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Video: How to find a middle school
Video: A guide to private schools
By GreatSchools Staff
Citywide specialty schools
Within Milwaukee's vast public school system, not all schools are made alike. Various "specialty schools" within the district give special attention to certain academic or extracurricular subjects.
One example of a successful specialty school is the Milwaukee French Immersion School. Focusing on intensive French-language instruction, the quality of teachers is high, and the school has received plentiful praise from GreatSchools readers.
Milwaukee has over 40 charter schools that provide another avenue for parents searching for a public option. Some are independent charter schools that are authorized by the City of Milwaukee or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), and some are independent charter schools that merely contract through the district, such as Carmen High School of Science and Technology and Milwaukee College Preparatory School—Lloyd Street.
About half of the charter schools in Milwaukee are more like traditional public schools with district-employed teachers, such as Fairview School or IDEAL School, but they do have an increased level of autonomy compared to other district schools.
Milwaukee has a school voucher program for low-income families known as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), which offsets the entire cost of tution at many private schools, meaning students cannot be charged any tuition or fees related to attendance, including any required field trips. (Families can qualify for school vouchers if they earn up to 175% of the federal poverty level.) Over 100 Milwaukee’s private schools accept vouchers in lieu of tuition.
One parent, Bonnie Juettner, moved to Fox Point, Wisc., a suburb north of Milwaukee, from Kenosha, Wisconsin's fourth-largest city, in search of better schools. "I was very dissatisfied with the Kenosha middle schools," she said. The schools in Fox Point boast plentiful opportunities for extracurricular activities and allow her children to immerse themselves in foreign language and the arts.
"I was pleased that my 12-year-old could take a language every day, and that she was not penalized for doing orchestra [in Kenosha the punishment for sixth graders taking orchestra is that they don't get to take a partial quarter of foreign language]," said Juettner.
Maple Dale School, which serves grades 3 through 8, was also flexible enough to accommodate a more specialized and accelerated course load for Juettner's children. "Maple Dale-Indian Hill has customized its curriculum for my daughter, giving her the chance to take accelerated classes and even distance learning classes when it turned out that her language arts class was only covering books she had already read," she said.
And for families who can afford them, private schools are a perennial but pricey alternative. (One of the better private schools in the Milwaukee area is the University School of Milwaukee.) With an enrollment of roughly 1,000 students, the school offers rigorous academics and an impressive array of extracurricular activities.
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