Reader Rosanne Lindsay emails:
On Food Policy: I would encourage MMSD to investigate the recent studies that attribute a poor diet, high in sugars and trans fats to hyperactive behavior. The more we learn about food additives, the more we realize its negative affect on behavior and health in general. Please go to http://www.feingold.org/ or alternatively look at a clear example of what a healthy food program can accomplish in improved focus and behavior in schools, as seen in our own backyard, Appleton, WI.
Name Rosanne Lindsay E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader Paul Malischke emails:
Board of Education: Common Council Liaison Committee Date: April 18, 2006
Here is a suggestion to improve election day: schedule a staff development day (no school for students) for the November gubernatorial and presidential election days, when there is a very high voter turnout. This would make it easier to find an appropriate room for the polls. Previously, schools have placed equipment and voters in hallways where there is heavy student traffic; or used classrooms, which disrupt classes.
An additional advantage to this schedule proposal is that it will eliminate the extra election-day security concerns for students generated by the many people entering the school to vote. An additional safety concern is the increased vehicular traffic around the school on election day.
Paul Malischke E-mail: email@example.com
A good teacher friend emailed this article: Nicholas Kristof:
Suppose Colin Powell tires of giving $100,000-a-pop speeches and wants to teach high school social studies. Suppose Meryl Streep has a hankering to teach drama.
Alas, they would be “unqualified” for a public school. Elite private schools would snap them up, of course, but public schools that are begging for teachers would have to turn them away because they don’t have teacher certification.
That’s an absurd snarl in our education bureaucracy. Let’s relax the barriers so people can enter teaching more easily, either right out of college or later as a midcareer switch.
The Milwaukee Public Schools recently posted their 2006/2007 budget. Alan Borsuk has more:
Citing the intensifying impact of poverty on the lives of students, Milwaukee School Superintendent William Andrekopoulos unveiled a budget proposal Friday for the 2006-’07 school year that increases health and nutrition programs for students.
Mitch Henck interviewed Carol Carstensen and Nan Brien this morning. They discussed the District’s 06/07 planned budget, health care spending, local property taxes and Monday’s approval of an 856K electrical upgrade to Sennett Middle School that was $397,000 over the estimated cost, funded by the maintenance referendum (I’ve not seen any discussion of this in the local media [Cap Times | Channel3000]. Excerpt: 5.7MB MP3 file.
The property tax discussion is interesting as there are many factors that affect what a homeowner pays for schools including:
- redistributed state taxes (“aid” – via income, sales and other taxes/fees), # of students (the district’s taxing/spending authority follows students numbers. Losing students is expensive.),
- assessed value changes (some communities like Madison reassess annually, while others, such as Fitchburg are on a much less frequent schedule) and
- Fund 80 – district spending that is not constrained by state revenue caps.
I’m glad Carol, Nan and others are discussing these issues. I hope we see more of this.
The foundation awards high school seniors more than $500,000 in cash prizes each year for achievement in the performing, literary and visual arts. It also nominates presidential scholars in the arts, and some colleges refer to its rosters for recruitment.
Yet many people have never heard of the foundation.
“That’s what I was surprised about,” said Grace Weber, a winner in voice who attends Pius XI High School in Milwaukee. “People outside the art world don’t know about it.”
Billy Buss, a winner in jazz trumpet and a senior at Berkeley High School in California, added, “My friends only cared I was winning a lot of money.”
National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts website. 2007 registration is open.
In an e-mail to the Board of Education, Roger Price admitted a serious error in the budget documents given to the board only three days ago:
I incorrectly classified some professional positions as administrators and some supervisory positions as clerical.
Price attached a corrected Excel table to show the FTEs in the revised “balanced budget.”
I’ve taken Price’s revised “balanced budget” FTEs and compared them to the current year FTEs in a second Excel table.
Initially, Price’s table show and INCREASE of 5.38 FTE clerical positions. Now he shows a DECREASE of 16.32. His original table showed a DECREASE of 22.70 supervisor FTEs. Now he shows a decrease of 1. For administrators, the original table showed an INCREASE of 2.50. His table now shows a DECREASE of 3.00.
You have to wonder how many other figures are wrong. You have to wonder whether the rest of the budget figures need to be changed throughout the 99-page Financial Summaries document to reflect the errors.
And now the MOST AMAZING CHANGE! Price’s new chart includes the seven members of the board in the FTEs. This has NEVER been done previously, and Price gave no reason in his memo to explain the sudden need to add the board members to the FTEs.
This budget process has GOT TO CHANGE!
Remember, this is the same Roger Price who couldn’t produce a budget on time last year, and then needed hundreds of hours of staff overtime to produce the budget at the last minute! This is the same Roger Price who cost the district tens of thousands of dollars to reprint referendum ballots because of “miscommunication”.
Via a Johnny Winston, Jr. email:
On Saturday May 6th, 2006 the 100 Black Men of Madison presents its Annual African American History Challenge Bowl at 8:30 a.m. This event will be located at 545 W. Dayton St. in Madison at the MMSD Doyle Administration Building, McDaniels Auditorium.
The African American History Challenge Bowl is a competition where teams of middle and high school students from the Madison School District and Edgewood answer questions based on African American history. Winners of the local contest are awarded savings bonds and an all expense paid trip to the national competition where they will compete against other chapters of the 100 Black Men of America in Atlanta, Georgia.
This event is free to the public. We are encouraging our community to attend. This event will televised live on MMSD Cable Channel 10.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz spoke at yesterday’s Rotary club meeting. His 3416 word state of the city speech included 159 directly related to our local public schools:
8. We need to work more seamlessly to maintain our excellent public school system.
Our public schools have recently been ranked the third best in the nation. Yet, they face unprecedented challenges as they work to educate more children that come from impoverished families and more children with special needs. I am very aware that we elect a school board to make these decisions and it is not my intent to overstep my authority, but I do recognize that good schools are vital ingredients in healthy neighborhoods. We will renew our efforts to work with the school district, with parents and teachers to make sure that city government and the schools are pulling together, not working at cross purposes. For instance, the decisions the City regarding new housing development has a significant impact on school attendance and boundary issues. Our recently-adopted Comprehensive Plan notes the importance of city and school planning staff working together.
Kristian Knutsen attended the speech.
The Campaign for College Opportunity:
Can California Keep it’s Competitive Edge?
