Charter Pulse

Selected readings on US charter schools

Expand WISCONSIN’s best charter schools

charter-schoolsWisconsin has some 2,200 public schools.

Only about 10 percent are charters schools. And only 1 percent — fewer than two dozen — are charter schools authorized by public institutions other than local school boards.

So relax, educational establishment of Wisconsin. Local school boards will continue to control the vast majority of all public schools even if the state gives the highest-performing charter schools more freedom to expand.

Senate Bill 76 may need some refining. But replicating the most successful charter schools makes sense to improve student learning. So does allowing more University of Wisconsin System campuses to authorize charter schools when local districts don’t want to. State universities are teaching future teachers. That makes them well positioned for overseeing and studying new models for achievement.

Charter schools are not voucher schools. Charter schools are not private or religious. So throw all of the voucher controversy and related baggage out of this discussion.

Charter schools are public schools. Some have worked remarkably well. Some haven’t. Some specialize in subjects such as technology or language. Others stress hands-on or community learning. They often serve disadvantaged and minority students.

In exchange for flexibility to try new things, charter schools promise to produce better results. And unlike traditional schools, they typically get five years to prove their success. After that, they can be closed.

SB 76 would make it easier for charter schools with strong records of achievement to reach more students and reduce long waiting lists.

Sens. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also want to let UW System schools and technical colleges authorize charter schools. UW-Milwaukee does this already with some success.

Critics worry more charter schools will pop up without permission from local school boards. They worry more charter schools will collect state aid that otherwise would have gone to traditional districts.

But we’re all in this together. And any financial impact will be small and worth it, given the prospect for innovation that could help all schools improve. As the economy improves, so too should state aid.

SB 76 deserves some more tweaks. But it also deserves wider support and passage.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal – Editorial

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2013 by in Advocacy, Charter Schools, Wisconsin.

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