Sparks Fly as the Madison Studio Charter School is Voted Down

The Madison School Board voted down the proposed Studio Charter School Monday night in a 4-2 vote (Against: Carstensen, Kobza, Silveira and Winston; For Mathiak and Robarts with Vang away).
Sparks flew when Lucy Mathiak asked Nancy Donahue about their interaction with the attempts to talk with principals and teachers about the proposed charter school [12 minute video.] Watch the complete discussion here.
Susan Troller has more:

There is disagreement among Madison School Board members over what put the nails in the coffin of a proposal to create a new fine arts and technology-focused charter school.
The Studio School suffered from being the wrong proposal at the wrong time, said board President Johnny Winston Jr., who joined board members Carol Carstensen, Arlene Silveira and Lawrie Kobza in voting against the plan at Monday night’s School Board meeting.
But board member Lucy Mathiak says that the vote was wrapped up in School Board and labor politics, and that the Studio School suffered from disapproval from Madison Teachers Inc., the district’s union.
But Mathiak, who along with board member Ruth Robarts voted in favor of what would have been Madison’s third charter school, said she felt the proposal was primarily doomed by disapproval from MTI.
She noted that the MTI’s School Board candidate questionnaire asks whether candidates support charter schools, and added that there was a MTI representative at Monday night’s meeting.
“There is definitely the feeling that the union does not look favorably on charter schools, although they are public schools, staffed by district teachers,” Mathiak said.
“I find it ironic that the same people who voted for a voluntary impasse resolution agreement regarding teachers’ contract negotiations are now saying that developing a charter school is something we can’t afford. We should keep all of our options open in the bargaining process … the potential for cost savings are very significant,” she said.
Mathiak is referring to a vote taken by School Board members in preparation for negotiations with the teachers’ union next month that included concessions from the district on bargaining over health care insurance.

Much more on the Studio School here along with some discussion at The Daily Page.

8 thoughts on “Sparks Fly as the Madison Studio Charter School is Voted Down”

  1. Here’s another great example! Media should present both sides of the story along with facts on the process and how the system works. Instead, we are getting bombarded with opinions and not able to come to conclusion about our own ideals.
    If I wanted to read a guest editorial, then I would expect to find that on the editorial page. I mean no disrespect! Honestly, the article starts out, “There are differences on the MMSD BOE…” then only one board member is quoted throughout. Well…what are the differences?
    Since this entire Charter School issue has been raised I’ve been waiting to understand:
    What’s the difference in the process for adding a Charter school vs those that have to be put forth by referendum?
    What’s the potential for generating revenue? I assume, the new school *might* entice families to stay within MMSD? What’s the potential?
    What impact (good or bad) can be projected for achedemic success in using the new type of learning to which this new charter would focus?
    What *are* the actual costs of additional transportation and what means will be used to ensure neighborhood diversity within the enrollment?
    Has anyone else been begging for these answers?
    Madisonians are bright and intelligent. Why are we allowing our media to bias the information they are writing and stating to us everyday? When do we get to read, to learn and to make up our own minds?

  2. Many of the questions you raise, Mari, were asked by Board members and were answered by the Studio School. Anyone interested in this topic could have gathered quite a bit of information from watching the times this topic was on the board agenda. Since the meetings and agendas are notice, anyone interested in following a topic can either a) attend a meeting or b) watch Channel 10, which I think is a great improvement in communication with the community.
    Prior to their vote on the planning and the vote on entering into a contract with the charter school, the School Board could have taken up the topic of charter schools at a meeting to develop a process, protocol and guidelines for charter school development. Hopefully, this will happen before any other charter schools come forward, so the confusion on the School Board does not carry forward to a future proposal.

  3. I agree with Barb. The information is available if you look for it. I certainly wouldn’t rely on the newspaper accounts to be telling the full story on any particular topic — that’s not really their job…they’re reporting on the stuff they think will make a good headline.
    I also agree with Barb’s observation regarding the process for charter school development….there doesn’t seem to be one. It seems pretty clear that the current administration, and perhaps MTI, isn’t necessarily receptive to charters, but I have no idea why that may be. Has MMSD’s philosophy on charter schools ever even been discussed at a Board meeting? Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember ever hearing much discussion regarding charters from administration or the Board, other than reacting to the occasional proposals that people bring forward.

  4. I think Barb is entirely correct here. This charter school process was haphazard at best, and in the end, it was unfair to both the organizers, the board and the community.

  5. In all fairness to the journalist, I need to point out that the text above represents part – not all – of the story. Those of you who read it know that the full CT story started with a long quote from J Winston Jr. on the benefits and opportunities for charter schools in Madison. The text above represents my differing opinion.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with the comments calling for a better charter school development process. I truly hope that one positive that comes out of the Studio School’s journey is a serious look at how future charter school ideas for MMSD can be handled effectively. There’s so much room for improvement in the process that I can’t even begin to delve into the subject.
    Since it seems that many of you who post comments in this forum have experience working on other school issues, how would you see a better charter school development process becoming a reality?

  7. I couldn’t agree more with all your comments above.
    At the same time, I’d like to see more in depth research on items like this that affect our community. I think that’s one of the reasons a top TV commentator left…to provide the community with more in depth knowledge. More people watch the 5, 6 pm or nightly news and more read the WSJ or TCT than attend a BOE meeting or watch channel 10.
    …fact is, all the responders on this thread know how to get the information but the typical Madison citizen doesn’t. 5-10 people show up on a regular basis to the BOE meetings throughout the school year and it’s the same crew (not so for this topic…but typically…the same crew).
    …when interviewing a BOE member, I would personally like a more in depth interview of ‘why’ they voted the way they did. That is ‘sometimes’ lost. I also want the process covered…inside and out. Is that so hard?
    …fact is the GENERAL public DIDN’T get informed on these questions. Too many have asked for insight that they haven’t received.
    Each of us posting are pretty set in our ways. Including myself. I’m simply asking our media to provide us with the ability to determine our own point of view by doing some leg work rather than building upon the soap opera.

  8. Lucy…thanks for the clarity…but the link to the online Cap. Times article starts the same way as the posted version. The hard copy I do not get at home.
    It’s great that both ‘sides’ were represented. Yet, given that, I would have been interested in hearing a bit of an interview from Lawrie.
    I think media outlets make more of the “sides” and don’t capitalize on the new independent thinkers…and there are several, from the past and present who have sometimes been pigeon-holed.

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