California has long been regarded as a center of innovation and industry. The state ranks as the sixth largest economy in the world, and much of this economic success has been driven by a highly-educated workforce.
Yet, looking ahead, California’s competitive advantage – and therefore our economic vitality and quality of life – may be at risk. California’s population is growing in regions of the state and among ethnic groups with lower levels of educational attainment.
“Keeping California’s Edge: The Growing Demand for Highly Educated Workers,” is a new study commissioned by the Campaign for College Opportunity and researched by economists at the Applied Research Center at California State University, Sacramento. Looking forward to 2022, this study identifies growing sectors seeking highly educated workers, analyzes the economic value created by those workers and identifies the top six industries with the most at stake in our state’s highly educated high demand future.
Executive Summary [pdf] Fast facts, Full report [pdf]
There’s a webcast today @ 1:00p.m. CST where you can listen to a variety of perspectives from education and business leaders on the report. A number of my classmates immediately left Madison after graduating from the UW for a warmer climate and far better tech career opportunities in California. They’ve not returned.
Lisa Krieger has more.
WTDY is running a poll on whether new board member Lucy Mathiak should knit during meetings. Watch Monday’s meeting, where the Board discussed the just released 2006/2007 budget. Monday’s agenda can be found here. I’m glad WTDY is having a look at the school board. Perhaps they might include some additional topics. The meeting included the award (8C) of a 856K electrical upgrade for Sennett Middle School (referendum – estimated at 459,300).
The community CAN HELP elementary strings and fine arts education in MMSD. Please write the School Board – firstname.lastname@example.org – ask them a) to establish a community fine arts education advisory committee beginning with a small community working group to put together a plan for this, b) develop a multi-year strategic and education plan for fine arts education, c) work with the music professionals and community to address short-term issues facing elementary music education (other fine arts areas – dance, drama) that supports children’s learning and academic achievement. Until this is done, please write the School Board asking them not to accept (to reject) the Superintendent’s current K-5 music education proposal to eliminate elementary strings.
At this late date in the year, I feel a small community working group needs to be established that will develop a plan for moving forward with the community on fine arts education issues. I would be more than happy to volunteer my time to help coordinate this effort, which I see as a first step toward the establishment of a community fine arts education task force/advisory committee. However, what is key is the School Board’s support and the Superintendent’s leadership, and I would be honored to work with all members of the school board and with the Superintendent. I’m sure other people would be happy to help as well.
The issues with MMSD’s fine arts elementary music education is not solely a budget issue, but the administration’s lack of imagination and longer-term education planning in fine arts makes courses such as strings become budget issues because nothing is done from year to year to make it anything other than a budget issue.
Elementary strings is a high-demand course – this isn’t 50 kids across the district, it was 1,745 in September 2005. From 1969 to 2005, enrollment has tripled, increasing by 1,000 students from 1992 until 2002, at the same time that the number of low income and minority children increased in the elementary student population. Demand for the course is annually 50% of the total enrollment in 4th and 5th grade. Plus, minority and low income enrollment has increased over the years. This year there are about 550 low income children enrolled in the elementary class. More low income children enrolled to take the course, but did not because of the pull out nature, I’m assuming. There is nowhere else in the City that so many low-income children have the opportunity to study an instrument at a higher level and continuously as part of their daily education.
The use and effectiveness of Reading Recovery is in the news elsewhere. More links. Joanne Jacobs has more.
From the latest Teacher’s College Record.
It looks like a solid study, but I have one caveat. One of the findings is that successful schools are aligned with the State Standards and success is then measured by these standards. This does raise questions about the content of these standards. The creation of these standards has been highly political and in some cases the resulting standards leave much to be desired. For an earlier California story, see Gary Nash, Charlotte Crabtree and Ross Dunn’s History on Trial.
Similar Students, Different Results
by Trish Williams & Michael W. Kirst — January 25, 2006
Why do some California elementary schools serving largely low-income students score as much as 250 points higher on the state’s academic performance index (API) than other schools with very similar students?
That’s the research question asked by a new, large-scale EdSource-led study that surveyed principals and teachers in 257 such schools across the state. What we learned is that the higher performing schools tend to have four interrelated practices at the core of their operation—prioritizing student achievement; implementing a coherent, standards-based curriculum and instructional program; analyzing student-assessment data from multiple sources; and ensuring availability of instructional resources.
Many studies have examined successful schools as a group, in an effort to understand their methods or best practices. This study—conducted by EdSource and researchers from Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the American Institutes for Research—took a different tack. Rather than looking at a specific performance zone, we examined elementary schools within a specific, fairly narrow socioeconomic and demographic band but across the full range of school performance.
Madison Metropolitan School District:
Nine Madison School District students named All-State Scholars
Nine students from the Madison School District have earned the All-State Scholars honor out of 120 so named in Wisconsin. In addition, the nine Madison students comprise 60% of the 15 students chosen from the six-county Second Congressional District.
The All-State Scholars from Madison are:
- Lauren Brown, La Follette HS
- Brian Lee, Memorial HS
- Adeyinka Lesi, West HS
- Neil Liu, Memorial HS
- Edson Makuluni, Memorial HS
- Alexander Pinigis, East HS
- Yaoli Pu, West HS
- Mitchell Shanklin, La Follette HS
- Mary Thurber, West HS
Selection as an All-State Scholar is based primarily on a student’s
overall high school grade-point average and ACT or SAT scores. In the
event of a tie, judges consider student statements, extracurricular
activities, and leadership.
All-State Scholars receive a $1,500 one-year scholarship which can be renewed for an additional three years.
Superintendent Art Rainwater presented the proposed 2006 / 2007 budget Monday night (Barb earlier pointed out that 06/07 allocations were sent to the schools on 4/3/2006). Board questions followed. Video and audio [22MB mp3]:
36 minute video
1 hour Board Q & A/Discussion video
In light of the planning grant application approval for the proposed Studio School Charter yesterday, I’m curious about how others view public charters and what their roles should be.
Here are some different conceptions that I’ve heard or read (I’m sure there are many more and I’d be glad to hear about those):
- Charters as laboratories for innovations that can be replicated in other district schools.
- Charters as a means of of addressing the needs or desires of self-defined populations.
- Charters as a first step toward replacing the current system with a system of semi-autonomous schools.
Related questions include: How should charters and charter proposals be evaluated?
