“If you believe in charter schools, then it’s time to start asking why Wisconsin doesn’t have more.”

Libby Sobic:

So what’s a charter school and what kind of options do parents have access to?

Charter schools are public schools with significantly less red tape than their traditional public school peers. Wisconsin has several types with the most common type of charter school is a school authorized by the school district.

  • “Instrumentality” charter schools are part of the traditional school district, providing an alternative option for students or a unique perspective to the district. For example, according to DPI date, Tesla Engineering Charter School is a high performing instrumentality charter school authorized by the Appleton Area School District.

  • In Milwaukee, there are also several charter schools that are authorized by the district but have some separation between them and the district. These are called non-instrumentality” charters. For example, these charter schools have their own governing boards and hire their own teachers. Milwaukee Excellence, a “non-instrumentality charter” authorized by MPS, is the highest performing school in the City of Milwaukee.

  • Milwaukee also has a high percentage of “independent” charter schools, schools that are authorized by a governmental entity that is not a school district. For example, these schools are authorized by the UW-Milwaukee or by the City of Milwaukee’s Common Council. Schools like Rocketship, with two campuses in the north and south neighborhoods of Milwaukee, are schools serving vulnerable populations of students and helping students achieve academic success. Independent charter schools are beginning to expand outside of Milwaukee. The University of Wisconsin-System Office of Educational Opportunity started authorizing charter schools in the Madison area. UW-Parkside also authorized a charter within its community.

But does the charter school model work?

According to the data from most recent state report card, charter schools are some of the highest performing schools in the state. WILL research found that in Milwaukee, both independent and non-instrumentality charter schools exceeded MPS in student proficiency in math and English.

But these charter schools should be celebrated for more than just their academic performance. These schools embrace their students and families, creating a community of support for overall student success. For example, Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academycelebrated their 2019 high school senior’s college signing day with 100% college acceptance and over $2.5 million dollars earned in scholarship funds.

2005 [Madison]: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before.

2012: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2020: Madison’s “illiteracy-to-incarceration pipeline”: Booked, but can’t read