Thursday, January 10, 2008

With friends like these

State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) offered a "fix" today for Virtual Schools to supposedly keep them open. However, there's a darker intent to his proposal:

Lehman’s bill will also more closely align per pupil funding provided by taxpayers to these virtualschools more closely with actual instructional costs.

He noted, “The open enrollment funding loophole currently being used by some of these charter schools ships local tax dollars for public schools to out-of-state corporations without any consideration of the actual educational costs. Virtual schools don’t have costs associated with operating a traditional brick and mortar school. We ought to protect local taxpayers by making sure we’re only paying for the
actual costs of on-line instruction.”
In other words, his bill is not really about saving virtual schools but knocking out the financial support for them.

Rose Fernandez of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families points out,
"It will slash funding for online schools by 50 percent, create enrollment restrictions, and set arbitrary new burdens on our teachers based on no research. Unfortunately, Senator Lehman did not consult with the parents, teachers or administrators from the online public schools when crafting this bill. His bill addresses issues not connected to the court decision and injects controversy that could undermine a bipartisan compromise that would keep virtual schools open.

"The Lehman proposal does not save these schools. In fact, it would close them. None of the half dozen quality online public charter schools affected by this lawsuit could operate at the arbitrarily low funding provided by his bill. No quality public school could. If this bill were to pass, thousands of families across this state would be dealt a devastating blow."
Lehman's base of support, the state teachers union, likes to claim "Every Kid Deserves a Great School." It would be nice to see the teachers union and their Democratic allies like John Lehman live up to their rhetoric rather than try to close great schools through lawsuits and now legislation.