Assembly Republicans voted Thursday to concur on a Senate version of school accountability. There was almost no debate prior to the voice vote Thursday night. Dane County Democrat Sondy Pope was the only lawmaker to speak on the bill. “I do agree that there is much more work to be done, but I remain skeptical of the work product,” she said.
The Senate passed a basic school accountability bill last month, one that many lawmakers conceded was not everything they’d hoped for. The Senate bill would track student performance at schools that receive taxpayer dollars, and require those schools to report to the Department of Public Instruction beginning in 2015. The author of the Assembly version, Representative Jim Steineke, failed to reach a deal on his more comprehensive bill. Steineke’s bill would force action on failing public schools – including the possibility of closing them – and prohibit underperforming private schools from accepting taxpayer subsidized voucher students.
The bill now goes to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Steinke and Republican state Senator Paul Farrow said they’ll put together a working group to tackle a more comprehensive bill next session. The Assembly also passed a bipartisan bill that would put more oversight on new private schools trying to enroll voucher students. That bill is also ready for the governor’s signature.