What We Are

legislative background

The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) was created through the Wisconsin Legislative in 2015 as part of the biannual budget Act 55  and amended in 2017 to allow for statewide charteringStatutes 36.54and 118.40(2x) define OEO’s scope and authority. The OEO director is appointed by the UW System president 

Mission

The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) exists to incubate educational innovations, to improve known best practices, and to increase educational equity.

Vision: The Wisconsin Idea in Action

As part of the University of Wisconsin System, we live the Wisconsin Idea by incubating new educational opportunities, sharing what we learn along the way with PK-20 stakeholders, and supporting efforts to close opportunity gaps and eliminate achievement gaps.

core values

Innovation, Incubation, Equity, Collaboration, Integrity  

core values in action

Learning and sharing best practices, partnering with school districts and leaders, championing successes, and connecting UW researchers and educators  

School oversight and analysis to develop and share new models and best practices.

Understanding the needs, shared challenges, and educational gaps in communities and undeserved populations and providing high quality options for parents and students.

Through connections to national experts, UW, local practitioners and experts, and communities to build relationships, elevate the voice of those most impacted by educational inequity, and improve systems for sharing resources and ideas.

Through public transparency, accountability to the state, Board of Regents, schools, and public, and evidence-based school application and performance review.


What We Do

Connectors

  • OEO builds and leverages connections and expertise available within the UW System and affiliates like WCER 
  • OEO also partners with national and local organizations that help provide connections, share best practices, and resources to OEO and our schools 

Incubation, Innovation, and Equity

OEO helps create new school partnerships and opportunities. See Charter RFP for details. Our role is to solicit and review public school proposals and then hold those who operate public schools that we authorize accountable to students, families, professional educators, and taxpayers.

When we review proposals for schools, we may say “yes” if the concept meets our three thresholds for authorization: incubating a new educational experience, making innovations to existing educational options, and increasing educational equity for all students.

OEO reviews proposals on a publicly available rubric, negotiates contracts for the creation of (or renewal) of a school. The UW Board of Regents must approve the final contract. 

Ensure and oversee school integrity and impact

See more about our schools and public accountability. As with all schools in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction regulates any OEO authorized schools. 

Per its charter contractsOEO conducts monitoring and oversight activities to schools to ensure schools uphold their mission and meet performance targets for academic, financial, and organizational outcomes  

These activities include evaluations, presentations at board meetings, formal written communication to the school leadership and board, site visits, data review and analysis, and informal feedback.


Our Team

Leadership

Aaron Seligman is the Director for the Office of Educational Opportunity. He is a Madison public schools graduate, and was previously a public high school teacher, private practice lawyer, and nonprofit manager for both national and local education organizations. He has a law degree from UW-Madison, a Masters in Teaching from American University, and a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.

Internship Opportunities

OEO has also partnered with graduate student programs and internships including the Network Fellows program to host meaningful learning experiences for students that also increase OEO’s impact. Contact us if you are interested in an internship. 

Advisory Council  

OEO convenes highly-qualified individuals from diverse educational, professional, and cultural backgrounds to evaluate charter school proposals and renewal applications. The Advisory Council reads applications, participates in capacity interviews with applications, and collectively providerecommendations to the OEO.  

Current Advisory Council Members

Advisory council members include university faculty and students, school leaders, and designers.  

  • Tara Finch, UW Graduate Student Fellow
  • Barbara Bales, Director, Strategic Initiatives and Educational Innovation in PK-20 and Education Programs, UW System
  • Allen Brandt, Principal, Kaleidoscope Academy, Appleton Area School District
  • Peter Goff, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA), UW-Madison
  • Cynthia Gonzalez, Advisor, Bilingual Education & Parent/Caregiver Engagement, Escuela Verde
  • Garrett Zimmerman, School Leader, La Crosse Design Institute and 7Rivers Community High School
  • Colleston Morgan, Jr, Director of Policy & Advocacy, City Forward Collective
  • Tomas Clasen, Community Engagement Manager, ACLU of Wisconsin
  • Valerie Schmitz, Senior Director: Continuous Improvement and Implementation Science, CESA 2

Every charter proposal is reviewed by some, but may not be reviewed by all council members.