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Walker: make schools more accountable

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Governor Scott Walker says Wisconsin lawmakers should make it a top priority this spring to make schools more accountable. But it won't happen today, after Senate Education Committee chairman Luther Olsen canceled a vote he had planned on a major reform package he unveiled this week. Olsen, a Republican from Ripon, said he didn't have the votes to approve the package -- and it might have to wait until next year's session.

The bill would create more definitive letter grades for evaluating public schools, force failing schools to either close or become charter schools, and release test results for tax-funded private school students in the voucher program.

Olsen said Democrats and Senate Republican Paul Farrow of Pewaukee opposed the plan. Farrow said he wants an "accountability council" to be formed in the Department of Public Instruction. He also wants all voucher schools to be judged by test data, not just the tax-funded students within those schools.

The Republican governor re-iterated that he wants a school reform bill on his desk by early April, when the legislative session is due to end. Walker says he's talking to leaders of both houses about the matter. He said parents need to be able to compare schools, to decide which ones are best for their children.