Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has sent a letter to members of the Joint Finance Committee and the Milwaukee legislative delegation outlining his concerns regarding funding for public K-12 education.
Perhaps Mayor Dave would like to take a stab at such a message?
From The Capital Times, Monday, June 6
Changes coming in music, art classes
The arts hit hardest in teacher layoffs
By Cristina Daglas
June 6, 2005
Lapham Elementary School music teacher Lynn Najem and art teacher Sally Behr will keep their jobs next year, but their classrooms won’t be what they have been.
Next year, both Behr and Najem will be teaching classes of approximately 22 students in comparison to the previous 15.
The total number of students they teach is not increasing, but the number of classes offered is decreasing. The approximately 230 kindergarten through second-grade students at Lapham will remain the same.
“They think of us as fancy recess … a holding tank,” Najem said. “This is typical of the School Board.”
Continue reading Art Attack at Lapham School
Change is hard! This fact holds true to most businesses or organizations including the Madison Metropolitan School District. Though the MMSD is not dying in the sense of being gone forever, the failure of the operating referendum on May 24th has given the school district the opportunity to develop new service delivery models that may enhance student opportunities for success.
Continue reading Change Is Hard
Amy Hetzner takes a look at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s proposal forwarded to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
Madison East High School parents, staff, and community members have been working since the beginning of 2005 to create an advocacy and support organization for this key East side school. The group was named at the June 2 meeting:
EAST HIGH UNITED
A parent-teacher-staff-student-community organization
The organization meets as a whole in the East High School cafeteria on the second Thursday of each month. (There is no July meeting, the next meeting is August 11).
In addition, working groups focussed on specific initiatives meet at a time agreed upon by members of those groups. A list of existing and emerging working groups is contained in this report from the June 2 meeting.
Continue reading East High United – June 2 meeting outcomes
Robert Slavin of John Hopkins reports on current educational models that are supported by scientific evidence, and makes recommendations.
Despite some recent improvements, the academic achievement of American students
remains below that of those in most industrialized nations, and the gap between African
American and Hispanic students and White students remains substantial. For many years, the
main policy response has been to emphasize accountability, and No Child Left Behind has added
further to this trend. There is much controversy about the effects of accountability systems, but
they have had little impact on the core technology of teaching: Instruction, curriculum, and
This paper argues that genuine reform in American education depends on a movement
toward evidence-based practice, using the findings of rigorous research to guide educational
practices and policies. No Child Left Behind gives a rhetorical boost to this concept, exhorting
educators to use programs and practices “based on scientifically-based research.” In practice,
however, programs that particularly emphasize research-based practice, such as Reading First,
have instead supported programs and practices (such as traditional basal reading textbooks) that
have never been evaluated, while ignoring well-evaluated programs. The same is true of the
earlier Comprehensive School Reform program, which was intended for “proven,
comprehensive” programs but has instead primarily supported unresearched programs.
This paper reviews research on programs that already have strong evidence of
effectiveness. Programs with strong evidence of effectiveness fell into the following categories.
1. Comprehensive school reform models, which provide professional development and
materials to improve entire schools. Research particularly supports Success for All and
Direct Instruction, but smaller numbers of studies support several additional models
including the School Development Program, America’s Choice and Modern Red
2. Instructional technology. Research supports integrated learning systems in mathematics.
Word processing has been found to improve writing achievement.
3. Cooperative learning programs engage students in small groups to help each other learn.
Many studies support this strategy in elementary and secondary math, reading, and other
4. Innovative mathematics programs. The first What Works Clearinghouse report supported
research on two technology-based programs, Cognitive Tutor and I Can Learn, in middle
schools. Elementary programs such as Cognitively Guided Instruction and Project SEED
also have strong evidence of effectiveness.
5. Innovative elementary reading programs having strong evidence of effectiveness include
Success for All and Direct Instruction, as well as Reciprocal Teaching and Cooperative
Integrated Reading and Composition.
6. Tutoring programs in reading, especially Reading Recovery, have rigorous evaluations
showing their effectiveness.
7. Dropout prevention programs, such as the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and Alas,
have good evidence of effectiveness.
See Full Report
New York Times editorial by Matt Miller:
Speaking just between us – between one who writes columns and those who read them – I’ve had this nagging question about the whole enterprise we’re engaged in.
Is persuasion dead? And if so, does it matter?
The significance of this query goes beyond the feelings of futility I’ll suffer if it turns out I’ve wasted my life on work that is useless. This is bigger than one writer’s insecurities. Is it possible in America today to convince anyone of anything he doesn’t already believe? If so, are there enough places where this mingling of minds occurs to sustain a democracy?
The signs are not good. Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling “talking points.” Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let’s face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash.
By contrast, marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what’s right in the other side’s argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.
See full editorial
David Blunkett, the Education Secretary who introduced the Literacy Strategy, promised to resign in 2002 unless 80 per cent met the expected standard of English on leaving primary school. The target has never been met, but Mr Blunkett long ago moved on to higher things. Instead, it is the nation’s children who have suffered: between 1998 and 2005, well over a million children have failed to achieve basic standards of literacy. A quarter of a million 11-year-olds are unable to read and write properly.
Yet, as Mr Burkhard and the CPS reported recently, if schools had been allowed to employ the phonics method, illiteracy at age 11 might have been eradicated altogether. Judging by tests in Clackmannanshire, where synthetic phonics have been taught since 1998, the method reduces the rate of reading failure to near zero. The evidence suggests that pupils taught using phonics are over three years ahead of their peers taught by other techniques.
The SUN and Joanne Jacobs have more. I agree with the Telegraph’s perspective on decentraliziation vs. a top down approach.
Board member Ruth Robarts said the mistake was “clearly (Price’s) responsibility” but added that it was unclear whether he would face any real consequences for it.