Expressions of parent concern over the quality of third-quarter report cards for students in Madison’s elementary schools continue. Parents at Thoreau School joined parents from other schools who have wondered why their children make so little progress in the third quarter of the year in many subject areas that no information on progress can be provided to their families. Another Parent Concerned About Third-Quarter Report Cards and Can We Talk 3: 3rd Quarter Report Cards
Here is a letter from Thoreau parents to the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools.
Once again the strange MMSD budget process presents uncountable mysteries for our intrepid investigators.
Somehow the administration puts this year’s budget and staff into a black box somewhere in the Doyle Building and miraculously out comes a prediction of the FTEs needed to continue the current level of services, as well as proposed FTEs for a balanced budget.
A look at this year’s FTEs compared to the balanced budget FTEs produces a much different picture for investigation, as you can see from the attached Excel file.
Train your spy glasses on the puzzling FTEs in a couple of job classifications.
In 2005-2006 the district employed 34.70 supervisors. However, the administration said only 11 are need under the cost to coninue budget (page 41) and 12 under the balanced budget. Page 41 then shows an increase of one position, when the comparison between current FTEs and the balanced budget shows a reduction of 22.7. (As an aside, does the cost to continue with 11 supervisors mean that last year the district employed 23.70 supervisors who really weren’t needed?) Very strange.
In another inexplicable change, the district employed 94.57 food service workers in 2004-2005. This year’s balanced budget proposes 105.89 FTEs for Food Service Workers. Why? Why does the district need 11.32 more FTEs to serve about 300 fewer students? Maybe we’re getting bigger eaters in the MMSD. Who knows?
Check this writer’s facts, the district’s facts, and come up with soluitons to the Mysteries of the Black Box Budget!
Madison School Board OK’s charter school of arts applying for DPI planning grant. See The Studio School Website
Converting to Healthy Living Charter School
Governor Proclaims May 1 – 6, 2006 as Charter Schools Week in Wisconsin
Charter Schools about Social Justice, says Fuller
What is Chartering and Where Did It Come From?
DPI’s NEW 2005-06 Charter Schools Directory (Under “Charter School Information” on right side of page, click “2005–06 Directory” (pdf)
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation:
The Foundation awards two prizes annually:
- The Thomas B. Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship is awarded to a scholar who has made major contributions to education reform via research, analysis, and successful engagement in the war of ideas.
- The Thomas B. Fordham Prize for Valor is awarded to a leader who has made major contributions to education reform via noteworthy accomplishments at the national, state, local, and/or school levels.
Anyone can be nominated whose work has had a profound impact on education in the United States. Candidates may be nominated either for cumulative lifetime achievement or for extraordinary one-time accomplishments. Employees and trustees of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation are not eligible, nor are members of the prize committee.
I recently posted a comparative list of the English courses offered to 9th and 10th graders at Madison’s four high schools. The list showed clearly that West High School does not offer its high achieving and highly motivated 9th and 10th grade students the same appropriately challenging English classes that are offered at East, LaFollette and Memorial.
Here is the yield from a similar comparison for 9th and 10th grade Social Studies and Science.
Other districts facing fiscal and academic achievement challenges have had successes maintaining and growing their fine arts education – through strategic planning, active engagement and real partnerships with their communities. In Tuscon, AZ, with a large low income and hispanic population, test scores of this population have climbed measurably (independent evaluations confirmed this). This state has received more than $1 million in federal funding for their fine arts education work. School districts in Chicago, New York, Texas and Minneapolis have also done some remarkable work in this area.
In my opinion, the administration’s music education work products and planning efforts this year are unsatisfactory, unimaginative and incomplete. In spite of research that continues to demonstrate the positive effects on student achievement (especially for low income students) and the high value the Madison community places on fine arts, the administration continues to put forth incomplete proposals that will short change all students, especially our low-income students, and the administration does its work “behind closed doors.”
Three or four weeks ago, I spoke at a board meeting and said I thought we needed to do things differently this year – Shwaw Vang and other board members supported my idea of working together to solve issues surrounding elementary strings. Apparently, the administration saw things differently. Since my public appearance the Superintendent has issued two reports – one eliminating elementary strings replacing K-5 music with a “new, improved” idea for K-5 music and a second report with enrollment data presented incompletely with an anti-elementary strings bias. Teachers had no idea this proposal or data were forthcoming, saw no drafts, and they did not receive copies of statistics relevant to their field that was sent last week to the School Board. Neither did the public or the entire School Board know these reports were planned and underway. During the past 12 months, there were no lists of fine arts education priorities developed and shared, no plans to address priorities, processes, timelines, staff/community involvement, etc. String teachers received no curriculum support to adjust to teaching a two-year curriculum in 1/2 the instructional time even though they asked for this help from the Doyle building, and they never received information about the plans for recreating elementary strings in the future. None.
I don’t feel the Superintendent proceeded in the manner expressed to me by Mr. Vang nor as demonstrated by the School Board’s establishment of community task forces over this past year on a number of important issues to the community. Madison’s love of fine arts lends itself well to a community advisory committee. I hope other Board members support Mr. Vang’s community team approach, rejecting the Superintendent’s recent music proposal as incomplete and unacceptable.
In his fifth year of proposals to eliminate elementary strings, the Superintendent is proposing a “new and improved” K-5 music that is not planned for another year, but requires elimination of Grade 4 strings next year. The recent proposal, once again, was developed by administrators without any meaningful involvement of teachers and no involvement of the community. Elementary strings and fine arts education are important to the community. The Superintendent did not use a process that was transparent, well planned with a timeline, open and involved the community.
Music education, including elementary string instruction, is beneficial to a child’s developing, learning and engagement in school. However, music education, also directly supports and reinforces learning in math and reading. Instrument instruction does this at a higher level and that’s one of the reasons why MMSD’s music education curriculum introduces strings in Grade 4, following a sequence of increasing challenges in music education. In fact, all the points made in the Superintendent’s “new” K-5 music program, including multicultural experiences, exist in MMSD’s current music curriculum. The only thing “new” in the Superintendent’s proposal is the elimination of elementary strings.
It is not acceptable to say that we have to do something, because we have to cut money. Also, this is not about some folks being able to “yell” louder than others. To me, this is about five years that have been wasted – no planning, no community involvement, no shared visions. Our kids deserve better. Let’s get started on a new path working together now.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial:
t is simply nothing short of catastrophic that so many Milwaukee youngsters are being left behind in a world in which a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. It’s a trend that bodes ill for the region’s capacity to grow and compete.
