Wisconsin DPI Candidate Forum


Three of the four candidates for Wisconsin DPI Superintendent participated in a Madison Forum Saturday morning. The League of Women Voters Melanie Ramey kindly moderated. Watch the forum here (video and audio clips). You can also read individual questions and watch/listen to the candidate responses.
Incumbent Libby Burmaster was unable to attend, though the three candidates mentioned that she has not participated in any primary events to date. I find this disappointing. These challenging education times require more debate, a more engaged citizenry and leadership.
I was impressed with the three participating candidates. They addressed the issues and were willing to put their names on a position.
In days long gone, it was likely sufficient to rely on special interests and avoid direct public interaction. Our current President certainly avoids any sort of critical engagements. Russ Feingold, to my knowledge, has always mingled easily with the public. [Melanie mentioned that incumbent non-participation is a growing problem around the state.]
The internet era is dramatically changing the way in which we all communicate, are informed and express our points of view. Any candidate seeking office would do well to participate in the conversation.
I also want to thank the local media for their extensive coverage:

  • 3, 15 and 27. Their coverage enabled these three candidates to have a few broadcast words with Madison voters.
  • Isthmus posted the event in their weekly calendar.
  • Sheryl Gasser emailed and mentioned that Wisconsin Public Radio will be interviewing the four DPI candidates individually starting this Monday morning from 7 to 8a.m. through Thursday morning. I’ll post audio links to these conversations.

Take a look at the forum page and email the candidates with questions. The primary is Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Vote!

Wisconsin DPI Candidate Madison Forum – Saturday Morning 1/29/2005

www.schoolinfosystem.org is hosting a Wisconsin DPI Candidate Forum tomorrow morning at 10:00a.m. at the Madison Senior Center. Three of the four candidates: Todd Stelzel, Gregg Underheim and Paul Yvarra have confirmed.
This is the ONLY Madison opportunity you’ll apparently have to meet the candidates before the February primary.
When: January 29, 2005 10:00a.m. (9:30 if you want to chat with the media folks)
Madison Senior Center, 2nd Floor
330 W Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 266 6581
[Map/Directions]. There’s quite a bit of parking around this facility, just behind the new Overture Center.
Please note that the Winter Farmer’s market is on the first floor of the Madison Senior Center, so bring your shopping bag.
Notes, photos audio and video files will be posted here after the event. I’ll post additional media links as they are available.

Need 3-5 Year Budget – Where Are We Going?

Monday night a majority of school board members voted to go to referendum in May 2005, one month after the April 5th election. To be on the ballot in May, the board will have to vote on referenda language by late February.
Why wait one month? In one month, board members expect to have more information about what the financial needs will be for the next year for educational programs and services. In reality, board members will have an estimate of the revenue gap for the operating budget. Carol Carstensen, before voting yes on a maintenance referendum, wants to see what the revenue gap is and what programs/services might be affected by the revenue gap.
To the public this seems like a jumble of information – vote to build a new school in January, vote to redistrict/close school in February, vote to redistrict so there’s a better balance/mix of students in schools in the near future, maintenance for schools that may be closed, and the real budget – the operation budget.

