: Edline — and other programs like it, such as SchoolFusion and School Center — provide students, teachers and parents with an online meeting place to discuss day-to-day assignments, tests and grades. But it also enables parents to keep track of a kid’s academic progress — or lack of progress — in a heretofore unthinkably micromanagerial way. Parents can know everything; children have no wiggle room. Gone is the fudge factor, the white lie. A student makes a D on a quiz, a D shows up on Edline. No matter that a student leads a discussion in class or puts forth a cogent point. Or has the possibility to retake the quiz, make up the poor grade or do extra credit work over the weekend.
This swift knowledge of success or failure can drive a wedge into families.
The Madison School District has invested in a new student information system. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, given the recent report card reductions in some schools. More here.
Henry Cordes & Michaela Saunders:
Sustaining funding for such a major push will be difficult, he said. And no outside group can control the biggest void behind youths who fail: their home life.
“What do you do when the parents aren’t there?” he said. “You can’t regulate that stuff.”
Fred Schott, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Omaha, said the initiative is focusing on “the right six things to make a long-term impact.”
He said, however, that the organizers should be prepared for some suspicion in the community. There’s understandable anger, he said, that it’s taken so long to recognize the area’s poverty.
“Our north Omaha community has seen many task forces,” he said.
Schools in metro Milwaukee must adapt to a knowledge-based economy, which is demanding that they perform better than they ever have. Their mission requires hard work, creativity and fiscal reforms.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
At one time, men and women could get ahead in life without much by way of a formal education. Now, a high school diploma, and the learning it implies, is a prerequisite for success.
Schools must better adapt to their more demanding mission. They must continue to change their orientation from adults to children and to search for new ways to reach the kids they are not now reaching. They must also engage the community.
The state must help solve the fiscal crisis that grips many school districts. The community must recognize that all schools – public and private, secular and religious – serve an important public purpose. And other institutions must do their duty with respect to children; for instance, families must raise children right, and businesses must give them hope by spreading around jobs.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Roundtable:
We view education as key to virtually every other effort to revitalize the metro area economically and socially.
Here are excerpts from the rich discussion. You can also watch it here
Madison Country Day School Letter to local parents: [550K PDF]. MCDS web site, more on their IB program. Their letter to parents begins:
Open up the newspaper and it’s hard to miss what is happening in our local schools. In the effort to leave no one behind, many of our most talented students are finding themselves ignored. It used to be a simple decision where to send your talented son or daughter to school. Not any more .
Madison County Day School proposes a unique alternative for the greater Dane County community. Upon our accreditation to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, we will offer in the fall of 2008 the IB Diploma Programme to our Upper School junior and senior classes.
Lakota is about the same size, but spends $23.5 million less on special ed than Dayton, where 1 in 5 receive aid.
For one private duty nurse at Gorman Elementary School, the school day begins not at the schoolhouse door but at her student’s home, where she dresses and feeds a severely handicapped child. Then she rides the bus with him to school.
The student’s class has a teacher and two teaching aides for six students, in addition to the private nurse and two school nurses on duty. All of this, by law, is paid by Dayton Public Schools. For more several severely handicapped students, Dayton spends more than $50,000 a year.
Half an hour down the Interstate 75 toward Cincinnati, Lakota is a sprawling school district in a fast-growing suburb that last year passed Dayton to become the seventh-largest school district in Ohio. But although Lakota is similar in size to Dayton, its students — and the district’s responsibilities because of them — are completely different.
Where Dayton has 20 percent of kids in special education, Lakota has 9 percent. And by one Ohio Department of Education poverty measure, 65 percent of Dayton’s students qualify as poor, while just 8 percent do in Lakota.
Elliott also compared administrative spending.
Here are 10 good reasons to put the paired elementary schools, Lapham and Marquette, into one building.
- The school would be a K-5 school, like most elementary schools in the District.
- Siblings in elementary school would go to school in the same building. They would not be split after 2nd grade.
- Students would have the benefit of having teachers from kindergarten through 5th grade in the same building, which should strengthen relationships between students and teachers.
- The teaching teams at Lapham and Marquette would be combined for the K-5 school, so strong teaching teams would not be split up.
- The combined K-5 school would have approximately 450 students, which is the size of six other MMSD elementary schools, and significantly smaller than two other MMSD elementary schools.
- The K-5 school would have full-time, or close to full-time, art, music and physical education teachers.
- All students would attend school close to their homes. Lapham and Marquette are only 1.06 miles away from each other.
- District schools would continue to exist and be operated in both the Lapham and Marquette neighborhoods.
- If the District’s growth projections for the area are too low, there is still plenty of space at neighboring Lowell and Emerson schools for students.
- Last but not least, combining the paired schools would save money, and would free up space to house programs currently located in rented space.
In my view, of almost all the budget items the School Board is looking at, this item has the fewest negative impacts on students. It will be a shame if the Board’s concerns about political pressure trump its concerns about what is best for students.
The district and Madison Teachers Inc. exchanged initial proposals Wednesday to begin negotiations on a new two-year contract that will run through June 30, 2009. The current one expires June 30.
“Frankly, I was shocked and appalled by the school district’s initial proposal because it was replete with take-backs in teachers’ rights as well as the economic offer,” John Matthews, executive director of MTI, said in an interview Thursday.
But Bob Butler, a staff attorney with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards who is part of the district’s bargaining team, said he believed the district’s proposal was fair and flexible.
He said the administration’s proposal on health care provides two new HMO plans that could bring savings to the district and new options to employees, while still providing an option for the more expensive Wisconsin Physicians Service plan for employees who want it.
The district is proposing that teachers accept language that would allow two new HMO insurance plans, provided by Dean Care and Physicians Plus, to be added to the two plans currently offered.
Slightly more than 53 percent of the employees represented by the teachers’ bargaining unit use the less expensive Group Health Cooperative plan, which is a health maintenance organization, or HMO. The district’s costs for the GHC plan for next year are $364.82 per month for singles and $974.08 for families. Employees who opt for the GHC do not pay a percentage of the premium themselves but are responsible for co-pays for drugs that range from $6 to $30.
If about the same number of district employees — 1,224 — use the GHC plan next year, it would cost the district about $11.6 million.
The other option currently available to teachers is provided by Wisconsin Physicians Service. A preferred provider organization plan, it provides health insurance to just under 47 percent of the district’s teacher unit.
A more flexible plan that allows participants to go to different doctors for different medical specialties, the WPS plan next year will cost the district $747.78 per month for singles and $1,961.13 for families. Under the current contract, employees pay 10 percent of the cost of the WPS plan, which this year is $65.65 per month for singles, and $172.18 per month for families.
The cost estimate for the school district’s share of the WPS plan under the current contract would be about $19 million. Employees, who pick up 10 percent of the cost as their share of the premium, would pay another $2 million under the current structure.
It’s important to remember that a majority of the Madison School Board voted several months ago to not arbitrate with MTI over health care costs. Andy Hall has more:
But with the Madison School Board facing a $10.5 million budget shortfall, is the board giving away too much with its promises to retain teachers’ increasingly pricey health insurance and to discard its legal mechanism for limiting teachers’ total compensation increase to 3.8 percent?
Yes, School Board Vice President Lawrie Kobza said Saturday, “I feel very strongly that this was a mistake,” said Kobza, who acknowledged that most board members endorse the agreement with Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union.
State law allows districts to avoid arbitration by making a so-called qualified economic offer, or QEO, by boosting salaries and benefits a combined 3.8 percenter a year.
“To agree before a negotiation starts that we’re not going to impose the QEO and negotiate health care weakens the district’s position,” Kobza said. She contended the district’s rising health-care costs are harming its ability to raise starting teachers’ salaries enough to remain competitive.
The “voluntary impasse resolution” agreements, which are public records, are used in only a handful of Wisconsin’s 425 school districts, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
Carol Carstensen posted an alt view on Concessions before negotiations. Related: What a sham(e), Sun Prairie Cuts Health Care Costs & Raises Teacher Salaries – using the same Dean Healthcare Plan and “Going to the Mat for WPS“. TJ Mertz says Susan neglected to mention the QEO (note that the a majority of the MMSD school board agreed not to arbitrate over the QEO or health care casts in “Concessions before negotiations”.