Yes, Milwaukee again makes a list it should wish it weren’t on with a ranking that should properly make every Milwaukee Public Schools official, School Board member, teacher, parent and taxpayer intensely introspective, not to mention angry.
That’s because, whether the graduation rate is 45% – ranking it 94th among the 100 largest school districts in the country, according to the generally conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute – or 61% or 67%, what, respectively, the state and district say it is, that’s too few high schoolers graduating.
And the gap between African-American and white achievement in Wisconsin (and between boys and girls) should be topics getting more focus than they have to date. The Manhattan Institute study, released Tuesday, says Wisconsin overall enjoys an 85% graduation rate, but for African-Americans statewide, it’s 55%, the second lowest in the country.
Yes, we know all the societal factors involved in low graduation rates, mostly revolving around poverty. However, these graduation figures also point to a degree of failure in the district in dealing with these realities
“I just really hated school, and Roosevelt brought that out of me,” the 19-year-old said one spring afternoon next to an iron handrail that doubled as a launching slope. “Being told what to do and what to learn. Having to do homework. Grades. Grade levels. Everything that this school stands against.”
Justin will graduate in June from the highly unconventional Fairhaven School with a diploma that may require explanation to a college or future boss. He took no tests in his three years at the private school, received no grades and had no course requirements. But he played electric guitar, read and wrote poetry, made friends and got the last laugh on lunch. “No more tater tots!” he said.
Cory Doctorow discusses his own experiences with a “free school” and points to a trailer for a documentary called “Voices from the New American Schoolhouse“.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:
Madison’s attempt to reach a growing number of low-income, minority and immigrant students requires a return effort: The target families need to take responsibility for their own success.
That means the low-income, minority and immigrant communities should build more organizations to promote their own causes. The Madison School Board needs to hear from them when decisions are made about what programs to keep or cut. The Madison Area Family Advisory Advocacy Coalition, which speaks up for black students, is an example.
I thought some of the readers might be interested in a Blog dedicated by and for those working in the Foundations of Education field. Full disclosure, my academic work as a historian is on the margins of Foundations of Education and one of the contributers, Sherman Dorn, is a friend.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:
If Madison is to maintain the high quality of its public schools, the community must solve a growing problem. But first, Madison must distinguish what the problem is from what it is not.
It is not a dramatic increase in the number of minority, immigrant and low-income students requiring extra services. That is not a problem. That is a fact.
The problem is the community’s response to the stunning change in the student population. We must find ways to cost-effectively educate the new and vastly more diverse generation of Madisonians.
Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago:
Following CPS (Chicago Public Schools) graduates from 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003, this report uses records from Chicago high schools and data from the National Student Clearinghouse to examine the college experiences of all CPS alumni who entered college in the year after they graduated high school.
The study paints a discouraging picture of college success for CPS graduates. Despite the fact that nearly 80 percent of seniors state that they expect to graduate from a four-year college, only about 30 percent enroll in a four-year college within a year of graduating high school, and only 35 percent of those who enroll received a bachelor’s degree within six years. According to this report, CPS students’ low grades and test scores are keeping them from entering four-year colleges and more selective four-year colleges.
Complete study [14.9MB PDF]
The Madison Metropolitan School District Administration published it’s proposed $332.9M+ balanced budget for 2006/2007 in 3 parts:
- Executive Summary [pdf]
- Financial Summaries [pdf]
- Department and Division Reports [pdf]
“Total spending under the proposed budget is $332,947,870, which is an increase of $11,012,181 or 3.42% over 2005-06. The increase of 2.6% under the revenue limit plus other fund increases or expenditures makes up the whole proposed budget. The property tax levy would increase $11,626,677 or 5.8% to $211,989,932.”
“The property tax levy has to increase more than spending because state and federal aids and grants are decreasing. The district is being conservative in its early estimates of these aids and grants in order to avoid overspending.”
4/5 strings is once again on the chopping block. Page 6 of the executive summary. The document refers to the “current strings program”.
Links & Notes:
Several of us received the following email today from Ted Widerski, MMSD TAG (“Talented and Gifted”) Resource Teacher for Middle and High Schools. Ted has been working with other District and West HS staff to find a way to allow West 9th and 10th graders who are advanced in English to grade accelerate in English, whether through the INSTEP process or some other method.
Here is what he wrote:
On Wednesday, April 12th, Welda Simousek and I met with Pamela Nash, Mary Ramberg, Mary Watson-Peterson, Ed Holmes, and Keesia Hyzer to discuss In-STEP procedures for students in English 9 and/or 10. Through this discussion, it became clear that there was no reasonable method available at this time to assess which students might not need to take English 9 or 10 because part of what is learned in English classes comes through the processes of analysis, discussion, and critical critiquing that are shared by the entire class. An alternative assessment approach was discussed: having students present a portfolio to be juried. This approach would require a great deal of groundwork, however, and would not be available yet this spring. It will be looked at as a possibility for the future.
Please keep in mind that it is the intention of West High School to offer meaningful and challenging English courses for all levels of students. It is also the usual TAG Classroom Action Summary and In-STEP approach to have students be present in a classroom for a period of time before it is possible to assess whether they are extremely beyond their classroom peers and need a different option. Welda will follow up with teachers and students in the fall to ascertain progress for students during the first semester. The use of the Classroom Action Summary and In-STEP approach (with a brainstorming of possible options) will be reviewed again at the end of semester one.
Please feel free to contact me with further questions.
Talented and Gifted Resource Teacher
Madison Metropolitan School District
I replied to Ted (copying many others, including parents, Teaching and Learning staff, Art Rainwater, Pam Nash, the BOE, and West HS staff), saying that this is a case of unequal access to appropriate educational opportunities because of how poorly West HS provides for its 9th and 10th graders who are academically advanced in English, as compared to the other three high schools.
Here is my reply:
US Dept of Education Presidential Scholars:
WI—Madison—Brian Lee, James Madison Memorial High School
WI—Madison—Adeyinka A. Lesi, West High School
WI—Madison—Melanie R. Rawlings, James Madison Memorial High School
WI—Madison—Ilari A. Shafer, James Madison Memorial High School
Eligibility information can be found here.