Expert in multicultural and gifted education to visit Madison

A support group for parents of talented and gifted (TAG) students, the Madison TAG Parents Group, is pleased to announce that Donna Ford, Ph.D., will be visiting Madison on February 8 and 9 to discuss the issues surrounding the identification and retention of gifted and talented low income and minority students. Dropout data from the school district classify more than 25% of all dropouts as well behaved high achievers. More than 50% of these students are low income and more than 40% of them are minority students.
Dr. Ford is the Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Specifically, her work focuses on: (1) recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; (2) multicultural and urban education; and (3) minority student achievement and underachievement.
Dr. Ford’s work has been recognized by many different professional organizations. She received a Research Award from the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies; an Early Career Award from The American Educational Research Association; an Early Scholar Award from The National Association for Gifted Children; and the Esteemed Scholarship Award from The National Association of Black Psychologists. She has published more than 90 articles and is the author of Reversing underachievement among gifted black students (1996) and a co-author of Multicultural gifted education (1999) and In search of the dream: Designing schools and classrooms that work for high potential students from diverse cultural backgrounds (2004).
Dr. Ford will be meeting with TAG staff and administrators during her visit, and will be speaking about multicultural education at West High School as part of a staff in-service. She is also scheduled to give a colloquium on Wednesday, February 9, in the UW Department of Counseling Psychology. On Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Ford will be giving a community presentation at Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. She will be talking about increasing the participation of at risk students in gifted and talented education. This presentation is open to all interested parents and community members. Translation will be available for Spanish, Hmong, and hearing impaired audience members. For further information, please contact Jeff Henriques, jhenriqu@wisc.edu or visit the TAG Parents website: http://tagparents.org.
You can find out more about Donna Ford by visiting her webpages: http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/sped/ford.htm

Editorial: School Board Must Show Unity – A Capital Times Editorial – January 24, 2005

In an editorial in today’s Capital Times, School Board unity is identified as a key factor before deciding on going to a referendum. I couldn’t agree more with this editorial.
At this point in their deliberations, MMSD’s School Board is not ready to make a decision to go to referendum(s), because they have more work to complete and more discussions are needed with the public before making these important decisions. And, I do not count public hearings as conversations with the public.
Board members must be united and they must be able to present a complete, viable package to the public where they can demonstrate other options considered and decisions that led them to this as the best choice for our children’s education.
What is some of the work yet to do? Before voting on Leopold, review updated options for boundary changes and school closings. You won’t have a successful vote on a new school at Leopold if you vote to go to referendum on Leopold in January and come back in February with suggested closings on the east side of Madison. That won’t work.
The “maintenance referendum” is only one part of the operating budget. School Board members need to have the complete budget, and they need to know what the estimate of all revenues are for next year. Waiting for a same service budget won’t get them there and won’t let the Board make the decisions about where scarce resources are allocated. Board members need to begin a process to look out 3-5 years and tell Madison voters what our schools need to be successful, how much that will cost and what options do we have for funding our investment in education.
As a minor aside, the administration continues to tell the board that the maintenance referendum will not cost any additional property tax dollars. Wait a minute – isn’t it the School Board’s decision about how to finance their operating budget. Why wouldn’t School Board members want the “no tax increase option” to go toward the general operating budget.
Let’s get the whole picture – our children cannot afford piecemeal approaches to decisionmaking. Our children deserve leadership and hard work from our School Board members without threats that this list will be cut if you don’t vote yes on a referendum. That option won’t cut it with the voters.
As the Capital Times Editorial writes, “…voters have a right to expect that any referendums placed before the community will have the support of all board members, including Robarts, who was re-elected by an overwhelming margin last year despite the fact that she faced an able opponent and a concerted campaign against her. Robarts is not always right, but she is never so wrong that board members should feel comfortable going into a referendum fight without her.”
Robarts’ Long Range Planning Conmmittee, which she chairs, and the public advisory committee, which she asked the board to form, have been working hard and asking good questions. The advisory committee’s discussions have been substantive and well thought out. The advisory committee’s continued work on the school and maintenance issues will make an important contribution to referendum decisions by board members.
Had Bill Clingan, who, chaired Long Range Planning Committee last year convened his committee from late December 2003 through mid-April 2004, the current members of the Long Range Planning Committee might be further ahead in the process and Leopold Elementary parents would be in a new school in Fall 2006 vs. Fall 2007. Four months of no meetings last year potentially delayed the overall process and opening of the new Leopold School by one year – that’s an unfair burden for the kids.
Continue Reading Editorial: School Board Must Show Unity

Gray Matter and the Sexes: Still a Scientific Gray Area – by Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang – NYTimes January 24, 2005

