GOP plans more K-12 education choices for Wisconsin

Matthew DeFour:

The Legislature’s new Republican leaders will emphasize giving school districts, parents and students more choices as they seek reforms in K-12 education, and opposition is surfacing to a proposal that would kill Madison’s 4-year-old kindergarten program.
Later this month, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, a former teacher and co-chairwoman of the Legislature’s budget committee, plans to introduce a charter school reform package that will, among other things, call for an independent statewide board to approve charter schools.
Currently local school boards approve charter schools, even if they won’t be directly operated by the district. A statewide board could help proposals, such as an all-male charter school in Madison, move forward “without having to wait forever and ever and without having lots of obstacles,” Darling said.
Other education reforms are expected in Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 budget proposal in February, said Rep. Robin Vos, Assembly chairman of the budget committee.
Olsen has hired education policy consultant Sarah Archibald, a UW-Madison professor and researcher at the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. Archibald has written about attracting high-quality teachers by offering bonuses to top math and science students who decide to teach, making it easier for teachers trained outside Wisconsin to obtain certification here and increasing the grade-point requirement for aspiring teachers above the current 2.5.