Cullen has proposed a plan of attack he hopes will lead to more money from the state. Several school board members expressed support for the idea.
Members hope to start their push for change May 7, when they meet with the state Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, and Assembly Rep. Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville.
If anything can be done, it must be done soon. The Legislature is working on a two-year budget for the state, with a deadline to pass it by June 30.
Cullen proposes districts like Janesville’s could get relief from the state under a “50-25-25” formula:
Interesting, including former State Senator Tim Cullen’s presence on the Janesville school board. Health care costs are also an issue in Janesville.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced this morning she will order a $125-per-pupil cut for public school students to deal with the state’s growing fiscal problem.
Letters to school superintendents informing them of the cuts will go out on Monday, the governor said.
The Legislature would then have 30 days to react. Lawmakers could accept or reject the cuts, or come up with the money to avoid the reductions.
“I’m angry at the Senate Republicans for having an extremist ideology. No matter what happens to Michigan, they won’t consider revenues,” Granholm told reporters this morning.
Michigan has lost many auto industry jobs over the past few years.
A letter to the editor from The Capital Times:
Dear Editor: With the multitude of challenges it’s facing, the Madison Metropolitan School District needs all the friends it can get. But the district is alienating central city neighborhoods that value quality public education and the people who are willing to pay for it.
At election time, voters in Ward 34 on Madison’s near east side always turn out in huge numbers to support schools. In May 2005, Ward 34 cast the most votes in the district in favor of all three referendum questions, including one calling for a new Leopold School on the south side. In fall 2006, Ward 34 cast the most yes votes — 1,849 of them — on the referendum that included building an elementary school on the far west side.
So where is MMSD planning to cut costs to deal with its latest budget crisis? Ward 34!
O’Keeffe Middle and Marquette Elementary (where Ward 34 votes) are two of the most successful schools in the district, by any measure. But for some reason, the district thinks it’s a good idea to save money by uprooting and consolidating Marquette at the Lapham site and transforming O’Keeffe into a mega-middle school of as many as 800 students. That’s some gratitude.
The district will need a lot of support as it struggles with state-imposed spending caps, exploding health care costs, changing demographic patterns, and other threats. But if the district follows through on its plans for Marquette and O’Keeffe, it can no longer take that support for granted.
Joseph Rossmeissl, Madison
A press release from the Urban League:
April 26, 2007
Contact: Scott Gray
Cherokee Middle School Principal to Receive the 2007 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Equal Opportunity Award
Madison, WI: The Urban League of Greater Madison recently announced that it will present Cherokee Heights Middle School Principal Karen Seno with the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Equal Opportunity Award.
The award is given annually by Boards of Directors of Urban League affiliates from across the country in memory of the great civil rights leader and former head of the National Urban League. Young was one of America’s most charismatic, courageous and influential civil rights pioneers. He worked tirelessly to gain access for blacks to good jobs, education, housing, health care and social services.
Continue reading Cherokee principal to receive equal opportunity award →
|Fund Balance as Percent of General Fund Expenditures
FY 2000 Thru FY 2006
Source: Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance
|Equity Fund (M)
The Administration used a “salary savings” account to “balance” the budget. When such savings did not materialize, the MMSD’s equity (the difference between an organization’s assets and liabilities) declined.
Interestingly, Madison School Board members Beth Moss, Carol Carstensen and Maya Cole have advocated the continued reduction in the District’s equity as a means to help balance the 2007 / 2008 $339M+ budget. Beth proposed budgeting an additional $2.133M in “salary savings” above the planned $1M while Carol sought $2M and Maya asked for an additional $500K. [Board member proposed 2007/2008 budget amendments 540K PDF]
Finally, several years ago, I received an email from a person very concerned about the “dramatic” decline in the MMSD’s “reserves”, which according to this person were, at one time over $50M. I asked for additional data on this matter, but never heard from that person again.
The equity fund’s decline gives the MMSD less wiggle room over time, and means that we, as a community face decisions related to facilities, staffing and services. Hopefully, the MMSD board and administration can start to consider and implement new approaches, including virtual learning tools and expanded collaboration with community assets like the UW, MATC and others. I hope that we can move beyond the annual “same service approach” and begin to think differently. Peter Gascoyne’s 5 year approach to budgeting is a good place to start
“[Ask] what is the best quality of education that can be purchased for our district for $280 million a year. Start with a completely clean slate. Identify your primary goals and values and priorities. Determine how best to achieve those goals to the highest possible level, given a budget that happens to be $40 million smaller than today’s. Consider everything – school-based budgeting, class sizes, after-school sports, everything.”
A definition of “equity”. 2007 / 2008 $339M+ MMSD Citizen’s Budget
Development on the isthmus continues, according to two two stories in the news today, making the prospect of closing central-city schools rather shortsighted.
From a longer story by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:
E. Dayton Apartments: In other action Monday night, a plan from developer Scott Lewis and architect John Sutton for a five-story, 48-unit apartment building at 22 E. Dayton St. was referred to the May 7 meeting of the commission.
A plan for the site was approved in August 2006 that included razing a former church building wing for expansion of the First United Methodist Church on East Johnson Street. Those plans also called for moving a seven-unit apartment building from 18 E. Dayton to 208 N. Pinckney St. and demolishing a two-family home at 24 E. Dayton — all to allow construction of the 48-unit apartment building.
The new apartment building would feature 47 underground parking spaces and a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units.
From a story by Barry Adams in the Wisconsin State Journal:
Marling Lumber Co. will move from the 1800 block of East Washington Avenue near the Yahara River and has put the 3.8-acre property up for sale. Officials with the 103-year-old company, which has been at the location since 1920, say the move to T. Wall Properties’ The Center for Industry & Commerce along Highway 51 will provide room for growth.
The sale will also likely mean new life for the East Washington Avenue site and help create a gateway to the central city.
“That’s a very critical site especially when you factor in Fiore Plaza across the street,” said Steve Steinhoff, Dane County’s community development coordinator. “The two of those redevelopment projects together really have the potential to redefine that area.”
I previously wrote that growth on the city’s outskirts will likely slow as the world runs short of petroleum products and gasoline prices climb beyond where they’ve ever been before
Billionares to start $60M Education Issue Presidential Campaign PR Effort.
Eli Broad and Bill Gates, two of the most important philanthropists in American public education, have pumped more than $2 billion into improving schools. But now, dissatisfied with the pace of change, they are joining forces for a $60 million foray into politics in an effort to vault education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race.
Experts on campaign spending said the project would rank as one of the most expensive single-issue initiatives ever in a presidential race, dwarfing, for example, the $22.4 million that the Swift Vets and P.O.W.s for Truth group spent against Senator John Kerry in 2004, and the $7.8 million spent on advocacy that year by AARP, the lobby for older Americans.
Under the slogan “Ed in ’08,” the project, called Strong American Schools, will include television and radio advertising in battleground states, an Internet-driven appeal for volunteers and a national network of operatives in both parties.
“I have reached the conclusion as has the Gates foundation, which has done good things also, that all we’re doing is incremental,” said Mr. Broad, the billionaire who founded SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home and who has long been a prodigious donor to Democrats. “If we really want to get the job done, we have got to wake up the American people that we have got a real problem and we need real reform.”
I’m glad they are doing this. However, top down rarely works, particularly with an issue this broad.
www.edin08.com. Former LA Superintendent and Colorado Governor Roy Romer is Chair. [118K PDF]
Ed Policy 08 is a “A non-partisan blog focused on Educational Policy in the 2008 election for President of the United States.” The site is written anonymously by a classroom teacher. RSS feed.
Catholic school parents and administrators are upset by proposed Madison school district budget cuts that would eliminate the bus service they receive to get their kids to school.
But the school district is hoping to trim nearly $230,000 from its budget by offering more than $162,000 directly to parents to transport their children instead of providing yellow school bus service to five Catholic schools in the Madison district. Busing those students is projected to cost about $392,000 in 2007-08.
State statutes require public school districts to provide transportation for students in private schools as well as public schools, but Madison district officials say it costs them more than 50 percent more per pupil to bus the Catholic school students. Underlying the proposal is the need for the Madison School Board and administrators to find nearly $8 million to cut from next year’s budget to comply with state-imposed revenue caps.