I hope scientists researching the differences been the sexes’ gray matter take more time digesting their results than Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, did before he made his comments about the innate difference between the sexes in a recent speech.
“Researchers who have explored the subject of sex differences from every conceivable angle and organ say that yes, there are a host of discrepancies between men and women…,” write Angier and Chang,
“Yet despite the desire for tidy and definitive answers to complex questions, researchers warn that the mere finding of a difference in form does not mean a difference in function or output inevitably follows.”
“We can’t get anywhere denying that there are neurological and hormonal differences between males and females, because there clearly are,” said Virginia Valian, a psychology professor at Hunter College who wrote the 1998 book “Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women.” “The trouble we have as scientists is in assessing their significance to real-life performance.”
Continue Reading Gray Matter and the Sexes: Still a Scientific Gray Area – by Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang – NYTimes January 24, 2005

San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin & No Child Left Behind

Eduwonk:

Haven’t yet had your fill of political shenanigans in California? Then keep an eye on San Diego where one of the nation’s longest serving urban superintendents is facing political trouble. National implications as this episode shows what can happen when push comes to shove on NCLB.
Superintendent Alan Bersin is poised to reorganize several of the city’s chronically underperforming schools. At two of the three schools a majority of teachers have voted to make the schools charter schools to help facilitate this and at all three 60-80 percent of parents voted to do the same. Remember, these are not schools that didn’t do well “on a single test” but schools that have not done right by students for years.

Continue reading

The Art of Education Success by Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond

Rabkin and Redmond wrote in the Washington Post on January 8, 2005 that “…the arts are not just affective and expressive. They are also deeply cognitive.”
Districts with music and art curriculum standards and benchmarks tied to other curriculum see improved test scores. The research is showing more and more that children’s learning directly benefits from music and art curriculum.
The authors note that “Successful programs in Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere have proven that arts integration is within the reach of most schools and districts. Now research is showing that connecting the arts to learning across the curriculum is a strategy that helps close the achievement gap and make schools happier places by moving beyond a crippling focus on basics and discipline. It is time for more districts and schools to make use of this strategy.”
MMSD’s fine arts teachers know this and gear their curriculum to provide student’s with the benefits in learning from music and art education. If MMSD administration narrowly focuses on reading, math, science, etc., scores and not what contributes to children learning experiences being successful, administrators will miss the benefits of the arts.
Children and teachers have been telling them for the past several years how music and art benefit children’s learning. Hopefully, they are listening.

Continue reading

Arts Are a Core Subject Under No Child Left Behind – Flexibility for Federal Funding of the Arts Exists

In an August Letter to ALL superintendents across the country, Secretary Paige (Dept. of Education) stated that the arts are a core subject area of No Child Left Behind, provided research that demonstrates children who are more engaged in the arts do better on tests, and offered guidance on flexibility, funding for arts
Noting that the arts are a core subject under the No Child Left Behind Act, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has issued guidance on the law’s funding and flexibility that can be used to improve art education and teacher quality, particularly as a means to improve the educational achievement of economically disadvantaged students through the arts.
The letter cites research that shows arts teaching and learning can increase students’ cognitive and social development and serve as a “critical link” to help students develop crucial thinking skills and become motivated to achieve at higher levels. Research also shows that students who are highly involved in the arts earn better grades and perform better on standardized tests.
Secretary Paige’s letter also reminds superintendents about the law’s flexibility and the funding available to support core subjects through programs supported by the No Child Left Behind Act, including: Title I funds to improve the academic achievement of the neediest students; the Comprehensive School Reform program; and Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants to provide professional development for teachers of the arts.
In Arizona, for example, as part of Superintendent Tom Horne’s current “content-rich curriculum” initiative, $4 million in Comprehensive School Reform (Title I, Part F) funds are supporting arts education at 43 current Comprehensive School Reform schools throughout the state. Additional Arizona Arts Education Initiative school sites are being supported with Title V (Innovative Programs) funding under NCLB.
The City of Madison needs to ask what available funding for the arts under NCLB the Madison Metropolitan District has pursued.
Continue Reading “US Department of Education Press Release: Arts are a Core Subject Under No Child Left Behind”

