On the state Senate’s calendar today is a bill that would keep alive the state’s virtual schools by imposing standards on them and making sure funding for the schools continues. On Monday, various groups were in discussions on what form the final bill would take and whether it would be amended to include such items as a cap on the number of students allowed to enroll in the schools.
The Senate should reject such amendments and any attempt to weaken this bipartisan compromise measure that was carefully crafted by Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). It is backed by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Right now, the state has 12 virtual schools that serve more than 3,000 children, according to the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. The future of those schools was put in jeopardy after the state Court of Appeals ruled in December that they were not entitled to state aid. The bill put together by Lehman and others would restore that funding by requiring virtual schools to meet specific standards, among them having the same number of hours of instruction per year as traditional classrooms and using certified, licensed teachers.
Virtual schools are a sound alternative for some children, and it’s clear from state test scores that most kids in virtual schools do well. It’s also clear that their parents care passionately about the schools.