There are 358 students who attend St. Dennis, St. James, Edgewood Campus School, St. Maria Goretti and Queen of Peace schools who would be affected by the policy change.
2006/2007 and 2007/2008 MMSD Citizen’s Budget.
Madison School Board member Lucy Mathiak’s proposed 2007 / 2008 MMSD budget amendments. The 07/08 budget will grow from $333M+ on 06/07 to $339M+. Much more on the budget, here. 2006 / 2007 MMSD citizen’s budget [2007 / 2008 35K PDF – thanks to Chan S. for sending this link in]
Lucy mentioned that she supports Lawrie Kobza’s proposal to restore 5th grade strings.
Some years ago, while reading a book on Sherman’s March to the sea, a distant relative (who lives in the south) pointed out that the book was “one perspective”. Madison has a middle school named “Sherman“. Which sort of proves the point. A reader pointed out that Sherman middle school was named for “Roger Sherman”, signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Indeed, it was one perspective.
Vang Pao elementary school offers us an opportunity to discuss the American experience in Southeast Asia with our children:
Continue reading Vang Pao Elementary School and The American Experience →
From a story by Susan Troller in The Capital Times:
Several principals spoke persuasively about the advantages of mid-size schools at Monday night’s Madison School Board meeting, but they apparently failed to sway any votes in support of school closings.
Cherokee Middle School Principal Karen Seno said she has allocated resources at her school to emphasize small class size, and the result is a school where there are generally two adults in every classroom.
Principals are weighing in on their view of possible school closings.
“Cherokee feels to me like a happy medium,” Seno said, neither too big nor too small. “It feels really intimate,” she added, which helps students connect with teachers and creates a learning environment where no one falls through the cracks. But the numbers at Cherokee — 538 students this year — also allow for a degree of program options and staffing that smaller schools don’t enjoy.
Newly elected board members Maya Cole and Beth Moss, who took their oaths of office at the meeting, said they were still inclined to vote against school consolidations. That seems to be the majority position on the board, with Carol Carstensen and Lucy Mathiak also saying they oppose consolidation plans that would affect a number of small schools on the east side.
Via a reader’s email; Solomon Friedberg:
Mathematics is crucial in the modern world. It is the foundation of modern science and engineering, and the prerequisite to any number of careers. Children’s formal learning of mathematics occurs throughout elementary school, and their success or failure at this level will have an impact on the entire rest of their lives.
Thus it is vital that elementary teachers be well-prepared to teach mathematics.
You would think that all elementary teachers know elementary math. After all, they are college graduates. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. For example, mathematics educator Liping Ma, a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, reports that only 43 percent of a group of “above average” U.S. elementary teachers chosen for their interest in math could carry out a simple calculation involving division of fractions.
Moreover, teaching elementary school math requires more than simply knowing how to do elementary school math. Teachers must be able to present mathematics as a coherent body of knowledge rather than a bunch of arbitrary rules, to recognize and address a range of misconceptions, to encourage mathematical thinking and develop student self-confidence. They need to know elementary math well enough to teach it in all its subtlety.
In Ma’s study, only 4 percent of U.S. teachers were able to write a story problem that corresponded to the division of fractions problem. If that’s the case, how can they teach this subject well?
Continue reading Teachers Must be Up for Count →
1. Kennedy Heights Community Center with the support of many other individuals and groups is organizing a walk from Kennedy Heights Community Center to Gompers Elementary School to raise awareness about the potential closings of Lindbergh Elementary School and Black Hawk middle school. Neighborhood Schools are a community resource for the children and families in Kennedy Heights and the northside; closing the schools would negatively impact our neighborhood, our community center, and the families that live here. Please come and walk with us to keep northside schools open.
The walk will start at the Kennedy Heights Community Center at 4:00 PM on Monday April 23rd – we will walk together from Kennedy Heights to Gompers Elementary school about 1.3 miles. At Gompers their will be a brief discussion and Popsicles for kids. All are welcome please distribute widely.
PS I know that school board members have a meeting at 5:00 PM, but I hope you can join us
for the beginning of our walk.
2. Join a grassoots rally: “An Hour For Marquette” – On Friday, April 27, from 1:30 – 2:30 come to Marquette and pull your Marquette student from class to protest the proposed consolidation (All concerned parents, students, and other community members are welcome to join in). We will rally at the school. Bring a sign that expresses your feeling about Marquette. We will be working to get press coverage and a visit from the Mayor. If you are interested in attending the rally e-mail Dea Larsen Converse at email@example.com or Maria Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give a head count to the papers.
(Note that this is not a PTG sponsored event)
It’s not over yet! Let’s keep the pressure on!
The MMSD could save one or more teaching positions by combining two positions – public relations and government relations.
The government relations position seems unnecessary given the excellent work of Arlene Silviera and the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools. They have done more in a few short months than the MMSD has ever done to raise awareness about inadequate state funding.
Additionally, most district do not employ a lobbyist, but rely on the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Wisconsin Council for Administrators of Special Services, and other organizations lobbying in the state Capitol
The PR position doesn’t seem necessary because the press seems to want to talk to the superintendent, not the PR guy.
Put the two positions together and the MMSD loses nothing and saves services delivered directly to students.
KitchenTableMath and Text Savvy aren’t happy with the Education Department’s advice to parents on teaching children math:
Try to be aware of how your child is being taught math, and don’t teach strategies and shortcuts that conflict with the approach the teacher is using.
There are many reasons parents might be interested in their children’s math program(s), including this discussion of math scores. Math Forum audio / video.
A controversial plan to close and consolidate schools on Madison’s North and East sides appears dead a week before the Madison School Board’s self- imposed deadline for determining $7.9 million in spending reductions.
Four of the board’s seven members plan to vote against Superintendent Art Rainwater’s proposal to save $1 million by closing tiny Lindbergh Elementary and reshuffling hundreds of other students in elementary and middle schools, according to interviews with all board members.
The plan could be revived, however, if board members fail to find a comparable amount of cost savings elsewhere in the district’s 2007-08 budget.
Related 2007-2008 MMSD Budget (07/08 budget is either $339M or $345M (- I’ve seen both numbers used); up from $333M in 06/07) Posts:
Can anyone explain why the discussion of ways to meet the gap in next year?s school budget has not included any mention of the cost of teachers? salaries and benefits and how much they are expected to go up next year?
The district has projected a budget deficit for next year of $7.9 million. To arrive at this figure, the district has to make some assumption about the costs of salaries and benefits for next year, which necessarily implies an assumption about how much those costs will increase. There seems to be no information available from the district that explains that assumption.
In last week’s Isthmus, Jason Shepard wrote that salaries and benefits are slated to rise 4.7% next year. That figure comes from a five-year budget projection that is available on the district’s web site. However, I have been told that that figure is not accurate. The district’s contract with MTI for next year has not yet been negotiated (bargaining commences on April 25). I have been told that the district wants to keep its budget assumptions about salaries and benefits confidential for now, in order to avoid adversely affecting its bargaining position. The idea is to preserve the possibility that the district could do better in its bargaining than it is now assuming.
This explanation does not seem compelling to me, for a couple of reasons. First, call me a cynic, but I can’t imagine that the very competent folks at MTI cannot figure out what assumptions the district is utilizing, and so those the district is leaving in the dark include everyone except MTI. Second, once the district has gone through the agony of the current round of budget cuts, it will have very little incentive to try to do better in bargaining than the result that it has already planned for.
It seems to me that the cost of salaries and benefits is the dog that didn’t bark in the current discussion of budget cuts. The amount by which those costs will go up next year has a significant impact on the amount of cuts that will be required.
Continue reading Budget Cuts: The Dog that Didn’t Bark →
From Diana Kasbaum, Mathematics Consultant & School Improvement Consultant, Title I and School Support Team, WI Department of Public Instruction
This is a reminder that the WI Mathematics Council’s Annual Conference (May 2-4) is fast approaching and will provide valuable opportunities to schools and districts using Title I funding for mathematics. As noted below, the Wednesday pre-conference focus is ‘Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners’ and will focus on ELL, Special Education and Gifted & Talented. The information will be valuable to those who work with Title I students. There are also keynote and sectional presentations about interventions, struggling learners, special education and Title I at the conference on Thursday and Friday.