MUSIC ADVOCACY: Caring Enough to Put the Student First by Dr. Benham

Dr. John Benham, writing on www.supportmusic.com says, “Music Education Advocacy. The concept can make us indignant. Why should anything so valuable to the education of every child need to be defended?”
He continues, “If you�re a parent of a young person interested in playing music, you�ve already experienced first-hand the positive impact of this sort of challenge. If you�re a member of the community with a love of music, you know how much it has benefited you.
But the truth is, we have no choice but to defend school music programs. In a time of drastic reductions in school budgets, music can sometimes be misunderstood as not core to an academic curriculum. But we do know that participation in music is vital to a young person�s academic and social development.”
Advocacy for music education for students is not about what we teach children as much as it is about what children are learning and music education is fundamental to that.
Continue Reading “MUSIC ADVOCACY: Caring Enough to Put the Students First” – Dr. John Benham

Report on Rainwater meeting about East principal selection

An author, asking to remain anonymous, prepared a summary of the meeting on January 18, when Superintendent Rainwater met with community members and discussed the process for selecting a new principal at East High School. The author concluded:
“If you believe that our superintendent cares about East and wants to get it right this time (like he finally did at Sherman and Black Hawk), then you left the meeting feeling good. If you question the process and his decision-making ability given some of his poor choices in the past, you probably left the meeting feeling disappointed, which is mostly what I heard. Nothing has changed.”
“It was not said, but we pay for the mistakes for a very long time. A great principal can turn a school around in weeks, but a bad principal or several principals for several years can really hurt the students going through those schools. It is not just failing to master academics, but their feeling of connection gets hurt as well. It could be argued that some of the problems East is having today stem not only from the void at the top at East, but also from the fact that two of its feeder middle schools and some of its feeder elementary schools have been struggling due to poor leadership.”
You can read the full report by clicking
Report on meeting with Rainwater on East Principal Selection.
Ed Blume
ps. No I didn’t write the report. I didn’t attend the meeting. Ed

Winkler Letter to Keys & School Board on Administrator Contracts

Madison School Board Candidate, Parent and activist Lawrence Winkler forwarded a letter to Board President Bill Keys regarding Madison School’s budget process if cuts must be made for the 2005-2006 School Year.
Winkler provides some useful background information and offers a suggestion to move forward with an improved decision making process. Click below to read his letter or here for a 37K pdf print version.

Continue reading

Music To His Ears by Sandy Cullen, WI State Journal

Janitor Directs Generosity To East High, Trades His Broom For Baton Tonight by Sandy Cullen, January 13,2005, WI State Journal
Jim Ely loves music and the arts.
He also loves Madison East High School.
It’s where he and his wife, Judy, who died of ovarian cancer in February 2003, were high school sweethearts more than 30 years ago, when he took her to his prom and she took him to the TWIRP (The Woman Is Required to Pay) dance.
It’s where they worked together on the 1969 production of “Oklahoma!”
Read the entire article,
Music to His Ears

Dane County School Funding Forum Followup

Margaret Stumpf sent a followup message to the recent Dane County School Funding Forum.

Please check with Channel 10 on the televised version of the State Budget Information Seminar held on WED, Jan 12 at Monona Grove HIgh School if you did not attend. It was very informational. I also have hard copies (as daoe Amy through me) of the infor passed out at the meeting.
All are encouraged to contact Governor Doyle IMMEDIATELY (as the budget is in the works) to encourage him to accept Superintendent Burmeister’s and the Governor’s Task Force on Educational Excellence’s proposals for school fuding.
Letters can be sent to:
Governor Jim Doyle (web email link)
Officer of the Governor
115 East
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
608-266-1212
608-267-6790 (TTY
608-267-8983 (FAX)
They can be sent individually or en mass. As we all know, a lot of what individual districts are able to do is based on state aid, and the lack of in areas that the state had committed to (such as 2/3 special ed funding) that was later revoked.