The Superintendent, along with the President and Vice President of the School Board, is holding a press conference to announce the 2006-2007 school budget. They’re performing as if this is the start of the public discussion of the budget for next year, which it is. While late April may be the first time the School Board and the community have seen next year’s school budget, this budget has already been implemented, beginning in early April and possibly earlier –
Was the School Board involved with any aspect of the implementation of next year’s budget? NO. On April 3rd, under the Superintendent’s direction, all schools received their staffing allocations for the next year – 85% of the district’s budget is staffing. The administration says deadlines for layoff notices and surplus notices to teachers per the union contract drive this timeline, because it takes the district two months to figure out who will need to be laid off – last year it was about 10 people who received layoff notices.
What does this reason have to do with School Board’s responsibility to see that proposed resources are being allocated according the the School Board’s goals and objectives for next year? Nothing. If the Superintendent feels he needs to give allocations to schools in early April, he then needs to present the budget earlier if he is implementing allocations with budget cuts. (I do not feel the School Board understood that the budget is implemented when allocations are given when they set the budget timeline.)
Prior to the implementation of next year’s school budget, I believe the School Board needs to know what is in the budget, what cuts (if any) are being proposed, what curriculum changes are being implemented. Also, they need to know what planning is underway in other areas of the budget for next year that is using current staff time and dollars. In order to perform their responsibilities, the School Board needs some form of an Executive Budget that lays out the framework and gives the School Board the opportunity to publicly discuss the Superintendent’s proposed changes. I would recommend strongly that the School Board consider this for next year.
When could the School Board do this? I would suggest the School Board consider doing this during the month of March prior to April 3rd if that deadline is firm. Did any budget discussions take place this year, prior to April 3rd and the April 4th school board elections. NO. Johnny Winston, Jr., who chairs the Finance and Operations Committee, held no meetings in March to discuss next year’s school budget, so this might be the time to hold those meetings, asking for the presentation of an Executive level budget with proposed changes.
There is another reason to do this – staffing confusion and uncertainty. Building principals give surplus notices, but staff has no idea what the budget is, if the School Board approved these decisions (School Board has not approved the staffing allocations).
I believe budget objectives, an executive budget (by department) and any cuts to the budget need to be packaged together and the School Board needs to publicly discuss this prior to implementation. As one principal said to me years ago, “Once the Superintendent gives us our allocations, there won’t be any changes.” That’s what I have observed over the past five years. By the time the School Board receives the budget document, next year’s budget is already in place and being implemented, and the School Board ends up talking in great detail about less than $1 million of the budget, is unable to make/direct changes.
Sure, the School Board has the authority and can make any changes the majority approves, but a) why isn’t the School Board “approving” the budget vs. the Superintendent and b) why would a School Board want to waste precious resources implementing and then reimplementing the budget?
The Madison Board of Education is scheduled to act on Monday evening (4/24) on a request relating to a proposed charter elementary school of arts and technology.
The Board will vote on whether or not to support a grant application to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for funds to support planning of The Studio School by a group of educators, parents and others. See info about The Studio School, including the proposed planning grant application at: http://www.madisonstudioschool.org .
The Board’s meeting, which begins at 5:00 pm, will be held in the McDaniel’s Auditorium at the district offices at 545 West Dayton Street. [map]
As we know, curriculae like Everyday Math, Core Math, Reading Recovery, Balanced Literacy and the Literacy Collaborative are based on the constructivist theory of education. Indeed, the Literacy Collaborative (a trademarked name for Balanced Literacy) states that its framework is based on the theories of Vygotsky, Bruner and Clay.
For an interesting exercise, do a google search with all three of these keywords “constructivist marxism vygotsky” [ask | clusty | google | msn | yahoo]
Now before the constructivists out there accuse me of labelling them as marxists, let me say I am not. I am, however, making the point that the curriculae you advocate has deep roots in marxist egalitarian theory.
I was looking for more information about the combined grades at Elvejhem (my grade school was all combined grades with team teaching and it worked very well) and I found an interesting study that I don’t think has been previously noted on SIS. It is by noted Urbanist David Rusk and looks at the effects of economic segregation and integration on academic performance in Madison schools. I hope the East and West task forces were aware of this study.
The conclusion states:
“Summing Up Part V: A school’s socioeconomic context does matter far more for low-income pupils than for their middle class counterparts. The statistical analysis did show a slight decline of middle class pupils’ test scores as the percentage of low income classmates increased. The rate of decline for middle class pupils was less than half the rate of improvement for low income pupils.
However, that apparent decline in middle class pupils’ performance most probably reflected the changing composition of the “middle class” in schools with increasingly higher percentages of low income classmates. “Middle class” schools with very few low income pupils had higher percentages of children from the highest income, largely professional households. In “middle class” schools with much larger numbers of lowincome pupils, children from more modest “blue collar” households predominated.
That was most likely the primary contributing factor to the apparent slow decline in middle class test scores and not any directly adverse effect of having more low income classmates. From a larger perspective, middle class pupils’ performance levels never dropped below 70-75% achieving advanced and proficient levels under any socioeconomic circumstances in Madison-Dane County (which had no very high-poverty schools).”
Here is a link to the pdf file: Final Report
Recently, a parent expressed concern about the quality of third-quarter report cards at Crestwood Elementary School.
Can We Talk 3: Third-Quarter Report Cards
Today a parent of students at Elvejhem Elementary asked Madison School Board members why the teachers only reported on 10% of content areas. I have asked Superintendent Art Rainwater for a response to the parent’s concerns.
Wisconsin Academic Decathlon:
Last month, members of the non-profit Wisconsin Academic Decathlon announced that “donor fatigue” had severely weakened program donations and that the organization would deplete its reserves to make it through this year’s State Finals. Program Director Molly Ritchie revealed that the 23-year-old extra curricular scholastic program for Wisconsin high school students might very well have to shut down. Ritchie invited a major corporate sponsor, or sponsors, to come to the rescue with a $150,000 donation.
Dependent on private funding for the last eleven years-since the elimination of their Department of Public Instruction state grant in 1995, Wisconsin has maintained a solid and competitive statewide program, third largest among 40 in the nation, faring well in national competition. For the past two decades, the state champions have placed in the top 10 nationwide, in all but two appearances, and landed the national overall title with Waukesha West’s big win in 2002. However, the program’s success alone no longer generates enough donations to cover the $220,000+ annual budget (67% of funds are secured through donations, team entrance fees bring in the rest).
