Like Superintendent Tony Evers said, kids only have one chance to get a good education. And they can't get it back, which makes this experiment irresponsible and unnecessary:
A proposal in Gov. Scott Walker's state budget appears to make Wisconsin the only state with no law aimed at guaranteeing students a minimum number of hours and days of instruction. Walker's budget plan eliminates the state law that calls for public schools and private voucher schools to provide a minimum number of hours of instruction. The proposal in Walker's budget appears to have originated at one of the statewide education agencies in Oshkosh: CESA 6. It would also free virtual charter schools from having to ensure that teachers are available for direct pupil instruction for a minimum number of hours each year.
State Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), a member of the Joint Finance Committee and the head of the Senate Education Committee, said he (was) leery of freeing virtual schools from mandates for teacher availability. "If you sign up and no teacher is available..."
"... There could be nobody there," said state Superintendent Tony Evers, finishing Olsen's sentence.
What the Journal Sentinel article didn't mention at this point about Sen. Olsen, and should have. Wisconsin Watch:
School districts in Wisconsin, faced with a new mandate to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and other educators, must make a choice and use an assessment model ... (law) crafted by state Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon. The agency administrator of CESA 6, which stands to receive about $1 million a year in taxpayer money from selling this model to schools, is Olsen’s wife, Joan Wade.I hope you're sitting because the following is a doozy...welcome to Republican governance:
The CESAs, or Cooperative Educational Service Agencies, receive most of their money from school districts, in exchange for various programs and services. Wade has a 2013 salary of $131,821, plus $53,809 in benefits, which puts her toward the top among state CESA administrators.
State ethics officials ruled in an earlier case that Olsen is allowed to take actions that benefit CESAs, despite the connection to his wife, because these agencies serve a public purpose. Wade, a former state legislator, does not see her husband’s role in helping pass legislation that allowed her agency to compete for tax dollars as a conflict of interest. “I don’t make more more because we’re doing this,” Wade said.And now we might not have minimum hours and days for public instruction. If that weren't enough, allowing districts to cut back dramatically hoping to get decent testing results on tight budgeted years looms large:
"What happens if you have a year when budgets get tight?" asked Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. He said the minimum hours requirement is a floor, not a ceiling. But eliminating the minimum hours requirement as well would make Wisconsin the only state without a mandate for minimum hours or days,...because it's a bad idea!!!
Ted Neitzke, the head of CESA 6 and the former superintendent of the West Bend School District, said some administrators wanted more flexibility for how they could count minutes of instruction. For example, he said, some Advanced Placement courses require students to read books before the school year starts. Schools don't get credit for that kind of learning time under state law, he said.
Really, Walker would eliminate the minimum hours required to educate our kids and allow districts to cut back due to budget shortfalls is based on letting some schools get credit for learning time over the summer.
Evers is not in favor of the proposal and said schools were still free to be innovative with instructional time even with the mandate in place.
Current law calls for Wisconsin schools to provide at least 1,050 instructional hours for first- through sixth-graders and at least 1,137 instructional hours for seventh- through 12th-graders. Virtual schools have to ensure teachers are available for direct pupil instruction for those same hours and grades and also for at least 437 hours for kindergarten students.