Wisconsin is a national leader in providing parents school choice options.
Public School Choice:
Wisconsin offers extensive choice within its public education system. The Education Commission of the States reports that Wisconsin has implemented two open enrollment policies: mandatory statewide inter-district open enrollment and a voluntary inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policy. The Center for Education Reform reports that Wisconsin has an average charter school law. As of 2010, over 40,500 students were enrolled in the state’s 233 public charter schools.
Private School Choice:
Wisconsin has provided private school choice to its students for more than 20 years. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, enacted in 1990, provides scholarships to low-income students living in the Milwaukee Public School District. As of 2011, this program has been expanded, and it is estimated that up to 65 percent of Milwaukee students will be eligible for scholarships. Also as of 2011, Racine County will offer a similar school choice program.
According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning, Wisconsin provides a state-led virtual program as well as several statewide online charter schools and several district programs. The state-led Wisconsin Virtual School (WVS) provides over 170 courses for students in grades 6-12. In 2010-2011, WVS had 3,381 course enrollments. In 2011, the state’s cap on the number of students enrolled in full-time virtual charter schools was lifted. Wisconsin now has 27 virtual charter schools, 13 of which opened in 2011. The 14 virtual charter schools in operation during the 2010-2011 school year served 4,328 students. The Wisconsin eSchool Network, a consortium of 11 school districts, had nearly 5,000 course enrollments in 2010-2011.
In 2011, Governor Scott Walker signed a state budget that included provisions to expand the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, increasing income eligibility and completely lifting the cap on the number of students who can participate. The budget also included language that set into place a similar school choice program for students in neighboring Racine County.
Click here for detailed information on Wisconsin's public school system and see below for school choice contacts in Wisconsin.