She mentioned a case a few years ago when the district fired several custodians because Price charged them with “stealing time,” or checking out before their assigned hours. They were fired shortly before Thanksgiving, but were brought back after it was found they were reporting to work early with their supervisors’ approval.
Robarts said those workers faced the most severe form of punishment, while it’s not clear that Price will face anything of the same scale.
She called the incorrect ballots “a very human kind of error,” but added that “you have to be extremely careful, and someone at (Price’s) level knows that.”
Pat Smith, the president of AFSCME Local 60, said he clearly remembers the fight when Price fired 13 custodians. “If one of my Local 60 members makes a costly mistake, hopefully they’ll be treated as good as Roger,” Smith said.
Lord knows, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. I hope the District treats everyone the same in this respect.
Posted in PDF format here
– Expect several public appearances related to the Sherman strings/band programs
– Articulation of committee goals for 05-06
– Recommendations regarding transfer of parcels from Middleton-Cross Plains and Verona districts and related boundary changes
– Purchasing recommendations
WKOW-TV reports on the “flawed election ballots for last week’s Madison School District referendum.”
Milwaukee Superintendent William G. Andrekopoulos wrote a letter (PDF) to the members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on school funding:
On May 26, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors passed its budget for the 2005-2006 school year. The budget successfully holds the line on taxes with a levy increase of less than one percent.
However, it also marks another year in a long line of years, where harmful cuts will be made to programs. Schools will have fewer resources and students will have fewer opportunities to engage in a full range of educational activities.
I wrote to you by e-mail previously and invited you to submit on the blog goals for the Human Services Committee, which you chair.
I have not yet received a response.
You may recall that I wrote that schoolinfosystem.org will soon launch a page dedicated to the committees of the Board. We hope to post the following items for each committee:
* Goals for the coming year, as set by each chair or committee.
* Meeting agendas.
* Meeting minutes.
* Documents provided to the committee. (We’d like to post these prior to the committee meetings.)
* Notes and videos of the committees if people submit any to the blog.
I’m once again inviting you to provide the goals that the Human Resources Committee will pursue in the coming year. You can post them directly by asking Jim Zellmer to give you a password so that you can post, or you can send the goals to me, and I’ll post them for you.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Please e-mail the school board. Simply say, “I do not agree with the plan to move Sherman’s curricular performance music classes to an afterschool, 8th hour format. Our children deserve to have their school academic curricular classes during the day not after school.”
And sign your name. It’s as easy as that. School Board members can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader Rebecca Stockwell emailed this link to a PDF document published by the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns (Westchester County, NY) after a renovation & expansion referendum failed. The newsletter begins:
The referendum was to finance a major school facilities renovation and expansion project. The proposal, which was the result of more than two years of analyzing our facilities needs and evaluating options for addressing them, was defeated by a vote of about 1200 to 1000.
Factors that appear to have contributed to the “no” vote include 1) concern about the cost of the project in a community that had not faced a major facilities referendum in 50 years, 2) some disagreement with the scope and/or conceptual design elements of the project, 3) some confusion and mis- trust over the district’s analysis of the tax implications, and 4) the perception by some that they had not had an adequate opportunity to participate in or be fully informed about the process leading up to the project referendum.
At the same time, feedback also strongly indicated widespread support across all segments of our population for continuing to take a long-range, comprehensive approach in addressing our facilities needs.
We have listened carefully to the feedback.
Continue reading NY School Board Actions After a Failed Renovation & Expansion Referendum
The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about
- what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and
- who makes those decisions.
It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day.
Making changes that seem to be by fiat may be desirable to the person in charge, but the students and parents are the school’s and district’s customers – please listen to us at the start of a process, let us have time to have meaningful input and comment! Isn’t it the School board who are the district’s policymakers, especially curriculum policy and what defines a school day. Those are the basics! A longer school day might make sense – but not by what appears and feels like fiat and not without public discussions, deliberations and decisions by our School Board.
Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool
The Scarsdale (NY) schools have a bond vote June 15. Supporters have published a website, that includes video clips, a FAQ and voter information. This site supports the bond issue, but also includes quite a bit of information. Transparency on these matters is vital, I believe to any hope of success.
Peter T. Kilborn:
Ms. Link and her husband, Jim, 42, a financial services sales manager for the Wachovia Corporation of Charlotte, N.C., belong to a growing segment of the upper middle class, executive gypsies. The shock troops of companies that continually expand across the country and abroad, they move every few years, from St. Louis to Seattle to Singapore, one satellite suburb to another, hopscotching across islands far from the working class and the urban poor.
As a subgroup, relos are economically homogenous, with midcareer incomes starting at $100,000 a year. Most are white. Some find the salaries and perks compensating; the developments that cater to them come with big houses, schools with top SAT scores, parks for youth sports and upscale shopping strips.
I found this article quite interesting, particularily the choice this family made with respect to their next move (an older, established neighborhood).
Mary H. Fisher, “Tax Worries Didn’t Justify a No Vote” and Rick Berg, “Taxpayers made rational choice with ‘no’ votes on referendums”:
Continue reading Fisher & Berg on the Referenda
This information was given to Madison School Board members by Joe Quick
Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos warned Tuesday that if limits on how much Wisconsin school districts can increase their spending are held down by the Legislature, dozens of additional teaching positions in city schools will be cut.
The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is expected in the next few days to take up proposals to allow school districts to increase their spending over the next two years, but by amounts that are smaller than what Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed.
Read the full article at this link.
“A plan to make band and orchestra classes at Sherman Middle School an after-school program next year is upsetting parents and other music supporters in the Madison School District,” according to a story by Sandy Cullen in the Wisconsin State Journal.