National Charter Schools Group to Testify on Behalf of Wisconsin Students and Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tomorrow the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools will testify before the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Urban Education on AB 549, a bill to strengthen the state’s charter school law. Senior Vice President of State Advocacy and Support Todd Ziebarth will speak on the need to improve Wisconsin’s law so that more students and families have the opportunity to attend high-quality public charter schools.
“All of Wisconsin’s children deserve the opportunity to attend a school that meets their needs,” said Ziebarth. “Students attending independent charter schools in Milwaukee are far out-pacing their district school peers and it is time to bring those proven results to more children throughout the state.”
Currently, outside of Milwaukee, only school districts are allowed to authorize charter schools to open; this limits the growth of autonomous and accountable charter schools despite public demand. In addition, Wisconsin’s weak charter school law and confusing charter school categorization system jeopardizes the state’s future access to federal dollars set aside for charter schools.
The National Alliance has joined other education advocacy groups in Wisconsin on a memo to the Assembly Committee on Urban Education that explains the key provisions of the bill, such as allowing more public entities to authorize charter schools and better defining and identifying the types of charter schools within the state. In the memo, the groups note:
Parents in Wisconsin deserve to have the best options available for educating their children… [AB 549] would facilitate the creation of high-quality, autonomous charter schools where it makes sense. Not only would there have to be demand from parents for educational options, motivated and qualified local supporters, and financial support available, but the local [University of Wisconsin] chancellor, technical college district board, or [Cooperative Education Service Agency] would need to get involved. Clearly, this change would not create a huge proliferation of charter schools, but instead would provide options where genuine need and capacity exist.
In 2013, 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 charters, regardless of their type or level of autonomy, have the flexibility they need 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.
“While there is still room for growth, this legislation takes important first steps in reforming and strengthening Wisconsin’s charter school law,” continued Ziebarth. “Since 2010, Wisconsin is one of only six states with a charter law that has not made improvements to their law. These changes will help put the state on a path toward providing more high-quality options for students and families.”
About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
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.