Eduwonk on No Child Left Behind NYT Article

Education blog Eduwonk writes about a recent NY Times article profiling a Florida school

So, rather than the storyline of an unfairly maligned school caught up the unfair rules of an ill-conceived law, instead we have a school where about only half the kids are proficient in reading and math overall, few can write at grade level, and special education and black students are doing very poorly. Though the school does appear to slowly be making progress, a lot of children are being shortchanged right now. NCLB was designed precisely to ferret out these inequities which are easily obscured by overall averages.

Reading Instruction Workshop

August 9-10, 2004
Edgewood College Campus
Madison, Wisconsin

  • Direct Instruction Training for both Beginning and Advanced
  • Sessions Specially Designed for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teachers
  • College Credit Available
  • Great New Location

Sara Tarver, Ph.D., Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Issues and Debates about Direct Instruction
Terry Dodds, Author of the new High-Performance Writing Program
Tonja Gallagher, M.S., Doctoral Student and Teaching Assistant, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Jane Jung , Ph.D., Second Grade Teacher, Lapham School, Madison,WI
Dolores Mishelow, former principal in Milwaukee, WI
Norm Mishelow, principal of Barton School in Milwaukee, U.S. Dept. of Ed. Blue Ribbon Award Winner
Beverly Trezek, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
Chris Uelmen, M.S., Curriculum Coordinator, Core Knowledge Charter School, Verona, WI


WSJ Opinion Piece on School Board Governance

Today’s Wisconsin State Journal has a useful opinion piece on MMSD’s budget process & governance. This editorial is timely, given the current discussions regarding the district’s $310M+ budget:

The Madison School Board is in the midst of tackling the district’s budget woes, which include a $10 million shortfall between what the district can spend and what it wants to spend.
Board members can whine all they please that the “current way (the state) funds schools is broken,” but here’s the bottom line: The state school funding formula is not going to change this spring. If they want to fix something broken closer to home, they should start with their own flawed budgeting instead.
How bad is the district’s budgeting? Well, for starters, the board began debating cuts to the budget March 11, according to Barbara Schrank, a parent who was active in protesting last year’s proposed budget cuts, but they didn’t see the actual budget until three weeks later, on March 31. A month later, board members were told they couldn’t compare this year’s “same service” budget to next year’s “same service” budget because of computer software problems. And the board isn’t expected to finalize the budget until June, although layoff notices must be turned in by May 22

California Schools Update – The Economist

The Economist has a look at the state of eduction in California:

In Belmont, a huge high school with 5,500 pupils, security guards at the door, gangs in the classrooms and a 40% graduation rate, it is hard to imagine how children could ever learn anything in such a forbidding place. Yet even the better schools seem overrun. Placencia Elementary School, for instance, is full of smiling pupils, but like many other schools it does not have proper terms; instead, it follows a �year-round� schedule, with the students being rotated through the classrooms (three groups in, one out). But at least the pupils are being taught close to home. Every day, 6,000 children from the Belmont area are bused out to other districts. �Can it be good,� Mr Alonzo asks, �for a five-year-old to be woken up at 6am to travel two hours for a half-day of education?�
District F demonstrates what one leading Democrat calls the �these-are-not-our-children� attitude of white voters. With their own children now either educated privately or safe in smaller suburban districts, they have not stumped up the cash to build the schools needed to educate the new browner-skinned arrivals. As Roy Romer, the head of the LAUSD, points out, the same community found the money to build the sparkling Disney Concert Hall and the Staples conference centre.

Parent Comments on Strings Program

“The strings program has been very valuable to my son. It has built up his confidence, and the musical performances have really shown him how his hard work pays off. Strings are an asset to his education that benefits him beyond the musical arena.”


Strings Community Action

A. Introduction:
There’s no need for community action if the MMSD Administration and BOE state support for the current elementary strings academic curriculum. They don’t. When the Board members don’t say yes, it means no, given their recent history with this curriculum.
The MMSD Board of Education adopted and approved the elementary strings program as a necessary component of its Music Education Curriculum in the late 1980s. Standards and benchmarks were added in the late 1990s. The BOE has neither discussed nor changed its decisions on this curriculum.
The recent treatment of the elementary strings curriculum is another example of what happens when our BOE is lacking Long Range Plans for curriculum, for funding and for letting the Administration call the shots for kids rather than the BOE.


college pressure

This is an article from several years ago. It describes the pressures and attitudes of those seriously college bound students. (I’m not a fan of Brooks as a political commentator, but I think he did his homework on this. It certainly compares to our college sophomore’s experience.)

