One of the non-budget items that has been included in the 2014-2015 Wisconsin state budget, would allow the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee to charter an independent school in Wauwatosa as part of UWM’s innovation park. Actually the provision is even broader than that but Wauwatosa is the first community that UWM has targeted.

The provision would allow independent charter schools — public schools run independently of traditional school districts — to operate in the five-county Milwaukee area if UWM agrees to sponsor them.

Up to now, outside of Milwaukee and Racine counties, only the local public school systems could create charter schools…so this bill takes another swing on the part of Republicans in Madison at local control…and public education in particular. But why would Wauwatosa find this so onerous? Because as the Milwaukee Public Schools have said repeatedly, it takes money out of the public school system. Here’s what Wauwatosa has to say:

Now officials from the Wauwatosa School District are protesting the maneuver, saying that an independent charter school in the city could directly compete with them for students and, by extension, state aid money.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is the state university system moving in on local operations of a public school district,” said Mike Meier, Wauwatosa School Board president. “To have them using taxpayer money and tuition money to come into Wauwatosa and compete with us for students? We don’t agree with it.”

The Wauwatosa School Board is scheduled to vote Monday night on a resolution that would ask Gov. Scott Walker to veto the provision in the budget that would expand UWM’s chartering authority.

If the budget measure passes, it could set the stage for more independent charters to move into districts’ backyards in the Milwaukee County suburbs and and in adjacent counties.

It may not be a Republican or Democrat issue but before this week it was only Milwaukee’s problem and the suburbs never dreamed that Governor Walker and his minions would expand the program to effect them. If it’s a bad idea in Wauwatosa…it’s a bad idea in Milwaukee as well…time to partner up with the state legislators from Milwaukee and the remainder of the county if you really want to change this budget item. But good luck with that! I think your governor has his mind made up!

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