Just what is a charter school? That’s the question I get most often when I talk to people in the general public. It’s a good question. What’s going on with charter schools around here is both important and tough to grasp.
Gov. Scott Walker unveiled ideas last week for momentous steps related to education around the state as part of his budget proposal for the next two years.
One of them was not allowing public schools to spend more money for operations in the next two years than they’re spending now. I was betting Walker would back a modest increase, at least in line with increased state aid for schools. By not increasing what is called the revenue cap on schools, Walker effectively proposed using increased education aid for property tax relief, not education. That would mean putting public schools statewide in increasingly tight circumstances. Will Republicans in the Legislature accept that or moderate it? A big question for the coming months.
Another Walker proposal would allow launching private school vouchers in as many as nine more cities in the state (Milwaukee and Racine have them now). It’s very controversial and we’ll talk about it in coming weeks.
But Walker’s budget proposal also includes important charter school changes. Those have gotten less attention, so let’s focus on them here, mostly in the form of a primer on charters.