Additional information can also be found at: http://wismath.org/GL.html.
If you have further questions about Title I mathematics, please feel free to contact me: Diana.Kasbaum@dpi.state.wi.us.
Joel Rubin and Howard Blume:
The 115-page report — based on previously conducted audits and analyses as well as interviews with more than 100 district employees — describes an operation beset by an almost complete lack of accountability or consequences for poor performance, running from the most senior staff to school principals. Job descriptions are often unclear and evaluations rarely pegged to improved district performance, while communication among various corners of the organization is muddled or nonexistent, the report found.
“The most apparent and inhibiting deficit standing in the way of instructional coherence in LAUSD today is a lack of accountability,” said the report by Florida-based Evergreen Solutions. “Currently, directives are given but few, if any, consequences are enforced for noncompliance.”
Perhaps the overriding message in the report is that past recommendations, made in one study after another, have rarely moved from paper to reality. In an interview, Brewer promised that things would be different this time.
In the 1970s, when Ms. Magazine came out, there was a great story about three (heterosexual) couples who got together for dinner: a lawyer, a chemist, a teacher, a lawyer, a manager, and a lawyer, and one of the lawyers looked around the room and said: “This will be great, we’re all lawyers!” (the men were lawyers).
In a similar way, I feel that history books just get completely overlooked in schools. People who talk about writing in the schools, talk about fiction, and people who talk about reading (in the schools) talk as if nonfiction just did not exist. It does not seem to find a place in their thoughts. Literature Rules! (good and bad)…
I know that, in the early days of women’s liberation (1970s version), men would sometimes catch themselves, and say, “or she,” and the like, but it was a real struggle. Now in schools there may be people who mention nonfiction in the same way, but history and other nonfiction have not really moved into the mainstream. There is a glass ceiling for nonfiction so thick, that people standing on it, as a floor, do not even see nonfiction down there waiting its turn.
The Nonfiction Liberation Movement should challenge that Hegemonic monopoly and at least teach educators that to mention writing, without mentioning academic expository writing (term papers), and to talk of reading, without mentioning history, is to be politically incorrect!
Then perhaps the downtrodden brothers and sisters in the History Departments will dare to assert themselves and say, boldly, to the astonishment of their peers, “I am going to assign a complete history book this semester!” and “I am going to assign a serious Extended Research Essay this semester!” A cadre of new Nonfiction Freedom Riders will arise, and our kids will no longer be sent off to college and into the world never having read a complete history book or written one serious nonfiction term paper.
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics? 
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA
Susan Troller writes:
But when you ask the kids why they like poetry, they don’t talk about history or literature. They just say it’s fun.
Making school names local, as suggested by Capital Times editor John Nichols, is a sensible goal. Make school names local The Madison School Board had an open nomination process and it held televised public hearings on the naming of the new west side elementary school. We did so to hear the preferences of local people and their reasons for their choices.
Over several months, we sought and received nominations. While we heard from some people living outside the district, we heard primarily from people from the district.
During these months I came to the conclusion that naming a school after Hmong General Vang Pao would meet important local needs, the need to recognize the sacrifices of the Hmong generation who were US allies during the Vietnam War and to explain the Hmong presence in our community which is a direct result of that alliance.
Having heard from many Hmong speakers during the hearings and from my colleague, Shwaw Vang, about the role that Vang Pao played in their lives, I did not feel that substituting a different Hmong name was an option. I could not imagine telling Shwaw Vang that I had decided that he is a more appropriate hero for the Hmong people in the Madison district. I believe that such an action would have shown great disrespect for the very people that we hope to acknowledge are part of our community and play very positive roles in our community.
The tradition in MMSD—rightly or wrongly—has been to name some schools after national heroes, some after locations, some after people who made significant contributions to the state or the district and some after people who have earned respect locally, even though the honorees were not without controversy. To me, naming the school after General Vang Pao fits in that range.
The new Madison School Board heard a brief strings performance from some students this evening at a Memorial High School budget hearing.
Left to right: Jacinth Sohi, Beth Moss, Carol Carstensen, Maya Cole, Johnny Winston, Jr., Lawrie Kobza, Arlene Silveira and Lucy Mathiak.
According to a report from a recent East High United meeting, where MMSD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Pam Nash did a presentation on the District’s high school redesign plans, the following eleven people have been named to the redesign committee:
Pam Nash — Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, former principal of Memorial HS. While at Memorial, Ms. Nash oversaw the development and implementation of the “neighborhoods” school restructuring and implementation of the 9th grade core curriculum.
Alan Harris — Principal of East HS, former principal at Black Hawk MS.
Loren Rathert — Interim principal at LaFollette HS, former interim principal at East HS, former MMSD Social Studies Coordinator, and former principal at West HS. While at West, Mr. Rathert oversaw the development and initial implementation of the SLC grant, including the initial implementation of the school restructuring and the 9th and 10th grade core curriculum.
Ed Holmes — Principal at West HS (since fall, 2004), former principal at Wright MS and former assistant principal at West HS. Mr. Holmes has been principal at West during the continued implementation of the SLC grant, school restructuring, and 9th and 10th grade core curriculum.
Bruce Dahmen — Principal at Memorial HS.
Sally Schultz — Principal at Shabazz HS.
Steve Hartley — MMSD Director of Alternative Programs. These include the Transitional Education Program (TEP), the School-Age Parent Program (SAPAR), Operation Fresh Start, the Omega program and many others. Mr. Hartley also oversees the District’s implementation of the state-mandated Youth Options Program (YOP), which requires the District to pay for appropriate educational opportunities for eligible high school juniors and seniors whose needs cannot be met at their own schools. A wide range of students may take advantage of YOP. The District’s YOP implementation and — importantly — policy regarding the giving of high school credit for non-MMSD courses is currently under review and has been discussed on this blog —
Lisa Wachtel — Director of MMSD Teaching and Learning Department, former MMSD Science Coordinator. Dr. Wachtel oversees a staff of 30-40 educational professionals across a variety of content areas. Possibly important, when asked by the Superintendent to cut two people from her staff for next year, she chose to eliminate two TAG staff (leaving a TAG staff of only five people for the entire district, if the BOE approves the cut).
L. Alan Phelps — Professor in the U.W. Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (School of Education) and Director of the U.W. Center on Education and Work. He seems to have special interests in special education and intercultural learning. Here are links to two of his recent papers, one entitled “Using Post-School Outcomes Data to Improve Practices and Policies in Restructured Inclusive High Schools” and another entitled “High Schools with Authentic and Inclusive Learning Practices: Selected Features and Findings” —
M. Bruce King — Faculty Associate in the U.W. Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (School of Education). Dr. King is a longtime West area parent and was hired by the District to serve as the West HS SLC Evaluator. He is the author of the November, 2005, report on West’s English 10 initiative that has been heavily discussed on this blog — http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2005/11/evaluation_of_t.php
Diana Hess — Associate Professor in the U.W. Department of Curriculum and Instruction (School of Education). Dr. Hess’s special area is social studies education, with a particular interest in training teachers to do discussion-based instruction, especially around controversial issues. Here is a link to an article by Dr. Hess entitled “Teaching Students to Discuss Controversial Public Issues” — http://www.indiana.edu/~ssdc/cpidig.htm
From the MMSD:
For immediate release
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Six elementary schools to have different principals
Six elementary schools will have different principals next year in a series of transfers and changes within the Madison School District. The principals who are transferring have been at their current schools from four to ten years.
The list of new assignments, by principal, with current school and length of service:
Deborah Hoffman to Lincoln from Franklin (10 yrs.)
Beth Lehman to Hawthorne from Lincoln (6 yrs.)
Catherine McMillan to Franklin from Hawthorne (10 yrs.)
Michael Hertting to Lapham from a leave of absence
Kristi Kloos to Lake View from Lapham (4 yrs.)
Joy Larson to Allis from Marquette (4 yrs.)
Allis Principal Chris Hodge and Gompers Principal Sherrill Wagner will retire this summer, and Lake View Principal Linda Sweeney will take a leave of absence for career exploration. Hertting will come off a similar leave; previously he led Orchard Ridge for five years. Vacancies will be filled within the next few months.
“We believe these assignment changes are good for the students, the staff, the principals and the district,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater. “Last year, we shifted six other elementary principals after stays of similar length.”