Update on Hiring MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator – Art Rainwater Briefs Board on Ongoing Delay and Reposting of Position with Fewer Requirements

Art Rainwater informed MMSD School Board members on January 10, 2005 that the Fine Arts Coordinator position would be reposted. Why? It’s unclear, as the following quicktime movie shows. There were about 9 candidates.
Members on the committee, who included MMSD and public representatives, said they forwarded two qualified candidates for the next step toward hiring. Why wasn’t one of those people hired?
Art Rainwater says that the license requirement for the position will be removed to attract a broader category of candiate. My question is – possibly a less qualified candidate? There has been no public notice of a substantive change in the responsibilities of this position. You would think that professionals in the field and the arts community would be involved in major changes were being considered. Read Mariel Wozniakl for information on how removing a license can be problemmatic and what experience an MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator needs to have.
Video of Art Rainwater’s Update on Hiring of Fine Arts Coordinator to the MMSD School Board on Monday, January 10, 2005

A Local Music Coalition – Madison Needs Its Own Music Coalition

“…in my view it is the most effective way to ensure that your school district provides equal educational opportunities for all of its students to participate in the making of music!” Dr. Benham exclaims for children in his recent commentary on music advocacy, “An effective local music coalition holds a school district accountable for student-centered decision making.”
Some of the leading reasons Dr. Benham identifies for a local music coalition include:
* A local coalition places the student back to the center of the decision-making process.
* A local coalition identifies the music program as an integral part of the community.
* A local coalition unifies the music program as a unified district-wide curriculum.
* A local coalition promotes music education, not just band, choir, orchestra, or general music.
* A local coalition is a community organization that incorporates all of its constituents in the support of music making.
* A local coalition provides for bringing music into all of life.
* A local coalition puts the “public” in Public Education!
Continue Reading “The Local Music Coalition – Dr. John Benham”

Coaching in Wisconsin – Worth it?

Coaching in Wisconsin – Worth it?

Pearly Kiley – wishoops.net [PDF Version 103K]

“With all this talent, why aren�t we winning more games?”
“My kid averaged 20 points in summer league, why isn�t he playing more?”
“Why are we walking the ball up the floor all the time?”
“I wish we had the old coach back.”
These unfounded sentiments were also a major reason why over 80 coaches
chose to resign, were relieved of duty or retired since last season.
There are coaches who point to AAU basketball and all its dramatically improving impact. Some blame school administrators for showing more allegiance to parents than them in disputes over individual roles and playing time. Still others say it takes too much time � and impossible patience � to deal with the increasingly overzealous parent.
�At the high school level, the rewards aren�t tangible,� said former Waupaca coach Tim Locum, who resigned after last season and is currently an assistant coach at UW-Oshkosh.

Continue reading

Maintenance Referendum: Long Range Planning Meeting Tonight

The Madison School Board’s Long Range Planning Committee is holding a public hearing on the proposed maintenance referendum (one of potentially 3 referendums this spring) Wednesday night, January 19, 2005 @ 6:00p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, McDaniels Auditorium.
I’ve emailed the MMSD TV folks to see if they are broadcasting this event, but have not heard back from them. I will post broadcast information here upon receipt.
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 West Dayton Street
Madison WI 53703-1995 [Map]

