9. Even if you can't be there, you can register your opposition and disgust to your legislators and the committee by visiting WEAC's Action Alert Website.The clear intent of AB549 is to rapidly expand privately run charter schools at the expense of public schools. These schools are not accountable to communities and their locally elected school boards. They are not staffed by school district employees. Ample research on privately run charter schools shows that they do not perform as well as public schools that serve the same students. The basic facts about privately run charter schools are:
1) They can set the number of slots for students. Unlike our public schools, they are not required to serve all children. They have no obligation to take students on in the middle of a school year.
2) They can set behavioral and academic standards that promote the exclusion of certain students. Gaming the system by "cherry picking" and "shedding" students is how many "high performing" charter operators boost their test scores and claim success.
3) They deprive families and communities of important rights like due process for expulsions, services for special needs students, local election of school governance and open records/meetings requirements.Please take a minute to email your state legislators urging them to oppose AB 549 and further expansion of unaccountable, privately run charter schools.More Background from the Institute for Wisconsin's FutureWisconsin's public schools are the heart of every community in our state and the best way possible to give all children a shot at a world-class education. AB549 chokes off the flow of blood to that heart by taking power out of the hands of locally elected school boards, spreading for-profit schools across the state, and doing it with resources meant for our public school children.AB549 is bad for our children, bad for our public schools, and bad for the way of life we call Wisconsin. Tell the members of the Committee that public education works, we need to reinvest in our world-class public schools, and they should protect the local control that has worked in our communities for well over a century.AB549 expands charter schools not controlled by local school districts. The expansion of independent charters and other so-called education reforms have been made a priority by Assembly speaker Robin Vos, who said bills will be included in the session that begins soon .... a session Vos said he wants to end by March.That could explain why the bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Urban Education instead of the "regular" education committee where it would probably receive more consideration and thoughtful discussion. It is also, oddly, the only bill assigned to the committee (a group that has only came into existence recently).The main sponsors, a pair of legislators who have authored more than their share of anti-public education bills, are Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Dale Kooyenga.According to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), AB549 makes possible a statewide expansion of independent charter schools and makes it possible for students in any district to attend an independent charter school located anywhere in the state.If adopted, this legislation would allow the University of Wisconsin System schools (two-year and four-year campuses) and technical colleges to authorize independent charter schools in the county in which they are located or an adjacent county. It allows cooperative educational service agencies (CESA's) to authorize independent charters within their boundaries.Perhaps most importantly in the short-run, AB549 has profound and negative school-funding implications. Under the bill, per-pupil payments for all of these new "schools" would come from a reduction in general aid paid to every public school district in the state. Currently, that would be about $64 million statewide that will only grow if this bill is passed.Our public schools are part of every community in the state. Their job is to make sure every child has the opportunity for a world-class education. Our job, through our elected officials, is to make sure that those communities have the resources to deliver those opportunities.Instead, with bills like AB549 state government is trying to defund and destroy what has worked so well for all of us. You need to tell your legislators you expect their vote to uphold public education as a value we all hold dear ... and that you will hold them accountable for doing just that.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014