Parents at each of the schools were notified yesterday. The changes will take place over the summer in time for the Tuesday, September 4 start of the new school year. Each of the principals will assist her successor in the transition to make it more effective and efficient.
Constant shuffling of principals damages the effectivenss of the MMSD. All the rhetoric about building relationships amounts to nothing but words, when these actions speak louder.
The superintendent named no principal at Marquette. Apparently, he plans to “consolidate” Lapham and Marquette regardless of whether the board votes for it or not.
With the uncertainty and stress about staff cuts and school closings, the changes could not come at a worse time.
Is the superintendent hell-bent on destroying the MMSD?
After more than two years of study, a group of Waukesha educators has drafted a set of guidelines that challenge some traditional notions of grading.
Among the recommendations:
- Removing evaluations of student participation, effort, attendance and behavior from academic results.
- Ending the use of zeros for late or unfinished work, a “potentially damaging practice in a 100 point scale,” in favor of other methods that motivate students to complete their assignments.
- Allowing homework used for practice or preparation to account for no more than 10% of a grade, with project work getting more weight.
- Replacing averages, which allow single grades to skew final class assessments, with medians, which more accurately reflect a student’s overall class performance, in final grades.
School District officials stress that the guidelines, which are in the midst of being distributed to principals and teachers and go before a School Board committee today, are just that – guidelines. They insist the district is not interested in mandating universal changes to how teachers assign grades, often considered among a teacher’s most personal tasks.
I’ve heard from local parents again concerned about the lack of data in some Madison elementary school report cards. Several 2006 posts addressed this issue: Can We Talk 3: 3rd Quarter Report Cards; Mary Kay Battaglia, an Elvejhem Parent via Ruth Robarts and Thoreau parents.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is pleased to announce the launch of the AWEA Educational Scholarship Fund. In cooperation with the generous support of Suzlon Wind Energy and Vestas Americas, this new scholarship program was created to provide complimentary conference registration for individuals interested in enhancing their knowledge of the wind industry, including full-time students, faculty and staff of K-12 institutions among others who want to attend those interested in attending the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference and Exhibition in Los Angeles, June 3-6, 2007.
The deadline for submitting an application for WINDPOWER 2007 Conference and Exhibition is April 28, 2007.
More details and application here.
The Madison School District’s Math Task Force was introduced to the School Board last night. Watch the video or listen to the mp3 audio.
6th Grade Textbooks: Connected (left) and Singapore Math.
UPDATE: A reader emailed this:
I noticed that there were 10 student books in the 6th grade pile for CMP. That was surprising since there are only 8 in publication. Then I looked at the teacher editions and noticed there were 10 as well. There are two copies of both How Likely is It? and Covering and Surrounding.
The statement, “A quick look at the size of the Connected Math textbooks compared to the equivalent Singapore Math course materials illustrates the publisher and author interests in selling these large volumes irrespective of curriculum quality and rigor (not to mention the much larger potential for errors or the lost trees….)” is following the picture in one of the discussions. Taking a look at the Singapore Math website It appears that in addition to the 2 textbooks pictured and student workbooks pictured, there are Intensive Practice books, Extra Practice Books, and Challenging Word Problems books, as well as other resources. Also, the white book on the bottom of the pile appears to be an answer key. There are also teacher guides for 6A and 6B that are not in the picture.
I’m not suggesting the statement above is false, I would just like to point out that the picture being used is not an accurate comparison. I hope you find this information valuable.
Long time teacher, former school board member/president and activist Bill Keys spoke last night during Ruth and Shwaw’s retirement discussions. Video | mp3 audio
According to Arlene Silveira, the superintendent named the following members of a math task force:
Merle Price (co-chair): an adjunct faculty member in education policy at Cal State University, Northridge. A former high school principal and deputy superintendendt for Los Angeles Unifed School District.
Jim Lewis (co-chair): professor of mathematics at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Was department for 15 years and has numerous NSF grants, including funding to improve mathematics education.
Neither co-chair has been directly involved in NCTM-based curricula implementation, in the interest of impartiality.
Norman Webb, mathematics educator and evaluator
Martha Alibali, cognitive scientist
David Griffeath, mathematician
Eric Knuth, math education researcher
Mitchell Nathan, cognitive scientist
Ken Zeichner, university teacher education expert
A K-12 teacher and a parent are still to be named.
No MMSD employee is on the task force, in the interest of impartiality. Lisa Wachtel and Brian S. will serve as point people for the task force if information or data is needed for the district.
The Board will be responsible for setting the direction of the task force and making decisions on “branch points” in the process. The community will be involved.
National Writing Project:
While 98 percent of Americans believe that good writing skills are very important to succeed in today’s economy, roughly half believe the quality of students’ writing skills has declined over the past 20 years, a report released by the Berkeley, Calif.-based National Writing Project says.
Two-thirds of the people surveyed wanted more resources earmarked for writing instruction, and almost three-fourths thought writing should be taught to students in every subject at every grade level. Seventy-four percent of respondents thought good writing skills were important regardless of what career students pursue. The study surveyed a representative sample of 1,501 adults in the United States.
This is a two-parter.
In 2006-2007, the Business Services Department of the MMSD spent $111,286,422, according to page 2-118 of the document titled Department & Division Detailed Budget.
In the previous year’s budget process, the board approved spending of $110,245,079, according to page 10 of the Executive Summary, 2006-2007 School Year.
Why did Business Services overspend by $1,041,343? Did the board approve additional spending beyond what was initially approved in the 2006-2007 budget?
In the current budget for next year, the superintendent’s proposed budget would INCREASE the amount to $114,239,659. Simply freezing the Business Services budget would reduce spending in the proposed budget by $2,953, 237 ($114,239,659 minus $111,286,422 = $2,953, 237).
The freeze would avoid micro-management by the board. It simply gives the administration a budget figure, and the administration will be free to operate within the budget.
The proposed plans to “consolidate” schools and move alternative programs would save $769,450. [See Discussion Item C-19 of the document titled Superintendent’s Budget Changes (Reductions to Balance the Budget) 2007-08]
Miranda S. Spivack and Daniel de Vise:
Some council members said they resent the pressure.
“The suggestion,” Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) said, “is that unless I support 100 percent” of Weast and the school board’s budget plan, “I’m not a friend to education.”
Weast’s budget proposal this year included an increase of more than 7 percent from last year’s budget and totals nearly half of the county’s $4 billion spending plan. Leggett proposed a 6.3 percent increase for the schools. The school system’s budget has increased 31 percent over the past four years, according to a county report.
“I am hard-pressed to believe that in a budget of $2 billion . . . [Weast] cannot find ways to absorb” $20 million, Leggett said recently.
Leggett also has taken a different approach from Duncan to drafting the county budget. Duncan left behind a budget gap that ballooned to nearly $200 million this year, Leggett said, leaving it to him to ask government agencies across the board to scale back their wish lists. The school system, whose annual spending of more than $13,000 per student leads the state, would not be immune, he told Weast in one of their few private meetings.
Grade 5 elementary string students need your help. There are ways you can support the hundreds of ten-year olds who are in Grade 5 strings and this year’s Grade 4 students who would like the chance to take the course next year:
A. Bring your child to play his/her instrument at Thursday’s Budget Hearing – April 19th at 6:00 p.m., Memorial High School Auditorium.
If your child would like to “play” in support of Grade 5 strings, there will be an opportunity to do this at Thursday’s budget hearing to be held in the auditorium at Memorial High School ( http://www.mmsd.org/145.htm). Students from grades 5-12 are welcome. There will be adults present to help coordinate the playing of a few songs from the strings festival. If you want to play, please come at 6 p.m., so we can organize the students.
B. Email the School Board – email@example.com – let them know:
1. you support the program for all children,
2. what this course has meant to your child if your child is/has
taken elementary strings,
3. you would like the newly formed school board community task
force on fine arts to have a chance to do it’s work, which
a. identifying the community’s fine arts education values and
b. identifying ways to increase low-income/minority
participation in the arts (45% elementary string students
are minority, 35% are low income), and
c. identifying funding priorities for the School Board
C. Speak at the Budget Hearings – 6:30 p.m. – Tuesday, April 17th at La Follette High School Auditorium and Thursday, April 19th at Memorial High School Auditorium:
There are two public hearings next week on the budget – Tuesday, April 17th, 6:30 p.m. at La Follette High School and Thursday, April 19th, 6:30 p.m. at Memorial High School – both public hearings are in the school’s auditoriums. If you come, you need to sign if you want to speak. You can sign in and not speak but say you support the program. Each person who speaks is given 3 minutes.