Kobza letter to Keys: Don’t cut teachers

Madison School Board Candidate, Parent and PTO activist Lawrie Kobza forwarded a letter to Board President Bill Keys regarding Madison Schools financial priorities if cuts must be made for the 2005-2006 School Year.
In past years, the district limited its budget options when it passed on non-renewal of administrator contracts by February 1 (the MMSD is required to provide six months non-renewal notice prior to the July 1 administrative contract start date).
This date, February 1, passes long before detailed public discussions begin on the next budget. Inevitably as cuts, or reductions in the increase must be made, school staff such as teachers and custodians (or wrestling, or strings in 2004) are the target (because the administrative contracts have not been given the required six month non-renewal notice).
Kobza’s letter (28K PDF) & Linda Hall’s Administrative contract background 2 pager. (77K PDF)

California Bilingual Litmus Test

Susan Estrich – former Dukakis campaign manager and USC Professor takes California Democrats to task for pushing out one of their own over bilingual education:

But unlike much of Silicon Valley, he is a passionate Democrat, and his issue is public education. He has twice served as president of the State Board of Education. The idea that Democrats could reject him had me checking the local headlines this morning twice, to make sure that this wasn’t some joke edition. Have these people lost their minds? This is the most talented guy on the team, not to mention that he’s responsible for about $15 million to Democratic campaigns in the last couple of cycles.
Then I got it. Cut to the chase.
This isn’t about qualifications or performance. So what if he killed himself for the last five years working on the Board of Education, running all over the state encouraging charter schools, using his own money when necessary to help provide start-up funds, while running a multimillion dollar business as his day job?
He failed the bilingual education litmus test.

Mickey Kaus has more.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate: Todd Stelzel


I had an opportunity to visit recently with Black Earth resident, Wisconsin Heights teacher and Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Todd Stelzel. I’ve posted a 13 minute video clip and mp3 audio file where Stelzel discuss his background, candidacy and asks for our vote. Following are a number of fat links to information about Stelzel, who recently completed his Masters Degree at Edgewood College in Madison. Fat Links (click on the icons):

Look for an interview with another candidate, Dr. Paul Yvarra soon. I’ve not heard from incumbent Madison resident Elizabeth Burmaster or Gregg Underheim. If I do, I will post their interviews as well.

There�s something deeply wrong here.

In a letter to the editor of Isthmus UW Psychology Professor Mark Seidenberg wrote, “There�s something deeply wrong here. The educational establishment has embraced methods for teaching reading that have a weak scientific basis and are counterproductive for many beginning readers. They then develop a very expensive remedial reading program to fix the problems created by these instructional methods. Why not do it right the first time?” To read the full text of the letter go to
Dr. Seidenberg’s letter

New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned – Removes Professional License Requirements by Dr. Mariel Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator

I was concerned and confused as I listened on Monday night to Superintendent Rainwater inform the School Board that the position description posted for the Fine Arts Coordinator was being reposted without a license requirement so that more applicants could be included. The Fine Arts Coordinator oversees the design and implementation of the District’s Fine Arts curriculum, and this position has an important community role with the City’s varied fine arts organizations.
All other coordinators require a license #10 and so should the Fine Arts Coordinator position. Licenses insure that an applicant has met certain standards and is meant to protect against less qualified applicants being hired.
“The points in the posting indicate a change in the position of a full-time Coordinator of Fine Arts,” Dr. Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator pointed out in a recent essay. “While educational change is legitimate, a new role for the Coordinator of Fine Arts and reasons for change should not only be well known by the community, but by arts education specialists who should be involved in those changes. This city values education which includes designated arts instruction in its schools and its enhancement by the arts and other resources in the community. We need to remember that teachers, principals, and superintendents are public servants and should fulfill the community’s educational goals.”
What continues to be lacking in the District’s decisionmaking about Fine Arts education is the ongoing lack of an open process that includes professionals in the field and the community so that best choices can be made for children’s learning.
Dr. Wozniak notes, “The responsibility of the board of education is to make informed decisions for the education of its children with accountability and commitment to its electorate.” This is not possible at MMSD, because decisions about Fine Arts education are being made behind closed doors by a handful of administrators and then announced to the board of education as fact.
Download Dr. Wozniak’s Complete Essay: New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned – Downgrades Professional Requirements

