Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

Chris Rickert:

In at least two cases, principals left under a cloud.

In 2017, district officials decided not to pursue legal action against former Black Hawk Middle School Principal Kenya Walker, who abandoned her position and oversaw more than $10,000 in spending on the school’s credit card that could not be accounted for. In 2018, Sherman Middle School Principal Kristin Foreman decided to leave after a teacher alleged in a blog post that the school was “in crisis” due to deteriorating student behavior and disrespect for staff.

Tense hallways

Former Jefferson math teacher Mauricio Escobedo said Kurth had “lost control of the school” and described an environment there in which he felt threatened and had “all kinds of racial epithets and insults hurled at me” by students.

According to confidential student records obtained by WISC-TV (Ch. 3), the student in the Dec. 3 incident had been involved in 25 disciplinary incidents this school year prior to his suspension in the BB gun case.

Escobedo was fired on Dec. 20, he said, after pointing out to school leaders that the student who fired the BB gun had previously threatened to “shoot up the school.” Officially, he was let go for failing to earn a state teaching license, he said.

Kurth did not respond to email and Facebook messages seeking comment. Escobedo is one of five teachers who have left Jefferson during the current school year.

While declining to comment on specific employees, district spokesman Tim LeMonds said one of the teachers left for personal family reasons, two for another job in the district, one for “dissatisfaction” with her job and one for not meeting state licensing requirements.

Escobedo, who said he has more than 20 years of teaching experience, said he was properly licensed. But Department of Public Instruction spokesman Benson Gardner said that unless Escobedo “has used another name, he has never held a license to work in a school in Wisconsin.”

David Blaska:

Just Wednesday afternoon (01-15-2020) a Jefferson middle school student hospitalized with a concussion after being punched by a classmate. The victim told police he had been bullied for some time by the boy who hit him.

A school staff member said the victim fell to the floor after the initial blow, and was then punched a couple of more times. The employee said the suspect was screaming and knocking over chairs.

Mauricio Escobedo told Blaska’s Policy Werkes:

“I was fired and ushered out the back door because I would not allow Tequila Kurth to cover up her dangerous lack of sound disciplinary policies. On Wednesday, yet another child was nearly killed at Jefferson. YOU helped to divulge the fact [earlier this week] that the Jefferson Administration was no longer in control of the school to a wider audience than I could ever reach.  For that, I thank you.

And now that Tequila Kurth is gone, the job is remains unfinished. …

The idea that race should be considered before meting out disciplinary consequences (or disciplinary data) is inimical to the foundational principle that Justice is blind.  This aberration of America’s justice System must be changed inside of the MMSD from which it was removed by verbal artifice and deception.”

Because of the leadership change, the parent/citizen meeting is rescheduled for 6 p.m. February 6 at the school.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.