For nearly 40 years, MMSD has had an elementary strings program. Two years ago, elementary string instruction was cut in half. Last year, Grade 4 strings was cut entirely. This year, Superintendent Rainwater is proposing to cut Grade 5 strings, which would eliminate all string instruction during the school day.
Thank you for your support of Grade 5 strings and a strong fine arts education for our children.
Susan Troller’s recent article on possible school closings mentioned that some Madison Schools have smaller populations than others in the District. I’ve posted a simple table that summarizes MMSD elementary, middle and high school student population numbers with those from nearby suburban communities: Middleton-Cross Plains, Monona Grove, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona and Waunakee. MMSD facility map.
I’d like to add more districts to this table along with links to performance data, then plot it all on a map. Let me know if you have some time to help compile the data.
Karyn Saemann’s article on Monona’s search for new young families adds another twist to the discussion.
First, a disclaimer. I am far from an expert on most of the topics which will be illustrated by questions. One of my aims in giving this talk is to let others know about a serious problem which exists beyond the problem of mathematical knowledge of teachers.
I have written about the problem in mathematics and hope that some others will use the resouces which exist to write about similar problems in other areas.
In his American Educational Research Association Presidential Address, which was published in Educational Researcher in 1986, Lee Shulman introduced the phrase “pedagogical content knowledge”. This is a mixture of content and knowing how to teach this content and is the one thing from his speech which has been picked up by the education community. However, there are a number of other points which he made which are important. Here is an early paragraph from this speech:
We begin our inquiry into conceptions of teacher knowledge with the tests for teachers that were used in this country during the last century [the 19th] at state and county levels. Some people may believe that this idea of testing teacher competence in subject matter and pedagogical skill is a new idea, an innovation spawned in the excitement of this era of educational reform, and encouraged by such committeed and motivated national leaders as Albert Shanker, President, American Federation of Teachers, Bill Honig, State Superintendent of Schools, California, and Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas. Like most good ideas, however, it’s roots are much older.
It took Wisconsin almost 20 years to adopt this “good idea”.
Can anyone explain Discussion Item C-9, which says “Excluding from the cross-categorical special education allocation formula, Students with a Speech and Language Only Disability?” (I attached the district’s explanation below.)
It appears that speech and language clinicians will provide “special education services and supports,” but speech and language clinicians aren’t trained to deliver special education services. Is it a good idea to have untrained staff providing services to kids who need specially trained staff?
Additionally, this change will supposedly eliminate 22.5 FTE educational assistants and 22.5 FTE teachers. Will those positions be special education EAs and teachers?
It appears to me that special education students are going to be badly short-changed and mis-served.
Does anyone have another take on the cuts?
Continue reading Does budget make untrained staff responsible for special ed needs of speech and language kids? →
From: Thomas Mertz
Subject: Referendum Budget and School Closings
A group of parents and community members are working to convince the Board not to close schools or make other nearly irreversible cuts before offering the voters a chance to pass an operating referendum. You can help. More details here.
Please follow the link, read and sign on.
Continue reading Referendum Budget and School Closings →
TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2007
6:30 p.m. Special Board of Education Meeting
1. Public Hearing on the 2007-08 Proposed MMSD Budget
La Follette High School Auditorium
702 Pflaum Road
Madison, WI 53716
THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2007
6:30 p.m. Special Board of Education Meeting
1. Public Hearing on the 2007-08 Proposed MMSD Budget
Memorial High School Auditorium
201 S. Gammon Road
Madison, WI 53717
What students learn in high school doesn’t match with what they need to know as college freshmen, according to a national study released yesterday.
Professors believe high school teachers should cover fewer topics with more depth to prepare students for college. That is one of the findings of the survey by ACT, a nonprofit educational and testing organization.
“A really common complaint from (college) faculty is students not being able to put together a complete sentence properly,” said Erin Goldin, director of the Writing Center, which provides tutoring at Cal State San Marcos.
“When students come in here, . . . I try to explain the rules, but they don’t seem to have learned the structure of a sentence.”
More here and here
From an Associated Press story in the Capital Times by Scott Bauer:
MADISON (AP) – If Wisconsin businesses would pay the national average in state and local taxes, an additional $1.3 billion would flow to school districts, fire departments and other governmental services, a new report concluded.
The study released Wednesday by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, a Democratic-leaning group founded in 1994 and based in Milwaukee, concludes that too many of Wisconsin’s biggest profit-makers are underpaying taxes when compared with their counterparts in other states.
Continue reading Wisconsin businesses don’t pay their fair share →
Please write the School Board about what is important to you and your state legislature about funding our public schools. Following is a copy of my letter to the school board on Grade 5 strings:
Dear School Board Members (firstname.lastname@example.org),
I am happy to serve as a member of the newly created Fine Arts Task Force for the next year. The second charge to the committee is: ” Recommend up to five ways to increase minority student participation and participation of low income students in Fine Arts at elementary, middle and high school levels.”
I noticed in the Grade 5 strings report you received last week there was no information on low-income and minority student enrollment. Our task force received this specific demographic information at our March 26th meeting along with additional information, so I would like to share it with you, because I think it is important. As the program has been cut in the past two years, the low-income and minority student enrollment (numbers and percentage) has remained strong [but the cuts have affected hundreds of low-income students as the numbers show]. For this school year, 44% of the string students are minority students (47% of all Grade 5 students are minority students), and 35% of the string students are low income (44% of Grade 5 students are low income students). This information is captured in the attached Chart for the this year and the previous two years when the program was offered to students in Grades 4 and 5. I’ve also included information on special education student enrollment. I was not able to access ELL information for the previous years.
Decreasing academic opportunities to develop skills at a younger age is more likely to hurt participation at higher grades for low income and minority students who often lack support outside school to strengthen and reinforce what is learned in school either at home or through additional, private opportunities.
I hope you make the decision to give the Fine Arts Task Force an opportunity to complete its charge before making additional cuts to courses, because these cuts may prove to be more harmful to those students we want to reach than we realize. Also, if changes are made, I hope they are done equitably and with time for transitions. I’m asking this not only for arts education but also for other programs and activities Madison values in its public education. Eliminating elementary strings entirely would be the third year of major cuts in either funds or instruction time for students in this program. This seems to me to be overly harsh, especially when you consider that no extracurricular sports have been cut (nor would I support that).
Elementary strings is one arts course, but it has taught up to 2,000+ children in one year and is valued highly by parents and the community. I have 500+ signatures on a petition, which I will share with the board next week that says: “Madison Community Asks the MMSD School Board: Don’t Cut, Work with the Community to Strengthen and Grow Madison’s Elementary String Program. I have many emails with these signatures, and I’m planning to ask folks to write you about what this program means to them, so you hear their words and not only my words.
As I stated when I spoke before you earlier this year, there are those activities where a mix of public and private funding along with fees and grants might work for the arts and for extracurricular sports, for example. Please consider support of this and please consider helping with transitions toward different approaches.
Thank you for your hard work and support for public education.
P.s. – note, I am speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the fine arts task force.
I would also like to add for SIS readers – I know due to the current financing scheme, the state is not funding public schools adequately nor fairly and is placing a huge burden on personal income and property taxes. I also know there have been cuts in previous years to the arts, increases in class sizes, fewer SAGE classes, etc. Just so you know, that is not the point of this letter. I see the need to work both locally and at the state. I also feel we need to be doing something more than referendums at the local level, and I don’t mean cut or referendum. I think in the areas of extracurricular sports, some of the arts, we may be able to put in place a financial package of public, private, fees, grants – but this takes time and planning and commitment by our school board following public discussions on the topic.
Not all minority children are low income, but by far, the majority of low income children are minority. By not working with the community on funding for this high demand, highly valued program, several hundred fewer low income students are receiving skill-based training on an instrument, which scientific research is showing more and more has a positive effect on other areas of academics.
