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Grade voucher schools, too

Published: Thu, September 19, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Wisconsin State Journal, Madison: Virtually every public school and school district across Wisconsin received a state report card Tuesday.

The same performance summaries should be applied to all private schools that receive public money.

That includes learning institutions in Milwaukee, Racine and now dozens of other communities — including Madison — that will accept taxpayer-funded school vouchers.

Senate Bill 286, which received a public hearing at the state Capitol last week, would provide some accountability for taxpayers. It would require voucher schools to report much of the same data to the state Department of Public Instruction that public schools, including charters, already do. That would help parents and the public determine if the vouchers are well spent.

“It’s important that the Legislature be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, lead sponsor of the legislation, according to the Associated Press. “No matter if you’re a public school, a charter school or a choice school, if you get a check, you’re going to get a checkup.”

Olsen has the right attitude. And his strong proposal shouldn’t be weakened as it winds its way through the Legislature.

The state report cards aren’t perfect. But they do a decent job of providing information about overall student achievement in reading and math as well as attendance and graduation rates, gaps in learning and areas needing improvement.


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