Peter Gascoyne kindly covered this years event, held a few weeks ago.
The Economist covers a fascinating subject:
For its exponents, this is a paternalism for the times. People are jealous of their freedoms; yet they squander them. They resent outside authorities telling them how to live their lives, but they lack self-command. They have legions of entrepreneurs dedicated to serving them better, but often they fail even to understand the embarrassment of offerings that is spread before them. Some gentle guidance would not go amiss.
But if such manipulation is sometimes a necessity, should it be made a virtue? (John Stuart) Mill, for one, would have disapproved.
He who lets the world choose…his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan for himself must…use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision.
Reasoning, judgment, discrimination and self-control—all of these the soft paternalists see as burdens the state can and should lighten. Mill, by contrast, saw them as opportunities for citizens to exercise their humanity. Soft paternalism may improve people’s choices, rescuing them from their own worst tendencies, but it does nothing to improve those tendencies. The nephews of the avuncular state have no reason to grow up.
Governor Doyle vetoed several school related bills, including those related to SAGE changes and virtual schools. Details here and here.
A letter to the editor
Dear Editor: I want to thank my supporters and many volunteers during the spirited run for Seat 1 of the Madison School Board. I appreciate the challenging forums and discussions with the press and community members, who have shown why Madison is always considered among the top school systems in the United States.
I also thank those who voted for me in this close election a choice that was confirmed with a well-organized and competent recount.
I look forward to being sworn in on April 24 for Seat 1, and from then on, serving every child, school and family in the best way I know how. I will represent all the district and will seek information from all sources, listen carefully and make sound choices when voting on all issues.
I am eagerly anticipating being the School Board member I promised to be during the campaign: ensuring access to all, welcoming all, improving on a strong school system, and respecting taxpayer dollars in school spending.
Madison School Board member-elect
Published: April 18, 2006
The Capital Times
Rick Burke remembers looking at his elementary-school daughter’s math homework and wondering where the math was.
Like many Seattle schools, his daughter’s school was teaching “reform” math, a style that encourages students to discover math principles and derive formulas themselves. Burke, an engineer, worried that his daughter wasn’t learning basic math skills.
“It was a lot of drawing pictures and playing games,” he said. “Her whole first-grade year was pretty much a lateral move.”
So for the past few years, Burke and his wife have been tutoring their three children after school — and this fall, they plan to switch them to North Beach Elementary, which uses a more traditional approach to math.
Sarah Natividad adds:
The biggest problem is that the teachers currently in service never learned enough math to begin with, and so can’t be expected to teach what they don’t already know. We only think our teachers know math because they know just as little math as we do. If you want to know how scarily ignorant of math our teachers are, I suggest reading Liping Ma’s Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics for a start.
I’ve written about this on my own blog, and I’m not just talking out of my butt here. I’ve taught math to these potential teachers. They lack the prerequisite skills to pass a college algebra class. You can tell who in the class is in the Elementary Education program; they’re the ones sitting in the back row, getting a D on every exam because they have to use a calculator to do three times two (and they think this is normal). So when Bob Brandt of Bellevue says “How do you know three times two equals six? Any idiot knows that,” I would counter that an exceptional idiot must be teaching his kids math. We’ve raised an entire generation of teachers who don’t even know enough about math to know that they are ignorant of it.
D-Ed Reckoning touches on math as well.
Jay Greene and Marcus Winters:
This study uses a widely respected method to calculate public high school graduation rates for the nation, for each state, and for the 100 largest school districts in the United States. We calculate graduation rates overall, by race, and by gender, using the most recent available data (the class of 2003).
Among our key findings:
- The overall national public high school graduation rate for the class of 2003 was 70 percent.
- There is a wide disparity in the public high school graduation rates of white and minority students.
- Nationally, the graduation rate for white students was 78 percent, compared with 72 percent for Asian students, 55 percent for African-American students, and 53 percent for Hispanic students.
- Female students graduate high school at a higher rate than male students. Nationally, 72 percent of female students graduated, compared with 65 percent of male students.
- The gender gap in graduation rates is particularly large for minority students. Nationally, about 5 percentage points fewer white male students and 3 percentage points fewer Asian male students graduate than their respective female students. While 59 percent of African-American females graduated, only 48 percent of African-American males earned a diploma (a difference of 11 percentage points). Further, the graduation rate was 58 percent for Hispanic females, compared with 49 percent for Hispanic males (a difference of 9 percentage points).
- The state with the highest overall graduation rate was New Jersey (88 percent), followed by Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, each with 85 percent. The state with the lowest overall graduation rate was
South Carolina (54 percent), followed by Georgia (56 percent) and New York (58 percent).
Sarah Carr notes that some question the methods used in this analysis:
Milwaukee public high schools have one of the worst graduation rates [chart] in the country among large school districts, according to a new report that takes the unusual step of trying to make comparisons across large school districts as well as states.
Tamar Lewin also takes a look at this report:
The report, “Leaving Boys Behind: Public High School Graduation Rates,” found that 59 percent of African-American girls, but only 48 percent of African-American boys, earned their diplomas that year. Among Hispanics, the graduation rate was 58 percent for girls, but only 49 percent for boys.
“It’s a fairly large difference, particularly when you consider that unlike differences across racial and ethnic groups, boys and girls are raised in the same households, so it’s not so easy to explain the differences by their community, or their income level,” said Jay P. Greene, an author of the report.
Mr. Greene helped set off widespread national alarm with findings several years ago that almost one in three high school students, and almost half the African-American and Hispanic students, did not complete high school. His research has been widely embraced by policy makers, though some researchers argue that his method overstates the dropout problem over all and among minorities in particular.
Kristian Knutsen covers last night’s Madison City Council meeting where they approved the purchase of several allied drive properties. The City’s goal is to redevelop the purchased lots.
Ms. Abplanalp and MMSD District Staff (cc’d to the Board of Education),
I read with some confusion your letter [350K PDF] sent to all elementary school parents about the lack of measurable change in students marking period as too small to report to parents on their third quarter report cards.
Here’s my confusion. I have complained many times about the lack of communication from MMSD to parents concerning students grades or progress. At the elementary level the “grade issue” seems to do with the lack of any measurable assessments. While I know testing is a bad word in the education world I find it amusing that between the end of Jan. and beginning of April, my two elementary students failed to have any measurable change in their grades. My 7th grader had a full report card…..with grades and everything. I’m old at 42, but we used to have report cards come home every 6 weeks. My parents could assess my progress rather well that way, and I got lots of candy from Grandma. I accept the quarter system as being more practical but seriously…you can’t even accomplish quarterly reports.