No where else in this city do so many low-income children have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and to do so as inexpensively per student. This is a program where “thinking outside the box” for the School Board could come in handy, so we can continue this academic program as part of the school day for so many children.
UCLA – Graduation School of Education:
The nation’s college freshmen are more financially advantaged today than they have been at any point in the last 35 years and come from families with a median income 60 percent higher than the national average, according to a new UCLA report that examined 40 years of data from UCLA’s national survey of entering undergraduates at four-year colleges and universities.
The report, “American Freshmen: Forty-Year Trends 1966–2006,”documents the values and characteristics of college freshmen nationwide and is part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.
“As colleges and universities continue their financial policies of increasing tuition and fees, we are seeing direct effects on students that come from poorer families,” said José Luis Santos, UCLA assistant professor of education and an author of the report. “Poorer students alter their choices of whether or not to go to college at all, or choose a college based on financial costs and packages. Students from wealthier families can endure greater fluctuations in ‘sticker price’ than poorer students, and as a result, more students entering college come from homes that are increasingly wealthier than the national median income.”
In 2005, entering freshmen came from households with a parental median income of $74,000, 60 percent higher than the national average of $46,326. This represents a 14 percent increase from 1971, whenstudents’ median family income was $13,200, 46 percent higher than the national average of $9,028.
The Waukesha School District’s 2006-2007 Budget ($165,388,112 for 13,063 students = $12,660 – similar per student spending to the Madison Schools. Wisconsin’s average per student spending is just under $10,000.) [1.1MB PDF]
Only a month after voting to eliminate the equivalent of 62 full-time staff positions to avoid a budget shortfall in the coming school year, the School Board began discussions Wednesday about ways to broach nearly $3.7 million in reductions for 2008-’09.
Waukesha Taxpayer League’s Teacher Salary Study
In no school district in Wisconsin is the school tax situation more disgusting than Waukesha. In that community, a demagogic school board and superintendent are threatening draconian cuts including the elimination of all high school sports. Their tactic is anything but subtle. They’re laying the groundwork for a tax increase proposal.
In fact, the Waukesha School District is awash in cash. It has been raising school taxes for decades and is spending thousands more per student than it did only a few years ago. I can solve its budget “crisis” now.
The month of April brings showers; however, for the Madison BOE it brings new beginnings, budget challenges and community dialogue.
First, regarding new beginnings, let me congratulate Beth Moss and Maya Cole on their election onto the Madison School Board. They will be replacing the retiring Shwaw Vang and Ruth Robarts. Our community should be proud of Mr. Vang and Ms. Robarts’ years of service. I was also re-elected to a second term and look forward to continued public service in this position.
In addition to new Board members, the Board decided unanimously to name the new school General Vang Pao Elementary.
Second, the Madison School District faces a $7.9 million dollar shortfall, which has the Board discussing school closings and consolidations, increasing elementary class sizes in several schools, increasing class sizes across the district in elementary art, music, gym and REACH, and eliminating the 5th grade strings program. After 14 years of being under the state imposed revenue limits, the budget cuts are now reaching the point of cutting into the foundation of our educational values.
Third, several public hearings on the budget reductions will be held throughout the community including on Tuesday April 17th at La Follette and Thursday April 19th at Memorial. Both hearings are at 6:30 pm. The 2007-08 budget will be finalized in late April or early May.
Fourth, the Board voted down an operating referendum proposal that could have taken place in the summer. However, given our budgetary situation I won’t be surprised to see an operating referendum on the ballot in February 2008.
Fifth, the Board approved a Request For Proposals for consultants to conduct a superintendent search, and decided on health insurance contributions for administrators.
A full month of public hearings and Board workshop agendas kept many committees from meeting since my last report. However, the committees have played an important part in analysis and discussion this year.
Finance and Operations (Lawrie Kobza, Chair) continues its work on the citizen’s budget. Long Range Planning (Carol Carstensen, Chair) held public hearings in the community regarding the proposed closings and consolidations.
Communications (Arlene Silveira, Chair) held a special workshop regarding community advocacy efforts regarding lobbying our state government for additional K-12 funding. Community Partnerships (Lucy Mathiak, Chair) received a presentation regarding the process and procedure the UW Foundation uses to engage people to make contributions.
On Monday March 26th, the MMSD held its annual recognition awards honoring district staff, students and citizens who have made significant contributions to Madison’s outstanding schools. Nine students received the Joe Thomas Community Service Award, five teachers were recognized for their work toward the Kohl Teacher Fellowship, and eleven individuals received the Distinguished Service Award. For more MMSD news click here: http://mmsd.org/today/
Thank you for your interest and support of the MMSD.
Johnny Winston, Jr., President, Madison Board of Education
Want district information? Go to www.mmsd.org
Write to the entire school board at email@example.com.
Sign up for MMSD communications at http://mmsd.org/lists/newuser.cgi
Watch school board meetings and other district programs on MMSD Channel 10 & 19.
Madison School District
voice 663 1903; cell 608 575 6682; fax 608 204 0342
So how did Cole secure her 3,000-vote majority?
The answer would appear to have a lot to do with threats by school administrators to consolidate and perhaps close schools on the isthmus. A few months before the election, the administration floated the notion that budgets could be balanced by radically altering how Lapham and Marquette elementary schools and O’Keeffe Middle School are organized.
From the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association:
You’re invited to join educators, environmentalists and others at the Environmental Charter Schools Workshop.
Date: May 2, 2007, Wednesday
Time: 9:00am to 2:30pm
Site: MADISON, UW Arboretum
Workshop Program: Unique features of “green” charter schools, integrated environmental curriculum, standards and accountability, charter partners supporting sustainable schools, and implementing a green charter school. Learn more at Green Charter Schools.
Presenters, Partners & Discussion Leaders: JIM McGRATH, founder and former principal of Oshkosh Environmental Charter School; VICTORIA RYDBERG, Teacher, River Crossing Charter School; JULIE SPALDING, Educator, Fox River Academy, and INGRID BEAMSLEY, WCSA Deputy Director
Registration: The registration fee is only $20, which covers the conference, lunch and materials. Send registrant’s name and email address, along with a $20 check payable to the WCSA, to: Wisconsin Charter Schools Association, PO Box 1704, Madison, WI 53701-1704 . Questions? Contact the WCSA at: Tel: 608-661-6946 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or FAX: 608-258-3413
Links to 40 “GREEN” charter schools.
Read about “Green Charter Schools” in Wisconsin Trails magazine.
Madison West Student Natalia Thompson:
Re “In Homework Wars, Student Wins a Battle: More Time to Unwind on Vacation” (On Education column, April 4):
As a 15-year-old high school sophomore with a demanding course load, I read your article with interest.
On regular weekdays, my evenings fill up quickly with daily homework assignments and extracurricular activities. My weekends are my opportunity to catch up on projects and essays, review notes and study for upcoming tests — which leaves hardly any time to relax.
Spring break is a rare occasion for me to unwind, reflect, rejuvenate and prepare for the onslaught of work when I return to school. It’s the only way I keep going.
35 Year Michigan Teacher Ken Feneley:
Brendan Miniter’s description of “how school choice was defeated in South Carolina” (“Cross Country: A Day Late,” op-ed, March 31) perfectly describes the power created by a combination of teacher unions and politicians they help elect to office. What gets lost is what’s best for the kids. In this case, it seems, the paranoid worries about the impact of losing students to schools of choice has outweighed possible benefits that might, just might, happen for 200,000 kids in South Carolina.
There is no apparent competitive spirit among the public school establishment types that is leading them to say what I would have: “Go ahead with school choice and I’ll prove you wrong. Just tell me what I need to do and watch what happens. I’ll change, if needed, and soon you will wish you had had left your kids in my school.”
I would not worry about some lean times while my public school made adjustments. I’d tighten my belt, suck up my pride, take two deep breaths and get to work. I, while teaching for 35 years, fully recognized that the union, the Michigan Education Association, could not have cared less about whether I was a good teacher or not. Its only concern was that I not have more than one prep period per day, did not exceed more than the contracted student numbers per class, that I did not do anything the contract prohibited, that I was paid the same as the teacher down the hall regardless of merit, that teaching and other positions were guaranteed regardless, that as many grievances be filed as possible, and, oh boy, that dues were such that the upper level union employees could be paid better than any contracted teacher in a local school.
