by Benjamin Yount
Wisconsin’s latest open enrollment suggestion would allow parents to send their kids to a new school based on whether or not the school enforced mask mandates.
The Senate Committee on Education on Thursday heard from lawmakers on Senate Bill 587, which would give parents the ability to send their kids to a new school based solely on a school district’s coronavirus policy.
“Parents made enrollment decisions [this year] based on what their district was going to do,” the plan’s author Rep. Barb Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told The Center Square.
Dittrich’s plan would give parents a choice to move their kids to or from a public or private school if their local school district requires masks or vaccines, or if their local school district does not require masks or vaccines.
“This is for parents of both persuasions, if you will,” Dittrich explained. “Some say ‘No, I want my kids masked-up, and my school is only optional right now.’ What do they do? Because right now there is only a narrow window for open enrollment.”
Dittrich’s legislation would apply to both the rest of this school year and all of the 2022-2023 school year as well.
Her proposal also deals with one of the stickiest points of school choice during the coronavirus; namely, high school sports.
“Students would be able to stay in their high school sports,” Dittrich said. “These kids should not be punished for any of this.”
Gov. Evers already vetoed an open enrollment that would have allowed kids to change schools because of coronavirus restrictions, as well as one that dealt with high school sports.
Democrats at the Capitol blasted Dittrich’s latest plan as well.
But Dittrich said open enrollment and school choice questions are not going away. She said parents are reacting to what they’ve seen out of their local schools during the coronavirus, and are sending a clear message.
“I think universal school choice could gain momentum because of this,” Dittrich added. “People have had enough. Parents want choices.”
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