Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

First, I provide some background on the private school voucher imposition proposal. Next, I list thirteen ways in which the proposal and its advocates are hypocritical, inconsistent, irrational, or just plain wrong. Finally, I briefly explain for the benefit of Wisconsin Federation for Children why the students in Madison are not attending failing schools.

Related: Counterpoint by David Blaska.
Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?
2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
2004: Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
2012: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
Scott Bauer

Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven’t heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about them to form an opinion.
“There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction,” pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents’ choices of private or religious schools.
With that cue, 51 percent favored it in some form while 42 percent opposed it.
Walker is a staunch voucher supporter.

More on the voucher proposal, here.
A close observer of Madison’s $392,789,303 K-12 public school district ($14,547/student) for more than nine years, I find it difficult to see substantive change succeeding. And, I am an optimist.
It will be far better for us to address the District’s disastrous reading results locally, than to have change imposed from State or Federal litigation or legal changes. Or, perhaps a more diffused approach to redistributed state tax dollar spending.

2 thoughts on “Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison”

  1. I would appreciate obtaining study results of any charter school which is meeting its original objectives after 3 years of operation. ie achievement levels/Thanks

  2. I suggest considering several articles and studies:
    Charter school experiment a success; The arrival of charter schools in any city usually starts a fight. Along with some KIPP links:
    Remodeling America’s Schools, with Some Interesting Charts. Madison Continues to be a “status quo bubble”
    Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance
    Massachusetts teacher content knowledge requirements.
    “In 1998, Massachusetts debuted a set of tests it created for people who wanted teaching licenses. People nationwide were shocked when 59% of those in the first batch of applicants failed a communications and literacy test that officials said required about a 10th-grade level of ability.
    Given some specifics of how the tests were launched, people who wanted to be teachers in Massachusetts probably got more of a bum rap for their qualifications than they deserved. But the results certainly got the attention of people running college programs to train teachers. They changed what they did, and the passing rate rose to about 90% in recent years.
    One more thing: Student outcomes in Massachusetts improved significantly. Coming from the middle of the pack, Massachusetts has led the nation in fourth- and eighth-grade scores in reading and math on National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP) tests for almost a decade.”
    Much more here:
    Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Speech to the Madison Rotary Club:
    “Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).”
    and, the April 1, 2013 Madison School Board discussion of the District’s long term, terrible reading results:
    I found the new Superintendent’s comments on locally created curriculum fascinating, in light of these results (about 51 minutes into the mp3 audio file) “We’re not buying them off the shelf, they haven’t been implemented anywhere else, our own teachers, our teacher leaders are creating them with our support. They will never have been implemented anywhere before.
    So, the teams thinking is that we are going to put these new resources in the hands of the teachers. They know that the expectation is that the common core state standards needs to be addressed in every school, but that we need to work out the kinks over the school year. But, we are going to be learning with our teachers about the units of study and I assume making adjustments to them as we go along, based on what we learn. ”
    The mp3 audio file can be found at the bottom of this article:
    In light of these comments, I suggest reviewing UW-Madison Professor Mark Seidenberg’s work:
    The core question, in my view, is whether a very traditional public district, such as Madison ($15k/student annual spending), is capable of addressing problems with its essential mission, such as the disastrous reading scores.
    The April 1, 2013 Madison School Board discussion is illuminating. The District has long created its own curriculum and methods.
    P.S. “Plenty of Resources”

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