Expanding Course Access (SB 789) Will Empower Families for Post-COVID Education

CJ Szafir and Libby Sobic:

SB 789, which improves upon the outdated “Part-Time Open Enrollment” program — allows any elementary, middle, or high school student to take up to two courses at any other school, including public, public charter, and private. And this happens all without the student ever dis-enrolling from their school. This could allow students to take courses at any nearby school “in-person” — or at a school across the state “virtually.” SB 789, led by Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt, received bipartisan support in its passage in the Assembly and now awaits a vote in the Senate.

Even before COVID, Wisconsin had a course access problem. Too many students in rural and urban K-12 schools simply do not have access to important courses. 60% of public high schools in Wisconsin do not offer intro computer science. Surveying AP courses offered at all traditional Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) high schools, 95% do not offer computer science, 84% do not offer economics, and 84% do not offer physics. In Northeastern Wisconsin, a survey of high schools found that 100% do not offer Spanish or economics, and 78% do not offer government or computer science. All of this is directly related to Wisconsin’s K-12 educational woes — struggling urban and rural schools, major racial achievement gaps, and too many graduates not equipped for the workforce.

Related: credit for non-MMSD courses.