A board authorized by the state Legislature to control the entry of schools into Milwaukee’s controversial private school voucher program is beginning its life with a powerful statement that it will stop any school it doesn’t think is prepared to provide a quality education from getting off the ground.
The New Schools Approval Board, part of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, voted last week to give a green light to only three new voucher schools for this fall. Each of them involves an existing education program that has not received public voucher payments previously.
The board stopped 16 schools from opening, generally start-up operations that were on track to meet the requirements for opening that existed prior to this year.
Leaders of some of those organizations were angered by the decisions and say they will meet soon to consider further action, such as a lawsuit. The new state law provides no appeals process for decisions by the New Schools Approval Board.
Three schools will be the smallest number of new voucher participants in years. In the past five years, there have been between eight and 15 new schools in the voucher program each September. Combined with the closing of other schools, the total number of participating schools has stayed in the range of 120 to 125.