January 1, 2015

Democrats Introduce Voucher Accountability Bill
GOP still lacks real accountability for taxpayer funded private voucher schools
MADISON – Today, Senators Chris Larson and Nikiya Harris Dodd unveiled a common sense school accountability bill that will help prevent the blatant waste, fraud, and abuse of Wisconsin’s taxpayer dollars that has run rampant in the unaccountable private voucher school system for the past 25 years. Similar legislation received bi-partisan support last session but was ultimately blocked by Republican legislative leaders.

The bill being circulated by Larson and Harris Dodd includes common sense reforms, such as:
·         Background checks for teachers and administrators
·         Require graduation standards
·         Require licensed teachers
·         Require open records law compliance
“We know that our students and neighborhood schools are still struggling to recover from the largest cuts to education in our states history, and by failing to restore cuts we are failing to restore faith in our future. Restoring this values deficit should be our state’s top priority. At a bare minimum, we must make sure that every school receiving taxpayer dollars is held to the same standards and accountability. That is not the system we have today, and it continues to jeopardize the quality of education all of our children receive,” said Larson. 
“Allegations of discrimination and mistreatment of students with disabilities over the years in voucher schools is extremely alarming and now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, studies have shown that in many cases voucher schools preform worse than our traditional community schools. Last year, LifeSkills Academy, a voucher school that received $2.3 million in public funding, closed because none of its students were proficient in math and only one fourth grader was proficient in reading. Most recently, Travis Technology High School, a voucher school in Milwaukee, closed because of financial mismanagement.”
“Whether it is turning a blind eye to allegations of disgraceful treatment of students with disabilities, or ignoring gross instances of fraud and financial mismanagement of public dollars, Wisconsin Republicans continue to display a pattern of putting campaign contributors ahead of our kid’s classrooms.”
“Access to quality education is a freedom and right that every child deserves.  To that end, my Democratic colleagues and I will keep fighting to ensure that Wisconsin’s educational investments are in an accountable, discrimination-free system so that every child can obtain the knowledge and skills to succeed in life.”