Curious (false claims) reporting on legacy k-12 schools, charter/voucher models and special education

Wisconsin coalition for education freedom:

Wisconsin Watch has released its third article in a series attempting to discredit the great work choice programs do in Wisconsin. Their latest article misrepresents admission policies of choice schools while ignoring the fact that public schools often engage in admission practices that would be illegal for schools participating in the state’s choice programs.
Wisconsin Watch is again making false claims.

  • In their most recent article, Wisconsin Watch again misrepresents school choice admission practices and now adds a false narrative that schools “expel” students with disabilities at will. Their claims don’t match reality, nor is a single example provided.
  • Fact: Schools in Wisconsin’s choice programs may not discriminate against any eligible family based on a student’s disability.i
  • As with many individual public schools, individual private schools are not required to provide a full range of disability services. Parents who choose to enroll their student do so only after being fully informed of available services.
    Some Wisconsin public schools have admissions processes that would be illegal for private choice schools.
  • Public school districts often have specialty public schools, in addition to their residentially assigned schools. Public schools are permitted to create admission requirements for these schools.
  • Public schools having admission requirements is not a new phenomenon, with the practice being documented in Wisconsin for decades.ii (Link)
  • Today, specialty schools like those in Milwaukeeiii (Link) use a points system to admit students based on their report card scores, attendance, standardized test scores, and an essay. In Green Bay,iv (Link) students must complete a test for admission to a school for the gifted.
  • Choice schools must admit students on a random basis if there is excess demand with few exceptions, primarily related to being in the same family as an existing student.v (Link)
    Public schools reject students in the public school full-time open enrollment program.

Phoebe Petrovic:

As an advocacy specialist at Disability Rights Wisconsin, Joanne Juhnke regularly finds herself on the phone with parents concerned about their children’s treatment at school.

Most complaints concern public schools, which enroll the majority of students. State funding for special education has shrunk, forcing districts to struggle to provide services, and disparate treatment of students with disabilities at public schools persists. But in public school, families have a state body to appeal to: the Department of Public Instruction.

DPI is far less helpful in disputes with private schools, which under state law can legally discriminate against students who need certain disability accommodations — or even kick them out. This applies even to private schools that receive taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers to educate students.

The calls Juhnke receives from voucher families often contain the same story. A family has enrolled a child with disabilities in a private school. Administrators have begun pressuring the student to leave or have kicked them out, something public schools cannot do. The parents are shocked. They’re sure the schools can’t do that.

Many times, Juhnke has to tell them: Yes, they can.

“You went into this school choice program thinking that you were the one, as the parents, who have the choice,” she said. “Really, on the other end, the school holds more choice cards than you do, and you’re coming out on the wrong side of that.”

I find the timing of Wisconsin Watch’s articles curious, amidst budget season. Ideally, the writer might dive deep and wide into the effectiveness of our well funded k-12 system. Reading would be a terrific place to start.

This Wisconsin Watch article was referenced in a recent St Marcus (Milwaukee) podcast. St Marcus operates an extraordinarily successful choice school on the City’s near north side. Read more, here.

Governor Evers’ most recent budget proposals have attempted to kill One City Schools’ charter authorization…

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?