Our Mission, Background, and Definitions

Our Mission

The Office of Charter Schools cooperates with community organizations, parent groups, educators and other individuals who are committed to improving the quality of education for children in the City of Milwaukee to charter successful, innovative schools. The Office of Charter Schools envisions the following elements within the charter school:

  • Programs that support effective instruction based on research literature
  • Programs that are innovative in meeting the educational needs of the community
  • Programs that will work to meet the needs of at-risk students
  • Programs that will contribute to reform efforts in public education
  • Programs that are innovative in addressing the challenges of urban education


Wisconsin Statute 118.40 Federal and State Laws and Regulations enacted in 1993 enabled school boards to establish charter schools. In 1998 the statute was revised to grant authority to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (University) to authorize charter schools within the city of Milwaukee (City). The central purpose of the charter school legislation is to eliminate a significant portion of statutory requirements and administrative rules and regulations usually imposed on public schools and in turn demand a new type of public accountability tied to actual performance.


Charter schools are non-sectarian, tuition-free, public schools created on the basis of a contract or "charter" between the school and an authorizer.(1) The concept of charter schools was developed to create new educational innovations as part of a larger array of educational reform initiatives. The role of charter schools is to promote innovation, develop new models of education, and create working environments that foster improved educational opportunities for children. Charter schools offer a new governance structure for public schools that trades autonomy for accountability and holds high academic and organizational expectations for the school. Charter schools must meet all of the student performance and operational goals listed in their charter or the charter may be non-renewed or revoked.(2) A charter school authorizer holds the statutory authority to: (1) grant charters to individuals, groups or organizations to operate charter schools in compliance with national and state and requirements Federal (Appendix A) and State (Appendix B) Laws and Regulations and (2) the responsibility to ensure public accountability.