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Jon Erpenbach: Compromise on virtual schools must happen
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With the February open enrollment deadline approaching, a compromise must be met for Wisconsin's virtual school students and their families. The decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals has stated that things cannot continue as they currently are, therefore we must find a way for virtual schools to operate within the confines of Wisconsin law.

Rep. Brett Davis and Sen. John Lehman both have proposed possible law changes to preserve virtual schools. While there are differences in the two bills, we have little option but to sit down and try to work out a solution. Both authors and all other members of the Legislature want to preserve the virtual school option for families. In addition, we want to ensure that the investments made by Wisconsin taxpayers are made legally and create an atmosphere of educational quality that we currently demand from our public schools.

Equal opportunity in education is a guarantee of our constitution. In practical terms it means that the state must ensure that children have an equal opportunity to succeed. Parents and students must meet achievement and attendance requirements to graduate and fulfill their obligation in education. Teachers and schools must be qualified and meet both federal and state requirements and standards or face a loss of funding and even closure under some "No Child Left Behind" requirements.

For the more than 3,000 Wisconsin students that enroll in virtual schools the stakes are high. They will be held to those same standards of education achievement as they pursue higher education and enter the job market. I believe children of virtual schools will be up to this task. The responsibility to make sure all of our kids meet that challenge lies with the Legislature right now. The doors of virtual schools in Wisconsin should be kept open with the confidence that their kids can stand up with every other kid in Wisconsin. Let's find the Legislative solution that is needed to keep our virtual kids in school, the teachers teaching, and our high level of educational quality for all Wisconsin kids preserved.

The last update I had was that the two authors were meeting. I am confident that a solution can be worked out. Please keep in touch with my office as this issue moves ahead in the Legislature. Sen. Lehman and I will be in Monroe on Feb. 7 to see the Monroe Virtual School in action. All other members of the Senate Education Committee also were invited.

- State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton,

represents the 27th State Senate District, which includes Green County.