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School accountability legislation could change education for every student, teacher and parent in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WITI) -- It was a big weekend for Governor Scott Walker, who spoke on stage with several 2016 presidential contenders in Iowa before heading to California for meetings with high-level donors. This, as Walker quietly made news on a topic that could affect every school in the state.

Before the 2016 presidential race begins in earnest, Governor Walker is working on the state budget and another priority -- school accountability. Walker has said school accountability is his first priority, and he's essentially told his fellow Republicans in the Legislature he doesn't like their ideas so far.

Lost in the news Governor Walker is rejecting a proposed Kenosha casino -- and the presidential talk this weekend in Iowa, Walker laid out his first legislative priority of his second term in front of state educators Friday, January 23rd.

"My belief is that every school in this state that receives public funds, be it a traditional public school, be it a charter school, be it a private school that receives voucher funds through the state government, should be accountable," Governor Walker said.

School accountability legislation could change education for every student, teacher and parent in Wisconsin through testing and standardized reports.

"It'll force them to step up or see families choose to move away from those schools," Governor Walker said.

Walker's remarks put him at odds with leaders in his own party. Republican leaders in the Senate have proposed the creation of two separate review boards -- one for public, and one for charter schools. Meanwhile, Republicans in the Assembly have proposed turning low-performing public schools into charter schools.

Walker has quashed both of those ideas.

"I don't think having the state government talking about issuing sanctions or closing down, or re-issuing schools is the best place to be accountable.  I think it's accountable back in your home community, within your school and your school districts, so parents can ultimately hold the school and the district accountable working with you, and not leave it up to the state government," Walker said.

"The Assembly will have one version. The Senate will have a different version," Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said.

Hearings are set to start in Madison this week. The debate has been re-cast with Walker's new parameters, which are drawing support from teachers and the state's superintendent.

"Are we talking about punishments for poor performance, or are we talking about being supportive of schools that are struggling?" State Superintendent Tony Evers said.

A hearing on school accountability is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27th -- but Walker's comments are raising questions as to whether the bill can be passed quickly or whether it will take some more hammering out.