Meanwhile, in a sign of how the Madison district is responding to subsequent charter applications, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said he went before the Goodman Community Center’s board on the district’s behalf on Sept. 24 to express the district’s opposition to another proposed non-district charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.
Arbor has not entered contract negotiations with OEO yet, according to incoming OEO director Latoya Holiday, but has been approved for a charter contingent on finding a location. Goodman executive director Becky Steinhoff said the school first approached the center in early summer about using space there and possible other, later collaborations.
Hughes said he delivered a letter from Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, and told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.
In the letter to UW System president Ray Cross, which is dated Sept. 24, Cheatham points to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s application, and accuses OEO of not sharing information with the district about the proposed school.
“I am writing you to formally request that the OEO immediately terminate contract negotiations with (Arbor Community School) or, at the very least, require that this school not be located in the City of Madison,” she writes.
Steinhoff said partnering with a charter school such as Arbor would likely be controversial in Madison but that even in the absence of the district’s opposition to the school and Hughes’ appearance before the board, the board “probably” would not have authorized further discussions with Arbor.
Mertz said he will look to highlight his record during the campaign, and also talk about building trust and accountability in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
“In order for us to provide our students the education they deserve, we need to work to repair the breakdowns of trust we see manifested in the divisions within our schools, within our community, and between too many of our families and our schools,” Mertz said. “We need to respect each other, assume the best intentions, and work together with honesty and hope.”
Notes and links:
A majority (including Mr. Hughes) of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).
Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.
Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.
The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.
On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
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.
Ed Hughes (2005): Madison Teachers union and the school board.
Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:
Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”
“Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.