November 16, 2021

Microschools Bill Passes Assembly Committee

Microschools Bill Passes Assembly Committee Featured Image

The Assembly Education Committee has passed a bill that would allow for microschools, home-based private schools for up to 20 children from two to five families in a single location. WEAC has registered against the bill, as it is another privatization effort designed to undermine public schools.

The bill (AB 122 / SB 201) would require microschools to offer 875 hours of instruction and a curriculum that includes reading, language arts, math, social studies, science and health. Students enrolled in microschools would be allowed to participate in resident public school district interscholastic sports and extracurricular activities. While at this point the bill does not shift tax dollars to these schools, as happens in the voucher programs, local public schools would lose per-pupil state funding for students who leave to attend microschools.

Microschools gained more attention as schools turned to virtual instruction because of the pandemic, where some families combined to hire a tutor or educator to privately teach their children. However, it is questionable how much of a demand exists and who would be held responsible if a microschool does not offer a good education. Current law does not include an instruction program provided to more than one family unit as an option.

The Wisconsin Homeschooling Parents Association is opposed to the bill, expressing concerns it would hurt homeschooling and calling microschools “unregulated private schools.” Other homeschooling parents have expressed concern that microschools could put more scrutiny on homeschooling families.

The bill has not yet received a hearing by the Senate Education Committee.

Governor Blocks School Voucher Expansion

Governor Tony Evers has already blocked one bill to expand school privatization this  legislative session. The bill, SB-41/AB-59,  would have increased the income eligibility for the statewide voucher program to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, allowed a pupil to submit full-time open enrollment applications to an unlimited number of nonresident school districts, and prohibited a resident school district from denying an open enrollment application if the basis for the application is that it is in the best interests of the pupil. WEAC registered against the bill.

WEAC Opposes Privately Run Charter School Expansion

WEAC has registered against Senate Bill 695, which would increase the number of privately run charter schools authorized by the College of Menominee Nation or the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. Privately run charter schools, also called non-instrumentality charter schools, are not authorized by an elected school board.

The bill is part of a broader campaign by private charter advocates to use Native American tribes’ authorizing authority to open up charter schools that do not even necessarily serve Native Americans. Just this year, the National Heritage Academies used the Lac Courte Oreilles’ authority to open up a school In Waukesha. It has 421 students in grades K-9.

See all the bills we’re watching at