Wisconsin K-12 Governance Commentary

Alan Borsuk:

Of course, Evers had a less sweet-spot-like reason for saying that. He went on to call for Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature not to mess things up with “divisive mandates” and “constrained revenue.”

Evers said, “I am very fearful that the balance will shift under the guise of school reform.”

I asked Walker, in a brief conversation Friday, about what Evers said. The governor praised local control — and, a hot theme for him, he emphasized the power parents should have to pick schools.

He said he was resisting proposals from Assembly Republicans for more state involvement in dealing with low-performing schools and said he was more in line with Senate Republicans whose accountability proposals call for less state involvement.

We’ll have plenty of opportunity over the next several months — hurray for the state budget process — to talk about these specific matters.

Let’s keep the focus here on the broader concept of local control of schools. It’s been the professed philosophy of Wisconsin education forever.

Everyone is in favor of it, at least at the slogan level. But as a practice?

So many of the shots are called these days from Washington or Madison that I got to wondering a few months ago what really was left of local control. That led me to write a piece for Marquette Lawyer magazine.

One of the people I interviewed was Michael Kirst, a Stanford-based expert on education policy who is now president of the California State Board of Education.