Proposed Wisconsin Legislation May Expand Charter Schools, Reduce Teacher Licensing Requirements
Two last-minute additions to a bill in the Wisconsin state legislature that would reduce funding to universities would also have significant impact on K-12 education.
Last-minute additions to a
bill that would cut funding to
Wisconsin state universities would allow the licensing of charter
throughout Wisconsin and reduce the requirements for being licensed as a
teacher in the state’s public schools.
The two provisions were added to the bill to reduce
Wisconsin universities by $250 million in a motion made during a meeting
Legislative Joint Finance Committee held May 29. The highly
controversial omnibus funding bill still must be approved in votes,
the week of June 1, by both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature
signed by Gov. Scott Walker.
If passed as is, the bill would give the authority to
charter schools to a wide range of agencies, depending on their location
state. At the moment, Wisconsin state law only allows a limited number
private charter schools in the Milwaukee area.
The new law would give the authority to approve
schools to a new Office of Educational Opportunity that would be
the University of Wisconsin system, the Waukesha County executive,
by the state’s Indian tribes and a technical college district board in
southwestern part of the state.
The bill would also divert the average per-pupil
of $7,200 for K-8 schools and $7,800 for high schools from school
the charter schools for those students who transfer to them. A memo
the Democratic members of the state legislature claimed the changes
a reduction of $800 million in state funding to public school districts
the next 10 years. However, Jim Bender, president of School
called the memo “speculative.”
The second controversial provision of the funding
give school administrators the authority to hire teachers that have
degrees but no state teaching license to teach English, math, social
science in the sixth through 12th grades. It would give those
the authority to hire anyone they wish – regardless of whether they have
license or degree – to teach non-core academic subjects.
The legislator who introduced the bill, Republican State
Mary Czaja, said it was part of an effort to help rural school
may have trouble attracting qualified teachers. However, in a statement,
Superintendent Tony Evers said the move would make all teacher
“It essentially takes the licensing system out of the
hands and puts in in 424 school districts’ hands,” Evers said.
The two proposals, along with many others, are part
Walker’s campaign to reduce university funding and eliminate tenure for
professors. During last week’s debates in the state legislature, Walker
New Hampshire preparing for what is expected to be an imminent
that he is running for the Republican nomination for president.
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.