National Charter School Group Asks Wisconsin to Strengthen State Charter School Law
MADISON, WI — The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) will testify tomorrow before the Wisconsin Senate Education Committee on the crucial need to improve the state’s charter school law so that more students in Wisconsin have high-quality public school options. National Alliance senior vice president for state advocacy Todd Ziebarth will speak in support of Senate Bill (SB) 76, which would make changes to the state laws that govern public charter schools.
SB 76 would expand the government entities that are allowed to approve new charter schools, and the circumstances under which they can approve new schools. The bill would also allow some charter schools to design their own teacher evaluation standards, and allow high-quality charter schools to replicate more easily, among other things. “While SB 76 includes some important reforms and we support it, we believe the state could do much more to support the creation of high-quality public charter schools and to ensure the state stays in the race for federal charter school funding,” said Ziebarth.
Wisconsin’s federal grant to support the start up and expansion of charter schools will expire in 2014 and the state will have to compete with 28 other states for future funding when it applies next. Since 2010, 36 states have made policy improvements to their charter school laws, according to the report Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Laws. Wisconsin is one of only six states that have failed to make any significant improvements to its law during that same time period.
“With other states making improvements to their charter school laws that the federal government has encouraged—like enhancing charter autonomy, strengthening charter accountability, and providing facilities support—Wisconsin simply won’t be competitive for federal funding if the climate for charter schools doesn’t improve,” said Ziebarth.
The National Alliance ranked Wisconsin’s charter law as one of the weakest in the nation, 37th out of 43. The National Alliance’s model charter school law is designed to support the creation of high-quality public charter schools, particularly for those students most in need of better public school options.
To strengthen Wisconsin’s charter schools, the National Alliance has identified that Wisconsin needs to: 1) Ensure that all types of charters have the flexibility to innovate; 2) Increase the number of charter school authorizers and make sure authorizers hold existing charters accountable for results; and 3) Give charter schools equitable state funding for operations, transportation, and school facilities.
“If the state legislature enacted the changes proposed in SB 76 and the additional recommendations we have made for further strengthening the law, Wisconsin would transform one of the weakest charter school laws in the nation into one of the strongest, and the state would better serve students and families in our public school system,” added Ziebarth.
About the National Alliance
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.