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Bill would make charter schools independent, non-union

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Wisconsin's charter schools would become independent and non-unionized, under a new bill introduced by six Assembly Republicans.  

The measure would create an authorization panel to approve charter schools statewide which would be run separately from local school boards.  

Charter schools specialize in various subject areas and employment fields -- and most of the 200-plus charters are now run by public school districts.

The GOP bill would eliminate the charter designation from those schools, although they could still operate as magnet schools. Charter school students could live anywhere in the state, instead of their home districts as required now. And private charter operators could open new locations if their schools demonstrate high performance.  

Senate Education Committee chairman Luther Olsen of Ripon says the bill includes everything he'd like to see -- but he's not sure if there are enough votes to pass it in the current session.  

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said charter school reform is one of his main priorities, but he wants to approve something the Senate would pass.  

Public school unions are blasting the measure, saying it would dismantle the successful charters that have been formed -- and the traditional schools would lose state funds as students leave.  

Some independent charters are currently allowed, but only in the Milwaukee region. Sponsors of the new bill are Republicans Joel Kleefisch, Dale Kooyenga, Don Pridemore, Rob Hutton, Joe Sanfelippo, and Joan Ballweg.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)