Charter school enrollment rises in WI, nation

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE/FALL CREEK, Wisc. (WEAU) - Charter schools have grown throughout the country and in Wisconsin.

A new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said the state saw a 12 percent increase in enrollment, adding about 4,556 kids to public charter schools.

Paul Berthiaume said he enrolled two of his five kids into the Wildlands Charter School in the Augusta school district because it was a better fit than traditional schools.

"We wanted kids who love to learn, who problem solve, who interact with the school and that's what we're experiencing at Wildlands," Berthiaume said.

"Every person is different and that's what we see in education, that's the struggle we've had for years, is meeting the needs of a diverse learning community and in many cases trying to do it in more of a cookie cutter approach," Wildlands teacher Paul Tweed said.

Funded the same as traditional schools, Wildlands has a focus of environmental studies for grades seven through 12 and Chippewa Valley Montessori in Eau Claire offers a variety of topics in smaller groups for preschool through fifth grade.

"So if you're to step into our classrooms, you'd see kids move around more, having more freedom to choose what works are going to work on," Montessori principal Todd Johnson said.

"Anytime we can do things a little bit different, instead of a cookie cutter approach, it gives us a chance to look at other methods and say we really think that's effective, let's pull it into our other schools," he said.

"Not every charter school is a home run. But more charter schools, more people trying different things and the freedom to do it has to be good," Berthiaume said.

Tweed said what's unique about Wisconsin is that the majority of charter schools are funded and operated publicly, and are not for profit.
Both Montessori and Wildlands have lottery systems to select their enrollments.

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