Focus is on education

Patricia Simms and Phil Brinkman Wisconsin State Journal
January 13, 2005
Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday used his State of the State speech to put forward a potent “education agenda” for Wisconsin.
It included:
� Increasing math and science requirements for high school graduation.
� Giving school districts more money for 4-year-old kindergarten and for reducing class size in the early grades.
� Rating child-care providers on quality as he promised last May.
Continue Reading “Focus in on Education”

Cherokee Middle School PTO Priorities

The Cherokee PTO recently forwarded their top 5 Madison School District Priorities:

  • Long range planning, especially to include a plan for the increased numbers of students who will be attending Cherokee and West.
  • Maintaining a challenging level of curriculum while providing services to an increased number of students with diverse needs (TAG, music, reading specialists, ESL, special needs and children living in poverty were especially mentioned as being areas in need of services).
  • Insuring a safe and nurturing environment (to include physical safety, cultural understanding and a positive climate).
  • Purchasing and maintaining needed equipment and materials (there was a discussion about teacher’s requests to include basic classroom materials and the difficulty in funding new equipment such as the FOSS science kits required by the district).
  • Preserving facility maintenance/repair while maintaining the small class sizes as we deal with issues of growth.

Is My Music Program Vulnerable to Cuts? – Dr. John Benham

As one superintendent stated, “There is no group of people more capable of rallying immediate and effective advocacy than a well-organized music coalition!” John Benham, music education advocate, reminds his readers in his December 15th column on www.supportmusic.com.
Dr. Benham urges his readers to become active participants in the education decision-making process. “In the face of what appears to have become a national trend to target music programs for reduction, it becomes the responsibility of the music advocate to stay informed by active participation in the decision-making process.” he advises, “We must encourage and/or remind parents and other advocates that the school district really belongs to the community. We must become educated in school polity, empowering the people to ensure student-centered decisions.”
Continue Reading “Is My Music Program Vulnerable to Cuts? – Dr. John Benham”

Panel Discussion on Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Students

Come listen to a panel of experts discuss the social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students. Diagnostic, assessment, treatment/intervention, educational, parenting and theoretical issues will be addressed. Resources will be shared. This program is intended for parents of children within the full range of high ability (i.e., not only the profoundly gifted).
This event will be held on Thursday, January 13 in McDaniels Auditorium of the Doyle Administration Building at 7:00 p.m. Please note that this is a location change from Room 209.
Please note: Questions for the panelists are heartily encouraged. Questions may be submitted before the meeting at tagparents@tagparents.org.

Continue reading

What is the Single Most Important Issue in Music Advocacy – YOU! by Dr. John Benham

SupportMusic.com is a website storehouse of resources for defending music education in schools. In December, this website began a weekly blog on advocacy for music education by Dr. John Benham, who is President of Music in World Cultures, Inc. and Director of Graduate Studies in Music at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In his December 8th blog, Dr. Benham writes that “In over 20 years as a consultant for music advocacy I have never seen a music program cut when there was a well-organized and cohesive support group.
There is no place where your participation has more immediate impact than in your school district. Your participation is vital to the health of your music program.
It is quite simple: Your participation is a “YES” vote, providing music making opportunities for the students in your district. Your failure to participate is a “NO” vote, even if by default.”
Continue Reading “What is the Single Most Important Issue in Music Advocacy – YOU!”

