Wisconsin School Accountability Bill Testimony.


Before Christmas I posed the following question and context to Wisconsin state legislator Robin Voss.

WHY, WHY, WHY would you even be thinking about implementing “accountability?” Accountability has a 30-year record of failing children, parents, teachers, and communities. And the disaster of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top over the last 14 years has literally denied a generation of children access to their fundamental right of a powerful and critical education! The only beneficiaries of “accountability” have been you and your friends in the legislature and the companies that have made millions on the sale of tests and data systems to schools. Schools that have simultaneously been drained of money that could have gone towards the only things proven by research to help create an atmosphere in which real learning can occur—health care, basic nutrition, and access to books.

Today I offer this for anybody that plans to testify tomorrow.

I would make a serious point to talk about the fact that this bill is NOT an improvement bill but rather an attack on public schools and a method to defund and privatize our public schools.

A lot of democrats seem to want to focus on the fact that vouchers and charters might not be held to the same “standard of accountability.”  This is NOT the issue! This is a public school privatization bill.
Insisting that voucher schools, charter schools and public schools all be held to the same “standard” assumes that the accountability system is helpful.  It’s not and there is plenty of research that speaks to the fact that accountability systems such as NCLB and RttT have done nothing to improve schools.  In other words the “beatings” that have gone on for the last twenty years must end—not be shared equally.
Why would we counter this bill by asking for something that doesn’t work? It’s the accountability systems that are the problem.  Testing all kids (public, private voucher and charter) does nothing to improve the conditions that make real learning possible.  If we want to improve schools where we have persistent achievement gaps we would demand that the legislature fully fund public schools and start to address simple socio-economic issues like simple child health care, child nutrition and access to books.
Uniform accountability is not an acceptable compromise to this Bill.  A full commitment to Wisconsin’s public schools—as required by the state constitution—is required. Public schools are the hearts of our communities should be the rallying cry.