IRG Action Urges Senators to Protect Charter Schools During Board of Regents Appointee Questioning

Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue will take up appointments to the Board of Regents Tuesday morning


September 25, 2023

WHAT IS IT? The IRG Action Fund is calling on members of the Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue to ask the hard questions, finding out if appointees to the UW Board of Regents are committed to the future of independent charter schools in Wisconsin. On September 23rd the Institute for Reforming Government asked all regent appointees five questions, found below, regarding their positions on top issues they’ll be working on if confirmed by the Senate, including a question related to the future of charter schools in Wisconsin. 


  1. The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) is the primary statewide charter school authorizer in Wisconsin and holds a key role in enabling innovation around the state. Do you support the OEO and its mission to advance public charter schools in Wisconsin? 
  1. A recent report released by the Center of Investigative Oversight at IRG showed that the University of Wisconsin’s Target of Opportunity (TOP) program permitted administrators to circumvent the normal hiring process and target prospective faculty members in part based on race. In light of the most recent Supreme Court decision concerning affirmative action, do you support the TOP program and the continuation of race-conscious hiring practices?
  1. The University Of Wisconsin System has a large imprint on the state and is a magnet both for Wisconsinites and people moving here. However, it faces inefficiencies and declining enrollment, partially from collapsing birth rates. What university systems do you view as models for how UW can adapt?
  1. Student debt continues to loom large. What can the UW System do to make sure that students graduate with little debt and pay it off quickly? Furthermore, what can the UW System do better to ensure graduates are ready for the Wisconsin workforce?
  1. Only 53% of underrepresented-race students who enter the UW System graduate in 6 years. It drops to 45% excluding UW-Madison. 30% of underrepresented-race freshmen need to take remedial mathematics and 15% must for reading. Are DEI efforts in the UW System effective? How do you know?

WHY DOES IT MATTER? Earlier this year, the UW System cut ties with Vanessa Moran, who was the Director of the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) at the time. The OEO is the primary statewide charter school authorizer in Wisconsin. Moran’s release raised red flags with advocates, as Moran was a strong supporter of independent charter schools in Wisconsin no matter who sat on the Board of Regents. 

The OEO is now under new leadership at the UW System. It is more important than ever that the Senate ensure that the Board of Regents remains committed to the future of charter schools in Wisconsin. Without a supportive board, new charter schools will not be founded, successful charter schools will not grow, and thousands of children will lose out on education opportunities.


“Independent charter schools are some of the highest-performing schools in Wisconsin. The OEO is an essential partner in ensuring that charter schools can continue to thrive as part of the educational landscape. I’m urging the members of the Senate Committee to ask the right questions, to find out if regent appointees will support Wisconsin charter schools, and to make sure that advocates have their voices heard.” 

-CJ Szafir, IRG Action Fund CEO

WHAT IS NEXT? The Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue will hold its public hearing tomorrow morning. Members of the Committee will have the opportunity to ask questions of the Regent appointees. The Committee will then need to take action at a later date before these appointments can be taken up by the full Senate. 


IRG Action Fund is the advocacy and lobbying partner to the Institute for Reforming Government (IRG), a public policy think tank based in Delafield, Wisconsin. IRG and IRG Action Fund are the leading organizations in Wisconsin working to eliminate the state income tax.