Friday, January 20, 2006

Doyle Willing to Negotiate on Vouchers: Are Republicans?

UPDATE: Here's the link to Borsuk's full article on this topic from Saturday's Journal-Sentinel. It has slightly more information than the link provided below.

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Alan Borsuk at the Journal-Sentinel reports today that Governor Doyle is making significant overtures to the Republican leadership in an attempt to strike a deal on the expansion of the school voucher program in Milwaukee.

In statements made today, Doyle emphasized the administrative accountability part of his proposal that would require voucher schools become accredited by select accrediting authorities by the 2007-2008 school year. Subsequently, it appears that Doyle is de-emphasizing the parts of his proposal that focus on classroom accountability--i.e., implementing WKCE standardized testing in all voucher schools.

Apparently there are meetings planned between Doyle and leading Republicans to get on with negotiations. I would applaud Doyle if he really is backing off on the implementation of standardized testing in the voucher schools. As I've mentioned a couple times before, I think large-scale, high-stakes, state-run standardized testing is detrimental to the teaching and learning that is supposed to take place in any classroom, public or private (you can read more detailed explanations of my reasoning here and here).

Of course, the corollary to keeping large-scale, high-stakes, state-run standardized tests out of voucher schools is getting them out of public schools. My hope in advocating for their omission from the voucher schools is that, down the road, the success of voucher students in the private schools becomes tied in part to the fact that their instruction isn't dominated by mandatory, state-run exams. Granted, the passage of No Child Left Behind makes standardized testing a national issue, not simply a state one, since that law ties much-needed federal funding to the use of and success on standardized tests.

However, the more public opinion can be influenced on the issue of accountability to see how detrimental standardized testing is to the freedom of the learning process in the classroom, the closer we can come to repealing No Child Left Behind. It's a long, tough process, and it can use all the help it can get.

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