Who We Are

Our Mission

WCRIS supports the unique missions of member schools through advocacy, education and partnerships, to ensure an extraordinary education and equitable opportunity for each child.

Who We Are

WCRIS is a non-profit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) membership association representing more than 100,000 K-12 students in 600 Catholic, Lutheran, Christian, Seventh Day Adventist, and independent schools across Wisconsin.

Early Wisconsin education was primarily private or religious. It brought mass schooling and literacy to the state well before the public school system was created.

WCRIS was founded as the Wisconsin Association of Nonpublic Schools (WANS) in 1974 by a group of Catholic, Independent Christian and Lutheran school leaders who had first organized in the 1960s to advocate for equitable busing for private school students. In 2000, WANS was renamed to the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS) to reaffirm the identity of the organization and define us by what we are – a membership organization that serves private schools – and not by what we are not (nonpublic).

WCRIS is a charter member of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), our national affiliate that monitors federal legislation and advocates on our behalf in Washington D.C.

What We Do
  • Defend the parents’ right to select the best education for their child and a school’s right to pursue the unique mission of its individual charter.
  • Promote the understanding of private school issues, support student rights, and represent the special concerns of our teachers in areas of licensure and professional development.
  • Advocate for our schools’ participation in government programs and secures equitable access to available public resources, when applicable.
  • Host an annual Leadership Conference for private school administrators.
  • Our staff includes a registered lobbyist exclusively for WCRIS. In addition to promoting issues such as school choice, tuition tax credits, and equitable busing services, we defend WCRIS schools’ independence against burdensome regulations and new government mandates.
Core Values

WCRIS’ advocates and supports non-sectarian independent schools and faith-based schools in promoting and protecting our core values:

Educational Integrity

Ensuring that pupils at all schools have the resources they need to become productive, responsible, and engaged members of society.

Equitable Opportunity for All Children

Parents have the right to select the educational path that best serves their child(ren). Public policy should affirm this, and empower parents by providing them with the resources necessary to send their child(ren) to the school of their choice, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Supporting the Tradition of Independent School Missions

Private education has existed in the United States for over 500 years – 300 years earlier than the first public school was created. Private schools are an important part of our history, and should be respected and supported for future generations to come.

Did You Know?
  • 12% or 122,949 Wisconsin K-12 students attend private schools.
  • The vast majority of private school students are enrolled in grades K-8 and graduate on to attend public high schools.
  • WCRIS schools enroll 83% of all private K-12 students in Wisconsin.
  • WCRIS schools employ more than 6,000 teachers.
  • If there were no private schools, Wisconsin state and local taxes would have to rise more than $1 billion to pay for the students’ education in public schools.