Teach First

The Economist:

Montgomery County, where your columnist’s three offspring attend (loosely speaking) public school, is on track to be the last of America’s 14,000 districts to return pupils to the classroom.

Provided the board does not put the brakes on its latest back-to-school plan, as it has three times previously, Lexington’s two sons in elementary school will be back in school—for as little as four days a fortnight—by the beginning of April. His 12-year-old will go back on the same part-time basis three weeks later, by which time he will not have seen a teacher in the flesh for almost 14 months.

Unprecedented as this failure may seem, its dynamics will be familiar to weary school reformers. An education policy that prioritises learning would have made returning children to school its objective, and worked through the impediments to it. (Face masks and open windows, it turns out, do most of that.) But this is not how the fragmented public school system works. The elected worthies who sit on its powerful school boards do not pursue objectives so much as balance competing local interests. This is a recipe for risk aversion and inertia or, as mcps’s wry superintendent, Jack Smith, puts it “not decision-making but mush”.

This week’s mcps meeting illustrated the pressures inherent in the mush-making. It opened with a litany of video messages from concerned school users. “Imagine yourselves in a Zoom class wading through a fog of mental illness,” beseeched an exhausted-looking Zoom mom. “The teacher I am most concerned about getting sick is my Dad,” said a schoolboy. “He might recover or he might not make it.” “My husband saw schools operating safely in Somaliland! Why can’t we do that here?” asked another mother. Outside the mcps office, rival crowds of protesters, pro-and and anti-reopening, meanwhile stomped on the icy pavement and honked their car horns. “There is a lot of anxiety on the board,” Mr Smith had earlier intimated. “Hundreds or thousands of people are going to have an opinion about you and post it everywhere.”

By the same token, excessive caution among Democrats was fuelled by hostility towards Mr Trump. Science, which Democrats cite often but selectively, has been another victim of that stand-off. Its misuse has fostered the false dichotomy aired by many: that teacher health and student welfare are irreconcilable.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.