Enrollment in Gov. Scott Walker’s newly expanded statewide voucher program began Aug. 1. Despite concerns about the lack of accountability and oversight at these schools, the Republican-controlled Legislature has refused to take steps to protect children in this program and ensure that these private schools are held to the same standards as public schools.
“We should be holding all schools and teachers to the same set of standards in our state,” said state Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Private voucher schools that receive public funding through this program should be accountable to taxpayers and be required to follow the same set of rules as our public schools. In light of the ongoing concerns with this program, I will be working with my colleagues to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to strengthen oversight, prevent fraud, improve academic standards, and protect children attending private voucher schools.”
Currently, private voucher schools are not required to hire licensed teachers or conduct background checks of staff, are not subject to open record laws, are not subject to state graduation standards, are not required to be located in Wisconsin, and are not subject to state laws regarding the seclusion, restraint, and physical punishment of children. Legislation to address these issues is expected to be introduced before the start of the 2013-14 school year.