Commentary On Improving Madison’s $17k/student School District

Ed Hughes:

long arc of successful school improvement efforts, we should pay more attention to long-term trends than test-to-test or even year-to-year progress. This requires a kind of patience that coexists uneasily with the sense of urgency for our urban public schools.

It also calls for the kind of long-term commitment that isn’t very compatible with the traditional model of school board governance. Folks generally aren’t inspired to run for school board by a desire to refrain from monkeying around with an approach that seems to be working. “Let’s leave well enough alone” isn’t much of a campaign slogan. And yet, if a school district is headed in the right direction, as I think we are in Madison, that can be exactly what is called for.

The bottom line is, education is complicated. Change is hard, system-wide change is harder, system-wide change for the better is harder still. The kind of long-term positive changes we want to see in our urban school districts will certainly take longer than five years and may take a decade of sustained effort to achieve. And incremental progress along the way may be all that we can expect to see.

Much more on Ed Hughes, here.

Unfortunately, despite spending more than most, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Speaking of the long view, this, from 2007 is worth reading.