Elementary Strings – Call to Action

Who: Students, Parents, Teachers and Citizens � Elementary Strings Kids Need Your Help!
What: Rally in Support of the Elementary Strings Program � Grades 4 & 5.
When: Monday, May 3, 2004 � Meet at 6:30 p.m. to organize/picket before the 7:15 p.m.regular School Board Meeting and personal appearances. String teachers will organize children who bring their string instruments to play a couple of songs from the spring string festival.
Where: Doyle Building McDaniels Auditorium at 545 W. Dayton Street.
Why: To let the MMSD School Board know that we do not want to see elementary strings added to the cut list this year. No assessment of the cut�s curriculum impact has been made.
On March 21, Board President Bill Keys asked the Administration to prepare an analysisof the cost of the elementary strings program. The Administration�s analysis, which was released only last Thursday, April 22, was very biased, incorrect and unfavorable toward thecurriculum and proposed a $493 fee to cover the full cost of the program � no other activity has a 100% fee! Blatant, inequitable treatment � not fair to kids or Madison!
There is a chance the elementary strings program could be put on the cut list by School Boardmembers, and the May 3rd rally at the auditorium is to let the School Board hear from the public in a loud unison voice – NO.
Time is of the essence. Budget decisions will be made very soon. Here�s the budget timeline:

  • May 3 � Budget workshop before the 7:15 p.m. regular school board meeting. Further review of the proposed 2004-2005 budget.
  • May 5 � Board member amendments to the MMSD Administration budget cut list to be submitted. At this time a School Board member could recommend including elementary strings (4th and 5th grade) on the cut list.
  • May 10 � Board budget workshop to discuss and vote on Board member proposed amendments. Four votes are needed to include/exclude an item from the budget cut list
  • May 13 � Public Hearing on the Budget at 7 p.m. in the McDaniels Auditorium.
  • May 17 � Board budget workshop � determine personnel layoffs.

Come to the rally and let your voice be heard. Tell others. Call Board members. E-mail the Board:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
PDF Version (print/distribute) 40K

Dumbing Down Our Schools

Ruth Mitchell writes:

If you visited these classes and didn’t look at the sign over the door of the school, you might think you were in an elementary school, or a middle school at best. But such classes are not atypical in large urban high schools, where, except for the Advanced Placement (AP) and honors classes, much of the classroom work is below grade level.
On one trip to a Midwestern city, I found one out of eight assignments at grade level in two high schools. A colleague popped in on about 40 English classes in the course of a day at a West Coast high school and found one — just one — class where real learning was going on.
This is the dirty secret in the wars over teacher quality: the low level of academic work at all levels in far too many schools. The consequences of low-level work are seen in poor test results: Students given only work that is below their grade level cannot pass standardized tests about material they have never seen.

Madison Schools Budget Update

Three Madison School District 2004 – 2005 Budget Documents:

  • Summary of the 2004-2005 Budget Process: Discussing cuts before we see a budget: [71K PDF]
  • MMSD Budget Numbers [65K PDF]
  • Proposed Budget with Expenditure Constraints for 2004-2005
    (A Place to Start Budget Discussions) [48K PDF]

  • East High Booster Club March, 2004 Letter to the Board regarding proposed athletic cuts. [59K PDF]

A Priority Driven Budget

Model Cycle for Priority-Driven Budget
Purpose: Student achievement priorities drive budget allocations.

Administration uses specific, measurable goals to review student achievement inprior year according to district?s ?Strategic Priorities?. For example, it reviews reading, math, social studies, science curriculum for all student groups as well as programs aligned to district standards. Administration should ensure that suggestions for change come from the staff level that will implement the changes. Board committees, such as Performance & Achievement, monitor the review throughout the year.

Opportunities for public, staff input

Administration reviews facility, maintenance and non-instructional departments for prior year seeking efficiencies. Board committees, such as Budget & Finance and Long Range Planning, monitor the review throughout the year.

Opportunities for public, staff input

Before January, Administration recommends curriculum & program changes to improve student achievement. Appropriate committees review recommendations before sending them to full Board.

Opportunities for public, staff input

In January, Administration recommends budget for the next year allocating resources based on its analysis (connection between curriculum and programs and desired student achievement).

Opportunities for public, staff input

Where recommended budget exceeds revenue forecast for coming year, Administration presents funding alternatives including private partnerships or changes in fees.

Opportunities for public, staff input

Administration recommends modifications and cuts necessary to balance budget for coming year.

Opportunities for public, staff input

Board reviews recommendations for modifications and cuts, adopting or revising administrative recommendations.

Board approves budget for coming year. If budget exceeds revenues, Board considers referendum or further cuts.
Model based on recommendations in Team Leadership for Student Achievement, Ellen Henderson et al., National School Boards Association & American Association of School Administrators, 2001.
[40K PDF]