Are Charter Schools private? Can they be?
No, all Wisconsin charter schools are and must be public schools. They are all tuition-free.
Do Charter Schools provide a benefit to students who do not attend them?
Charter Schools bring cutting edge curriculums to our state’s children and are “innovation labs” within existing school districts. Charter Schools serve as a “testing ground” for new curriculums, and as they are modified and developed into successful models, these curriculums can be rolled out to conventional (non-charter) schools. In the long-run, all Wisconsin students will benefit from the innovative methods found in the state’s Charter Schools.
How do Charter Schools benefit Wisconsin?
In addition to serving as a testing ground for innovative curriculums that can be rolled out to all public schools across the state, Wisconsin’s Charter Schools support the public school systems and local communities in which they are located, and provide other long-term benefits to our state.
Charter schools increase property values and tax revenues. Charter schools generate new property tax revenue when they increase property values of dilapidated buildings they renovate and rehabilitate to use as public schools. Property values may also increase in the communities where charter schools are established.
Quality charter schools produce more high school and college graduates. While some charter schools are still too young to produce long-term data, many charter schools are producing more high school graduates, fewer high school drop outs, and more college attendees and graduates, thus reducing a community’s investment in social services and ultimately increasing its tax revenue.
Charter schools also hone students’ skills and prepare these students to eventually enter the workforce and begin successful careers in high-technology, biotechnology, or other fast-growing fields in our state that require well-trained workers.
Are Wisconsin Charter Schools expensive?
Since charter schools are public schools, the money that they receive comes from the same source of funding for all public education. The money is simply moved from one provider of public education (the district), to another (the charter school). Charter schools often bring new resources into a community’s public school system through foundation, state, and federal government grants.
Many areas of the country have actually seen per-pupil funding increase when charter schools open. Charter schools that educate the highest-cost students for less than the district average per-pupil expenditure actually relieve district budget pressures and serve as a fiscal boon for districts. Nationally, charter schools enroll higher proportions of minority students, low-income students, and students limited in their English proficiency. Charter schools also often produce a net gain in teaching opportunities in the community.
How are teachers impacted by Charter Schools?
Most Charter Schools in Wisconsin are part of their school districts, and these teachers are employees of the district and retain all of their benefits. In the select areas of the state where Charter Schools do not remain a part of their school district, teachers are employees of the Charter School with any negotiated benefits.
How is a Charter School different from a Magnet School and school vouchers?
Magnet schools are highly competitive, highly selective public schools renowned for their special programs, excellent facilities, and high academic standards. These schools are designed to attract students outside their immediate neighborhood. They generally have a joint purpose of racial balance and a distinctive academic focus (such as arts or sciences). Students who apply to these schools go through a rigorous testing and application process.
A school voucher gives a student some of the tax money the school would have spent to educate that student and allows the student to use the money to pay for tuition at a private or religious school. Only a few small programs exist, and many of these programs (such as those in Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Florida) target low-income families.
Charter schools are public, non-religious schools open to all children and tuition free. They are created through a contract (or “charter”) between the operators of the school and the sponsoring school board. These schools bring innovation to Wisconsin public schools and are working to revitalize public education in our state.
Can any child in the state attend a Charter School?
Yes, any child can attend a charter school. Some charter schools are at capacity and have waiting lists; in these situations a lottery system is used to determine which students can attend.
In cases where a student wishes to cross district lines to attend a charter school, district approvals may be required.
Are there certain areas of the state where Charter Schools have thrived?
Districts such as Appleton, Milwaukee, and Sheboygan have implemented Charter Schools with great success. Wisconsin parents embrace this choice and are sending their children to Charter Schools.
What data shows that these Charter Schools make a positive impact?
As Wisconsin’s Charter Schools are very new, it is difficult to put forth reliable data that demonstrates the direct impact of these schools.
However, there are some facts we can point to:
Wisconsin’s Charter Schools serve the children most in need in the state
Wisconsin’s Charter Schools provide a viable choice to meet the needs of students whose needs are not met via traditional schools
What is the WCSA and what does it do?
The Wisconsin Charter Schools Association (WCSA) is a statewide voluntary membership organization of charter public schools and friends of charter public schools.
WCSA supports Wisconsin’s charter schools with resources to help these member schools succeed with their “charter.” The WCSA also works to improve the public’s awareness of charter schools and the benefits these schools bring to the state as a whole, and works on the ever-evolving legislative issues surrounding education in our state.
Why should a charter school join the WCSA?
WCSA provides members with support and information to help the success of member charter schools. Membership in WCSA offers members:
Advocacy on behalf of Wisconsin charter schools with policymakers at the local, state and federal levels and exclusive updates on opportunities and issues in this area.
Exclusive information to members via communications featuring legal comments, conference notices, grant information, updates on legislation, links to additional resources, and more.
Access to a special charter schools discussion group, so that fellow WCSA members can learn from each other.
Ongoing communication among other WCSA members and leaders of Wisconsin DPI, US Department of Education, and other statewide organizations.
Media initiatives and opportunities to foster an understanding of and support for Wisconsin charter schools
Special consultation services for issues surrounding charter schools – from the planning phases through the operating stages
What is the relationship between the WCSA and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS)?
NAPCS is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing charter schools throughout the country. The organization supports the efforts of state charter school associations, and provides resources to select states to further the development of its charter schools. Wisconsin will be working with the NAPCS to further drive member charter school quality in the state.
How will the WCSA work with policy makers and elected officials?
The WCSA will work to educate policy makers and elected officials on charter school issues, to monitor issues of significance to the charter school community, and to help members navigate their way through the legislative process. The Association will also work to communicate openly and effectively with public officials, to tap into the ways that charter schools can innovate educational methods in our state and improve the preparedness of our students for their careers and contributions to society.