I am wondering why my two elementary students were sent home early on April 4th. My tax dollars went to pay for what?…..four grades evaluated out of 31 (not including behavior grades). The teachers spent the time to log onto the computers to tell me about one grade in reading and 3 in math. My daughter who is in 5th grade tells me lots of social studies and science occurred from Jan. to April but I guess none was graded. The paper work, the early release, the time spent logging on for four grades has to rank up there with the last day of school with the amount of waste of tax payer money (last day is one and 1/2 hour of school with bus service and all).
A Strategy to Create Small, High-Performing College-Preparatory Schools in Every Neighborhood of Los Angeles
Green Dot Public Schools, Bain & Company [180K PDF]:
Public school reform has become the #1 issue for the City of Los Angeles. While most acknowledge the poor state of the public education system, the discussion to date has largely focused on governance issues, such as mayoral control and district break-up. This whitepaper is intended to refocus the debate on a future vision for public schools in Los Angeles about which all stakeholders will be enthusiastic. Simply put, every child in Los Angeles should have the opportunity to attend a small, safe, college-preparatory public school. This whitepaper also provides a strategy for how the City of Los Angeles can take advantage of its historic opportunity to make this vision a reality. With $19 billion in bond funding, the Los Angeles Unified School District has unparalleled resources to execute a dramatic transformation.
To those concerned about the success of the Madison Schools,
I am writing to express my support for the positive changes proposed by the district with respect to food policy. It is exciting that the district has been proactive in including students, parents, health providers, educators, and policy makers. As a pediatrician working with childhood obesity and childhood diabetes, I believe our schools do- and can have an even more positive influence- on the health of our children.
We are all struggling with the epidemic of childhood obesity, its costs, ramifications, and its effect on children and their families. We need to address this problem though our families, through our communities, and definitely through our schools. We continue to “leave many children behind” when it comes to healthy nutrition and physical activity. The State of California has shown that children with greater fitness levels, also have greater academic levels. Supporting an environment for achieving this is imperative for our children.
Healthy food choices should always be offered even if it means different fund raising methods in our schools including removing soda, and other unhealthy food practices. It is time for the Board to look carefully at how they can help be part of the solution regarding this problem and the long-term health of our students.
Via a an email from Johnny Winston, Jr.
The Madison Metropolitan School District presents its 2nd Annual Minority Student Achievement Network Conference for students of color on Saturday April 22, 2006 at 8 am to 2 pm at James C. Wright Middle School located at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road. Students and families of middle school children are invited. If you have questions, please contact Diane Crear, Special Assistant to the Superintendent at 204-1692 or Michelle Olson, Minority Services Coordinator at LaFollette High School at 204-3661.
Topic for students and parents include: Achieving in High School, Health Matters, Goal Setting, Careers in Journalism and Science; SPITE programs and Success for your Student. Keynote address by the performance group Elements of Change. Refreshments will be provided during the morning and lunch in the afternoon at no cost to the participants. There will be limited on-site registration.
Hope to see you on Saturday April 22nd at the MMSD’s 2nd Annual Minority Student Achievement Network Conference at 8 am to 2 pm at James C. Wright Middle School.
Please share this information with other interested persons or organizations. Thank you.
Frank Bass, Nicole Ziegler Dizon and Ben Feller:
States are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting the No Child Left Behind law’s requirement that students of all races must show annual academic progress.
With the federal government’s permission, schools aren’t counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report progress by racial groups, an Associated Press computer analysis found.
Minorities – who historically haven’t fared as well as whites in testing – make up the vast majority of students whose scores are being excluded, AP found. And the numbers have been rising.
“I can’t believe that my child is going through testing just like the person sitting next to him or her and she’s not being counted,” said Angela Smith, a single mother. Her daughter, Shunta’ Winston, was among two dozen black students whose test scores weren’t broken out by race at her suburban Kansas City, Mo., high school.
To calculate a nationwide estimate, AP analyzed the 2003-04 enrollment figures the government collected – the latest on record – and applied the current racial category exemptions the states use.
Overall, AP found that about 1.9 million students – or about 1 in every 14 test scores – aren’t being counted under the law’s racial categories. Minorities are seven times as likely to have their scores excluded as whites, the analysis showed.
Less than 2 percent of white children’s scores aren’t being counted as a separate category. In contrast, Hispanics and blacks have roughly 10 percent of their scores excluded. More than one-third of Asian scores and nearly half of American Indian scores aren’t broken out, AP found.
Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights website.
Carrie Antifinger notes that the loophole snares 33% of Wisconsin minority students.
First, a reader of some of the back and forth might end up thinking that the law requires some minimum subgroup or that the feds set the subgroup size. It doesn’t, they don’t. Here are the exact AYP regulations from the Federal Register (pdf) and here is Ed Trust’s explanatory piece. It’s left up to the states although the feds approve the state plans and consequently have approved the various sizes in effect now. Now they’re trying to figure out how to clean up (pdf) some of the mess they’ve created.
Some parents say the Madison School District’s spending cuts, combined with its attempts to close the achievement gap, have reduced opportunities for higher-achieving students.
Jeff Henriques, a parent of two high-achieving students, said one of the potential consequences he sees is “bright flight” – families pulling students with higher abilities out of the district and going elsewhere because their needs aren’t being met.
One of the larger examples of this conflict is surfacing in the district’s move toward creating “heterogeneous” classes that include students of all achievement levels, eliminating classes that group students of similar achievement levels together.
Advocates of heterogeneous classes say students achieving at lower levels benefit from being in classes with their higher-achieving peers. But some parents of higher-achieving students are concerned their children won’t be fully challenged in such classes – at a time when the amount of resources going to talented and gifted, or TAG, programs is also diminishing.
Check out Part I and Part II of Cullen’s series.
Watch Professor Gamoran’s presentation, along with others related to the homogeneous / heterogeneous grouping debate here. Links and commentary and discussion on West’s English 10. Jason Shepherd took a look at these issues in his “Fate of the Schools” article.
Working in conjunction with the Schools of Hope project led by the United Way of Dane County, the district has made progress in third-grade reading scores at the lowest achievement levels. But racial and income gaps persist among third-graders reading at proficient and advanced levels.