Kobza announces for school board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2005
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Lawrie Kobza 608 283-1788
KOBZA ANNOUNCES FOR MADISON SCHOOL BOARD
Seeks Improved District Decision-Making
MADISON�Lawrie Kobza, a school activist for over a decade,
announced her candidacy for the Madison Metropolitan School District
Board District 6 seat today. Submitting the maximum 200 nomination
signatures, Kobza launched her campaign with a promise to improve
District decision-making.
“When resources are limited, it is especially important to make good
decisions “, Kobza said. “My professional and community experience
has taught me that the best decisions come from listening to a variety of views, asking tough questions, and carefully considering the possible alternatives. I think the School Board needs to do a better job of this.”
A first-time candidate, Ms. Kobza served as President or Vice
President of the Sherman School parent group since 1998; she was a
2004 recipient of the North Star Award from the Northside Planning
Council for her service to schools on Madison’s north side.
Ms. Kobza has three children in the Madison schools: two sons attend
East High School and her daughter attends Sherman Middle School. With husband Peter Oppeneer, she is an active supporter of Northside youth soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball.
“In allocating our limited resources, I want to be sure services
for our kids are preserved while taking a fresh look at how we might
be more efficient and effective,” Kobza said. “I will seek
out the best information with an open mind to make sure we have a
clear picture of all available alternatives in these tight economic
times.”
Ms. Kobza is an attorney and partner with the Boardman Law Firm in
Madison, concentrating in municipal law with an emphasis on utility
and environmental issues. She is a graduate of UW-Madison Law School
and the UW-Madison Business School. Madison Magazine named her a top
attorney in environmental law for 2005.
END
Authorized and paid for by Lawrie Kobza for School Board, Barbara
Schrank, Treasurer

Hewlett Foundation/RAND Study on California’s K-12 System

The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation sponsored a RAND Education study of the California K-12 System, released today. Press Release | Full Document [900K PDF].

California’s public school system lags behind most of the nation on almost every objective measurement of student achievement, funding, teacher qualifications and school facilities, according to a new RAND Corporation analysis that is the first comprehensive examination of measurable dimensions of the state’s education system.

TABOR – Why did Colorado Approve it?

I posted a series of links to Colorado’s TABOR experience (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) here. One of the articles I linked to demonstrates the root cause of TABOR type laws: “The problem: From 1983 to ’92, spending by Colorado state government rose by 97%, while inflation rose 29.7% and the state’s population increased by 10.4%”.
I think it’s critical for the Madison School District to publish detailed revenue and spending data over the past decade as part the upcoming referendum process. As far as I can tell, Madison School spending was $194M in 1994 and grew to $307M+ in 2004 with roughly a similar number of students. I’ll post the actual year to year numbers, as I asked for here, once we obtain them….

Milwaukee Area School Chiefs Pay Outpaces Teachers

Amy Hetzner:

More than three of every four school districts paid their superintendents more in 2003-’04, when measured against what the average teacher was paid, than they did in the 1995-’96 school year, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of data reported to the state.
In addition, with perks such as payments to tax-sheltered annuities added in, fringe benefits for superintendents in about half the five-county Milwaukee area districts have increased at a higher rate than their teachers’ benefits. But while rising costs for teachers’ health insurance and pensions have strained contract negotiations, escalating superintendent benefits have gotten little attention.
All of this has happened despite a provision in state law that requires school boards to restrict compensation raises for school administrators to 3.8% or the same percentage increase given to teachers the prior year.
Since the law was enacted in 1993, the Legislature has approved enough loopholes that the law can be largely ignored. There also is apparently no oversight other than local school boards and their voters.
“I mean, so what? So you break the rule,” said Roger Danielsen, a member of the Waukesha School Board, which approved a 15.9% salary increase for its superintendent this year. “I don’t think there’s any enforcement, although we’re trying to stay true to the (teachers’) package.”

I wonder what the data looks like around Madison?

MMSD threw away “crackerjack” administrator

Capital Times Editor Dave Zweifel recently praised former Lapham principal Barb Thompson, calling her a “crackerjack school superintendent” for the astonishingly successful commuity-wide holiday luncheon in New Glarus, just as she organized a similar and equally popular holiday luncheon at Lapham.
By contrast MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater passed over Thompson in the search to replace East High Principal Milt McPike, instead hiring and then firing a woman who could not lead East.
Read Zweifel’s article at New Glarus shows spirit of the season.