Walker objects to challenger's Wisconsin education plan
By SCOTT BAUER
Sep. 13, 2017
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker objected Wednesday to Wisconsin's education accountability plan drafted by a Democratic challenger in next year's election, saying it doesn't embrace enough innovative ideas to help turn around struggling schools.
Walker sent a letter to state Superintendent Tony Evers asking him to rework the plan, which all states are required to submit to the federal government by Monday.
Evers is one of several Democrats running for governor in 2018. He released the first draft of Wisconsin's Every Student Succeeds Act plan in April. Since then state Department of Public Instruction officials have been soliciting feedback from Walker, schools, state lawmakers and others.
"Your bureaucratic proposal does little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin's students," Walker wrote to Evers.
DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said the department is confident the plan gives "a roadmap for success" in Wisconsin, and looks forward to discussing it after it's made public Monday.
Approval of the plan is not up to Walker, but to Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos.
All 50 states must submit accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act in order to continue receiving federal education funding. Wisconsin gets more than $500 million per year in such funding.
Wisconsin's plan was created over several months based on feedback from Walker and a wide array of groups, including those representing K-12 school districts, parents, teachers, choice schools, non-white students, the disabled, gay, lesbian and transgender children, the Legislature, the University of Wisconsin and technical colleges.
But Walker said Evers didn't have a rigorous enough intervention plan for low-performing schools. The state plan calls for those schools to create an improvement plan under supervision of the state education department.
"I hope you will agree that adding layers of bureaucratic paperwork does little to help low-performing schools," Walker wrote.
He said other states, like Tennessee, have come up with more creative approaches to "drive improvement through bold reforms." Walker called on Evers to submit a new proposal that "allows our schools to innovate and students to succeed."
The plan will dictate education policy in Wisconsin's K-12 schools for years to come. The draft set a goal of cutting the state's worst-in-the-nation student achievement gap in half within six years, which would require a dramatic improvement in test scores by non-white students. The plan also calls for cutting the high school graduation gap in half over six years.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm that has threatened to sue over the process used to create the plan, said Walker was an "important voice" in a growing list of critics.
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, also had accused Evers of failing to take advantage of flexibilities provided under the law.
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