- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A proposal designed to give the Republican-controlled Legislature more of a voice in the crafting of a Wisconsin state education accountability plan required by the federal government won Assembly committee approval on Wednesday, but it appears to be doomed in the Senate.

The Assembly Education Committee approved the bill on a party-line 8-6 vote, with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. But Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Luther Olsen told The Associated Press he has no interest in bringing the bill forward in the Senate. The measure has no Senate co-sponsors.

The bill would require the state Department of Public Instruction to respond to any objections raised by members of the Assembly or Senate education committees to the accountability plan. However, the department led by state Superintendent Tony Evers would still retain final say on what gets submitted to President Donald Trump’s administration for approval.

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary,” Olsen said. Lawmakers have been regularly consulted by the department on the plan and given a chance to provide input, he said.

Every state must submit an education accountability plan under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the No Child Left Behind law this fall. The department has been working on the plan for nearly a year and an advisory panel includes four representatives from the Legislature as well as Gov. Scott Walker’s office.

The first draft of Wisconsin’s plan is being released on Friday and the education department was scheduled to discuss it before a joint hearing of the Legislature’s education committees next week. It will then accept public comment for two months and give the Legislature and Walker the month of July to provide feedback.

Lawmakers on the Assembly Education Committee clashed over the necessity of the measure before sending it to the full Assembly which plans to vote on it Tuesday.

“What are you accomplishing by this?” said Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope, of Cross Plains. “To me it’s just a clear slap at the department’s leadership for no apparent reason.”

Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl, of Sun Prairie, called it a “stick in the eye” to the Department of Public Instruction.

Republicans argued Democrats were overreacting and all they were trying to accomplish with the bill was to ensure the department listened to any concerns raised by lawmakers.

“This is not political at all,” said Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake. “Frankly, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here.”


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer .

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