Other initiatives are taking place in the middle and high schools. There, the district has eliminated “dead-end classes” that have less rigorous expectations to eliminate the chance that students will be put on a path of lower achievement because they are perceived as not being able to succeed in higher-level classes.
In the past, high school students were able to take classes such as general or consumer math. Now, all students are required to take algebra and geometry – or two credits of integrated mathematics, combining algebra, statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry – in order to graduate.
One of the district’s more controversial efforts has been a move toward “heterogeneous” classes that include students of all achievement levels, eliminating classes that group students of similar achievement levels together.
Advocates of heterogeneous classes say students who are achieving at lower levels benefit from being in classes with their higher-achieving peers. But others say the needs of higher-achieving students aren’t met in such classes.
And in addition to what schools are already doing, Superintendent Art Rainwater said he would like to put learning coaches for math and reading in each of the district’s elementary schools to improve teachers’ ability to teach all students effectively.
The first part of Cullen’s series is here.
The Web site of the Milwaukee schools includes the documents school use to build their budgets. Unlike the MMSD, which creates a budget in a black box at the top, the Milwaukee district appears to build a budget publicly from the bottom up. I prefer Milwaukee’s approach.
Five years ago we moved to Madison. A big factor in this decision was the expectation that we could rely on Madison public schools to educate our children. Our eldest went through West High School. To our delight the rigorous academic environment at West High transformed him into a better student, and he got accepted at several good public universities.
Now we are finding this promise betrayed for our younger children. Our elementary school appears to be sliding into disarray. Teachers and children are threatened, bullied, assaulted, and cursed at. Curricula are dumbed down to accommodate students who are unprepared for real school work. Cuts in special education are leaving the special needs kids adrift, and adding to the already impossible burdens of classroom teachers. To our disappointment we are forced to pull one child out of public school, simply to ensure her an orderly and safe learning environment.
Unless the School Board addresses these challenges forcefully and without obfuscation, I am afraid a historic mistake will be made. Madison schools will slip into a vicious cycle of middle class flight and steady decline. The very livability of our city might be at stake, not to mention our property values.
To me the necessary step is clear. The bottom five to ten percent of students, and especially all the aggressive kids, must be removed from regular classes. They should be concentrated in separate schools where they can receive the extra attention and intensive instruction they need, with an option to join regular classes if they are ready.
Twenty-five years ago, less than 10 percent of the district’s students were minorities and relatively few lived in poverty. Today, there are almost as many minority students as white, and nearly 40 percent of all students are considered poor – many of them minority students. And the number of students who aren’t native English speakers has more than quadrupled.
“The school district looks a lot different from 1986 when I graduated,” said Madison School Board member Johnny Winston Jr.
The implications of this shift for the district and the city of Madison are huge, city and school officials say. Academic achievement levels of minority and low-income students continue to lag behind those of their peers. Dropout, suspension and expulsion rates also are higher for minority students.
“Generally speaking, children who grow up in poverty do not come to school with the same skills and background” that enable their wealthier peers to be successful, Superintendent Art Rainwater said. “I think there are certainly societal issues that are race-related that also affect the school environment.”
While the demographics of the district’s students have changed dramatically, the makeup of the district as a whole doesn’t match.
The overall population within the school district, which includes most of Madison along with parts of some surrounding municipalities, is predominantly white and far less likely to be poor. And most taxpayers in the district do not have school-age children, statistics show, a factor some suggest makes it harder to pass referendums to increase taxes when schools are seeking more money.
Forty-four percent of Madison public school students are minorities, while more than 80 percent of residents in the city are white, according to U.S. Census figures for 2000, the most recent year available. And since 1991, the percentage of district students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches has nearly doubled to 39 percent; in 2000, only 15 percent of Madison’s residents were below the poverty level.
Although the city’s minority and low-income population has increased since the 2000 census, it’s “nowhere near what it is in the schools,” said Dan Veroff, director of the Applied Population Laboratory in UW- Madison’s department of rural sociology.
Barb Schrank asked “Where have all the Students Gone? in November, 2005:
There’s a lot more at work in the MMSD’s flat or slightly declining enrollment than Cullen’s article discusses. These issues include:
Thoreau’s most recent PTO meeting, which included 50 parent and teacher participants, illustrates a few of the issues that I believe are driving some families to leave: growing math curriculum concerns and the recent imposition of mandatory playground grouping without any prior parent/PTO discussion.
Student losses, or the MMSD’s failure to capture local population growth directly affects the district’s ability to grow revenue (based on per student spending and annual budget increases under the state’s revenue caps).
The MMSD’s failure to address curriculum and govenance concerns will simply increase the brain flight and reduces the number of people supporting the necessary referendums. Jason Shepherd’s recent article is well worth reading for additional background.
Finally, Mary Kay Battaglia put together some of these numbers in December with her “This is not Your Grandchild’s Madison School District“.
Two articles on Proposition 82:
- Dana Hull:
It sounds like a no-brainer for advocates of early childhood education: a state ballot initiative that would offer preschool to every 4-year-old in California, free of charge to parents. What preschool wouldn’t be all for that?
But as the June 6 election approaches, an increasingly vocal number of preschools are lining up against it.
Some Montessori schools fear Proposition 82, dubbed the Preschool for All Act, would lead to state standards that could compromise their teaching methods and mixed-age classrooms. Faith-based preschools say they would be at a competitive disadvantage because the measure wouldn’t fund schools that offer religious instruction. Others worry a requirement that teachers earn a bachelor’s degree would drive them out of business.
“I am going to vote no, and I am very much in favor of universal preschool,” said Bonnie Mathisen, director of Discovery Children’s House, a Montessori school in Palo Alto. “I just feel that Prop. 82 is not the right way to go about it. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, a lot of preschools will be left out.”
- Dana Hull:
The children, ages 3 to 6, are part of a class of 28 at Casa di Mir Montessori School in Campbell. While many schools group children by age, Montessori believes children of different ages teach, help and learn from each other.
Tara started the year as a kindergartner at a local elementary school, where her parents were stunned to learn there was homework. She rebelled against its structure, and her parents struggled with what to do. In January, they enrolled Tara at Casa di Mir.
“Montessori is perfect for her,” says Haleh, Tara’s mom. “They don’t ring a bell to start class; they play a flute. She wrote a four-page journal about cats.”
- Joanne Jacobs has more