Instead, we have this perpetual paranoid promotion of the idea that public schools will decline because of competition. And unionists and unions really do have something to fear, I guess, because if that paranoia dissipates, the teachers union loses its reason for existence: the endless promotion of teacher jobs at union pay rates that support the South Carolina Education Association and the National Education Association infrastructure through union dues. They can’t get along without them.
Notice that student education concerns through my subject matter delivery skills was not mentioned once. Unions don’t care. Obviously, neither do South Carolina politicians.
The month of April brings showers, however, for the Madison BOE it brings new beginnings, budget challenges and community dialogue.
Continue reading April Madison Board of Education Progress Report →
Capital Times Editorial – April 9, 2007:
This year’s race for the Madison School Board seat left open by the retirement of Ruth Robarts makes the case for doing School Board campaigns differently.
This newspaper endorsed mother-on-a-mission Maya Cole over champion-teacher Marj Passman because we thought Cole had some stronger ideas about how to encourage innovation by a school district that is often too cautious when it comes to making needed changes.
But we would have been perfectly satisfied if Passman had won.
The truth about the race was that Cole and Passman were two of the finest contenders for the board that Madison has seen in a long time.
Unfortunately, you would not know that from listening to the campaign.
From the listserve of Communities United:
MAGNET’s Public Policy committee invites you to attend a discussion on the social and economic impact of the changing face of the Madison Metropolitan School District. Superintendent Art Rainwater (Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District) and Dr. Douglas Harris (UW Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies) will conduct the discussion.
Why is this important to you? A community with good schools is a desirable place to live resulting in strong property values and a good economy. The percentage of low income students in the Madison Metropolitan School District has doubled in recent years to 40%. Learn how this impacts our community and how the MMSD is keeping Madison’s schools strong in the face of a dramatic increase of students with greater learning needs.
Superintendent Rainwater has served as the superintendent of the Madison Public School System since 1999. He has over 40 years of experience in education serving as a teacher, principal, and administrator in both public and private schools. Professor Harris is a UW Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty. He is a well-published economist whose work explores factors affecting student educational outcomes, the role of families and neighborhoods in education, and the way in which educational outcomes affect the long-term labor market success of students and the competitiveness of national economies.
We invite anyone with an interest or curiosity to attend.
When: Wed, April 18th
Time: Registration: 6:00 – 6:30p.m. Program: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: McDaniels Auditorium in the Doyle Building at 545 W. Dayton St.
As residents scramble to complete their taxes by this year’s deadline, April 17, there are two contrasting messages coming from Wisconsin’s corporate community on the subject of taxes and economic prosperity.
One of those messages dominates political discussion. It’s easy to state, easy to understand, and easy to put on bumper stickers: Cut My Taxes.
Its chief proponent is Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the Madison-based big-business lobby that for years has focused its legislative agenda on plaintive appeals for a reduced tax burden.
Business boosters disagree, but it’s possible to get to the truth
Jack Norman, in Isthmus, April 4, 2007
Are Wisconsin taxes too high?
The school advocates who rightfully point to the state’s inadequate funding of education want the legislature to adopt Assembly Joint Resolution 35 or the identical Senate Joint Resolution 27. The resolutions call for the following:
1. Funding levels based on the actual cost of what is needed to provide children with a sound education and to operate effective schools and classrooms rather than based on arbitrary per pupil spending levels;
2. State resources sufficient to satisfy state and federal mandates and to prepare all children, regardless of their circumstances, for citizenship and for post−secondary education, employment, or service to their country;
3. Additional resources and flexibility sufficient to meet special circumstances, including student circumstances such as non−English speaking students and students from low−income households, and district circumstances such as large geographic size, low population density, low family income, and significant changes in enrollment;
4. A combination of state funds and a reduced level of local property taxes, derived and distributed in a manner that treats all taxpayers equitably regardless of local property wealth and income . . .
I dug around briefly in various Web sites (WAES and IWF) on these or similar recommendations, and I cannot find a fiscal estimate of whether or how much these changes might increase state aids, how any increase might be funded, and whether property taxes for education would fall. Does anyone have some figures?
If better funding requires the state to raise more money, the legislature should look at the falling proportion of state tax collections from the corporate income tax, raise the corporate income tax to a generate a fairer proportion of state revenue, and put the money into education.
WSJ Editorial – The next time you’re shocked by the announcement of yet another school referendum in your community, don’t tee off on the school board.
There is room for improvement at the local level in this year’s budget process, and I’m hoping the School Board carefully examines the entire budget. By room for improvement, I do not mean “no new taxes” for schools. As part of this spring’s budget process, I hope the School Board looks out several years and begins to make decisions and plan with several years in mind.
I also believe it was irresponsible for the Superintendent to put school closings and increased class sizes on a cut list while leaving in nearly $2 million for extracurricular activities – that’s about 40 teachers in the classroom. I feel the proposed TAG cut was spiteful as was a third year of major cuts for elementary strings at the same time a Community Fine Arts Task Force begins its work. So, yes, I do hope our School Board looks for options, such as saving transportation costs on the near east side as Lucy Mathiak discovered. Also, to keep the arts and sports, we may need to look at multiple sources of funding but some time is needed for discussions, planning and transitions.
If the School Board begins planning now for several years, incorporating this year’s budget and subsequent budgets with strategic financial planning, we’ll have a better chance of laying the groundwork for an operating referendum later this year or early 2008, but we have to begin now. I’m confident we can successfully pass operating referendums.
Lastly, the election was last Tuesday, and the results were decisive, so why aren’t the folks who care so much about public education moving on? I and others were sad when our candidate did not advance in the February primaries, but we did not carry on about it nor wring our hands over the poor media coverage, which many felt there was.
There are more important things to work on, in my humble opinion – learning how to work together might be a place to start since I still believe we all value excellent public education, which is a great starting point from my perspective. Sadly, I am concerned there are those who would rather spend their time labeling those who don’t agree with them as CONSERVATIVES – start shaking in your boots. I prefer not to waste my energy on such foolishness and fear mongering, because I don’t see how that puts the kids first and gets us where we need to be for them.
From Marj Passman’s Web site:
Thank you Madison voters:
This campaign began, in my mind, for the children of Madison. ALL the children. It wasn’t about the parents – let me repeat – it was about our young people. Every single person who came on board and worked their hearts out did it for the same reason. We needed to bring education back to its educators – to its teachers, curriculum designers, staff developers – back to its supporters – the people who care about every child.
This is called Public Education – not partnership with some ethereal, intangible, nether world of ill defined private saviors who aren’t exactly knocking down the doors at Doyle with offers of pots of gold for our struggling school system. It is about us – all of us – working with parents, not against them, working with teachers, not against them, working with administrators and not against them, working with the city, state and federal government not to just get back some money into our striggling schools BUT for what is our right, for PUBLIC EDUCATION. This money is our due- it is owed us – it is not a generous luxury.
We “pay taxes to support the role public education plays in civilizing and enriching our society.” What does that mean? Public education means what is best for all of us – not some of us – it means opportunity, it means mobility, it means our schools must be the “great equalizer” in our country. We cannot and should not educate some of children over others – our schools must be there for every child – for the voiceless and well as the angry few – for the children of poverty – for the children struggling with just the moment to moment functions of daily life. If we lose sight of the hungry, struggling children we lose our souls.
I believe we define ourselves by how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves and that the way we educate ALL of our children will determine what kind of city, community, democracy we have tomorrow.
To all of the caring, decent, humane people who supported my campaign You all mean so much to me – you have added so much to my life . I thank you so much. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.
April 5, 2007
On Monday, April 9, 2007, the board Committee on Community Partnerships, chaired by Lucy Mathiak, meets at 5:00 p.m. and has an agenda item that reads, “Process and procedure the University of Wisconsin Foundation uses to engage people to make contributions to the University of Wisconsin.”
I’m delighted to see the topic on the agenda, because I have always wondered why people give millions to universities and little to public schools. A person’s university education might have been very important and the contributions show their appreciation, but they couldn’t have succeeded at a university without the foundation of earlier education, which needs their contribtuions as badly as any university.
I hope the discussion produces some positive ideas for the MMSD to use in approaching potential donors.