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Senator: COVID concerns too limiting on parents’ school choices

The Brillion News

MADISON – State Senator Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, introduced a bill last week that would put parents back in the driver’s seat in regards to their children’s education, given recent changes because of COVID-19.

The bill, identified currently as Legislative Reference Bureau document LRB-6422, would provide parents with new flexibility to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact it will have on students and families for the 2020-2021 school year.

Under current law, students may open enroll to another district only if they apply during the spring prior to a fall semester.

This bill allows parents to use the alternative open enrollment process to enroll their child in a different district if they believe their home district's chosen instructional model is not in their child’s best interest.

Kapenga’s office said the bill also gives parents the tools to make this decision without the threat of a veto from their home district.

The bill also removes the enrollment cap that currently limits how many students from a specific district can participate in the state choice programs and allows choice applications to be processed on a rolling basis throughout this coming school year. “Many Wisconsin school districts are opting to forgo in-person instruction or utilize hybrid models effectively requiring parents to stay home and act as at-home educators. This can be catastrophic for student achievement and for working parents who can’t afford to stay home,” Kapenga said. “It is imperative that for the 2020-2021 school year we expand options for parents to use the open enrollment and choice programs to find an instructional model that best fits their child’s needs. Conversely, if a parent feels that virtual learning is the best option for their children, they should have the opportunity to enroll in a virtual charter or district that has experience in implementing it.”

Kapenga said data continues to show there are adverse side effects of virtual learning for some students, with some reporting as much as one years’ worth of educational regression.

He said parents and students should not be trapped in a district utilizing an instructional model that is harmful for their families.


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