Explain It To Me: Board of Regents and the Office of Educational Opportunity

Jan 27, 2023 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

Photo from LinkedIn

Additional context from IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform, Alex Ignatowski:

What happened? The Director of the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO), Vanessa Moran, was fired last week. The OEO is a statewide charter school authorizer. Although other charter school authorizers exist, under Moran’s leadership the OEO took the most active approach in authorizing charters on a statewide basis.

Why is it important? The UW System did not specify why Moran was let go, but there may be a few dynamics at play. Moran was appointed by former UW System President Tommy Thompson because she was a strong advocate for charter schools. Her departure now leaves the future of these schools uncertain. The new UW System President, Jay Rothman, has the authority to name her successor.

What’s the current status? The UW System and the UW System President are governed by the Board of Regents. All but two members of the board are appointed by the Governor to seven-year terms with the advice and consent of the Senate. Currently, there are only four members left on the board who were appointed by Governor Walker and their terms will all come to a conclusion in the next four years.

What’s next? Currently, 10 members of the board have not been confirmed and will likely come before the Senate this session. On top of that, over the next four years Governor Evers will appoint 10 new regents. All current and future appointees will need to be confirmed by the Senate. The Senate will need to make sure that any regents confirmed are committed to supporting charter schools in Wisconsin.